My three-great grandfather, James Luther Smith, built the original house for his granddaughter, Mary Virginia "Mollie" Blackman and her husband, Isham Alfonso "Al" Steele. In the beginning, the house had only four rooms and a kitchen.
The front room was built some time prior to 1900 as Mollie and Al's daughter, Mary Allye, was born in this room on March 9, 1900. The storm cellar seen in the photograph above was built prior to 1911 by a white mustached man referred to as "the Irishman." A long porch was built across the front of the house in 1922 by Mr. Tom Hardin and a bigger kitchen was built ca. 1925. The side porch was built in the early 1930s.
In 1911, Al Steele and family moved to Childress, Texas to live near one of Al's sisters, Lydia Francis "Lyd" Steele and her husband Silas Abe Greer. While the Steele family was living in Texas, the Edmon Clark Chambers family lived in the Steele House. In Ollie Chambers' collection of remembrances, Down Memory Lane, she recalls the following:
Our parents rented the Steele house in 1912. That was indeed a terrible year for our family. Mearine, Luceil, Darris and Ollie had typhoid fever. The only help our parents could get was an old colored woman named, Annie Barkshire.
There seemed to be many tornadoes or hurricanes at this time. There was a storm cellar in the side yard in easy access to the front porch, in which our parents kept a lantern, plenty of matches in a can, fresh water was kept in jars or bottles, also quilts for us to sleep upon. There were benches in the storm cellar.
Annie Barkshire always came to our house to join us in the storm cellar. Our parents always had a big can that had a top on it, in which they kept canned foods, vienna sausage, potted meat, crackers and cookies. If Mama had time, when we went to the storm cellar, she took cottage cheese that she had made, also fresh milk. Fortunately, we never had to stay in the storm cellar long enough to use up all the food. However, you can imagine with four hungry girls, Annie Barksire, and Mama and Papa, that a great deal of nourishment was consumed.In 1912, Claude and Vivian Martin Enright were living in the Steele house where their son, Claude Martin Enright was born.
Robert Otis Moss and Marion Smith were married in the Steele house ca. 1922.
Sisters, Sarah Virginia and Evelyn Steele Ogden, were born in the Steele house in 1922 and 1926, respectively.
My grandparents, Bruce and Mary Allye Steele Edmonds lived in the Steele house until 1958 when they swapped houses with their son (my father), Bruce Alfonso Edmonds and his family.
The old Steele house is gone now. Fire destroyed it about twenty years ago. I grew up in this house. Many years were spent playing under the old pecan trees planted over 100 years ago by my great-grandfather, Al Steele.
We never had to use the storm cellar for protection from tornadoes and hurricanes but it made the perfect fort for playing cowboys and indians with my brothers and friends.