Automobiles were beginning to be more numerous in the towns and even out on the farms and ranches of central Texas. Jim Haile decided that he should have one of his own. The oats and wheat had been cut and thrashed and the yield was better than average. The cotton and corn was laid by and Jim had made a cattle drive and had some cash money on hand. He had also shipped another train car of goats to Kansas City.
He paid down some money on the mortgage at the bank but kept back some of the money to buy some cars. In the summer of 1917, Jim Haile went to Petty's General Merchandise store in Hico and bought an Overland 6 cylinder touring car. While he was in the buying mood he decided to just buy two more cars, one for Ollie and one for Dud. He also bought a Bethlehem chain drive truck to help out with the hauling on the ranch. Now, Jim had lots of motorized equipment to keep up. He had two Little Bull tractors, three Overland cars and one Bethlehem truck and all these vehicles took lots of maintenance to keep going. Of course none of the Haile's knew anything to speak of about automobile engines and how to keep them running, so Jim had to have a mechanic come out from Hico quite often. "It took an awful lot of money to keep all these cars, trucks, and tractors running," Alma recalls, "and Paw would have to keep going back to the bank to get more money. I think Paw paid cash for all these vehicles but he should have paid all this money on the mortgages cause he didn't have any business with these cars, tractors and a truck."
"In those days when you bought a car the dealer would come out and give driving lessons," Alma recalls. "Paw decided to let Mollie take the lessons and she was the only one on the ranch that could drive. Of course Ollie and Dud took lessons and they could drive their cars."
"One day I came over to the ranch to see the new car," Alma says. "I had Woodie with me, he was a little baby, and Paw said, "Ollie, take Tug for a ride." "We'll go up to Olin to see some friends," Mollie said. "When she came to the gate at the mail box she got mixed up and didn't stop the car and went right thru the gate," Alma laughs. "It was a wire gate and it scratched the new car all over and when she finally got it stopped, we both jumped out and started rubbing these scratches and we knew we were going to get into trouble with Paw for scratching his new car. She almost didn't stop at the gate that led to our friends house at Olin, but thank heaven she finally did."
"Mollie took Paw to town one time and he kept griping about her driving. When they got back home she started to drive the car into the shed where they kept it and she forgot how to stop again and went right on thru the back of the shed," Alma laughs, "I guess Paw made her nervous with all his driving instructions."
"Another time Mollie took Paw to town. They were driving down the main street in Hico when they saw a boy coming toward them on a bicycle and he was coming fast. Mollie got the car stopped this time but the boy just kept coming and ran into the front of the car and came off of the bicycle and went over the top of the car." Alma recalls. "Paw and Mollie picked him up right quick and took him to the doctor. Paw was sparking the boy's sister and he was real anxious to take care of all the doctor bills. Well, as it turned out, the boy wasn't hurt bad and everybody was sure happy about that."
July of 1918 was hotter than usual. Bernard Lynch had been working in the field and when he came home for supper he was red faced and seemed to be suffering from heat stroke. Kate tried to cool him off by washing his face with a damp cloth and giving him cool water to drink. He ate supper and part of a watermelon. They were living in the old rock house on the Groomer place at the time.
During the night he became very ill with acute indigestion. Kate ran up to Bart Oak's house and asked him to go for the doctor. "He only lived about a day and a half," Alma says. "He died on Saturday night, July 6, 1918."
"They had a hearse come out from Hico and take him to the Fairy cemetery," Alma remembers. "They had the service under the tabernacle there in the cemetery and it was a terribly hot day."
Kate was a widow at 25. She and her daughters, Oma Lee 5, and Ellan 1 ½ first moved to Ada and Fred Gordon's house. "You see, Kate was expecting another baby," Alma recalls, "and she didn't have any place to stay so she stayed about a week at a time with the rest of us kids. She stayed with Ollie and Dora, Fred and Ada, Dud and Allie, Suc and Wyley and Babe and me."
On August 29, 1917, Jim Haile made arrangements to borrow more money from the First National Bank in Hamilton, Texas, and paid $2,180 for 293 acres of land which was a part of the A. Payne survey. This latest purchase gave Jim a total of 4388 acres of land for which he had paid a total of $25,270. This figures an average of $5.74 per acre.
"Paw gave Little Jim 160 acres of this land purchase and he and Nora moved from Mrs. Lizzie's house in the bois d'arc trees there on the ranch to the farm that Paw had given them."
Jim Haile's financial position now was questionable. In order to get the bank to extend credit to make this last land purchase he had to mortgage all his land and some of his livestock. After analyzing this latest move on the part of the bank, one is made to wonder if it was not a deliberate move on the part of the bank, with the view in mind of some day soon to take legal measures to terminate all the mortgages it held on Jim Haile's land and to take possession of all the mortgaged property by foreclosing.
It was fall of 1918 and time to make a payment on the mortgages. Jim Haile's cotton crop was below average, his calves didn't bring what he expected and Jim couldn't make the full payment.
Ollie, Dud and Little Jim had also had a poor year and they couldn't help on the payment. The bank agreed to extend the due date on the mortgage for a few weeks and give Jim Haile a little more time to raise some money.
In desperation, Jim loaded about 50 horses on the train and shipped them to east Texas where he had heard there was a market. "This was the second time Paw had shipped horses to east Texas," Alma recalls, "the first time was in about 1908 and Dud and Uncle Charlie Campbell went with him. This time Paw went by himself and when he got them there, he couldn't sell them because there was already too many horses for sale there. Well, he didn't have any choice but to bring them back home. He ran out of money and couldn't buy feed for them and they ate each other's manes and tails off on the way back. When he got them back and turned them out in the pasture, most of them died. It was sure hard times for Paw."
Right after Christmas of 1918, in Chattanooga, Oklahoma, Lola received a letter from Alma telling her it might be a good idea for her to come to Texas. "The bank was demanding some sort of a payment on the mortgage and was threatening to take some of the stock," Alma said in the letter, "and Ollie, Dud and Jim are taking some of the livestock from the ranch to their own farms to keep the bank for getting them."
"It was January of 1919, and we had just moved down towards Agee, about 10 miles from the ranch," Alma remembers. "Lola came down on the train and brought Raymond 6, and Evelyn 4, with her."
"Uncle Babe met us at the train station," Raymond recalls, "and it was very cold. He put our suitcases in the back of a double buggy without a top, pulled by two black horses. We rode for hours, up mountains and down valleys and it seemed we would never get there. It was nice to finally get into the house where it was warm and Aunt Alma and Woodie and Evadean sure made us welcome."
"Us girls, Ada, Lola, Suc, Kate, Mollie, Ella and I decided that we would hire a lawyer and file a law suit against Ollie, Dud and Jim because we felt like they had no right to take the horses and cattle from the ranch," Alma recalls. "When we talked with Ollie he told us how everything was mortgaged to the limit and that the lawyer would end up getting most of the money anyway, so we decided not to file the suit. Actually, I guess it was a good thing that the boys took the stock because the bank would have gotten them if they hadn't taken them."
Apparently the bank got enough stock in the deal to partly satisfy the due date on the mortgage and pressure on Jim Haile was lessened for awhile.
Carl Carson, back in Chattanooga, Oklahoma decided he should go to Texas to see if he could be of any help with the problem. He asked his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Doc Carson, to stay with Oran, Clyde, Aubrey and Thurman.
Carl arrived in Hico, Texas, about a week after Lola, Raymond and Evelyn had gotten there. "He went out to the ranch looking for Lola," Alma recalls. "Ollie's oldest son, Noble, brought him down to our place after dark." "What are you doing here?" Lola said. "She didn't like it very much that Carl had some down," Alma remembers. "We explained to him that the bank had taken some of the stock to pay on the mortgage and that things had calmed down for awhile."
Jim Haile, who could have been one of the most wealthy ranchers in Hamilton County with almost 5000 acres of land and many cattle, horses and goats was now a man with too much mortgage. He had borrowed too heavily on land that wasn't paid for to buy more land. He had given five quarters of land to his sons with the understanding that they would help pay of the mortgage. Hard times hit all the Hailes and it seemed that no one could find money to pay to the bank. Jim had bought three new cars, one new truck and two new tractors with money that he should have paid to the bank. He had a habit of going to the bank and borrowing spending money for himself and his sons and it seemed that there was no way to stop.