BCHC Citizen of Note: Jamie Lois (Duncan) Husted

The Burnet County Historical Commission will honor seven individuals for their contributions to Burnet County, at a Citizens of Note reception Tuesday, July 2 at 11 a.m. at the Burnet County AgriLife Extension Office, 607 North Vandeveer, Burnet. The community is invited to this special event and welcome to read each of the seven biographies in The Highlander and at highlandernews.com.

Burnet County Historical Commission

Citizen of Note

Jamie Lois (Duncan) Husted

by Harris D. Husted

Jimsey was born in Burnet April 11, l911, the third child of Eva and Harris Duncan. She was born at home, in the Cook House on Main Street. The name Jimsey came from the fact her older brother, Hal, could not pronounce Jamie Lois so he called Jimsey.

Jimsey grew up on the D+ ranch working with her father whom she worshiped. She was the original cowgirl and really loved it. As a young woman, she broke horses along with other duties on the ranch.

David Cook, a cousin, said that while Jimsey was working on the ranch in the early years of the 1920's, she had two horses gored out from under her. Her father and her Uncle Vance had another ranch where Lake Buchanan is now, and they would take cattle back and forth. She told anyone who would listen about the many cattle drives they would make in and around the county.

Jimsey had a favorite horse named Jiggs, who was thought to be given to her by her father at the age of fifteen. She had an artist do a pencil rendering of him in the 1970’s. Jimsey went to school in Burnet until the ninth grade, and then continued on to Westmorland in San Antonio, a Methodist all-female school that later merged with Trinity University.

Jimsey took violin lessons in Lampasas every week and would ride back and forth on the “Polecat Limited,” the train at that time. Next she attended Ward-Belmont in Nashville, Tennessee, where she graduated high school. While at Ward-Belmont she played second chair violin in the school orchestra, and she spoke often of this school and girls she knew there with fond memories. She entered the University of Texas, where her father and all her uncles had attended, and she joined the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. In 1930, Jimsey was living in the Scottish Rite Dorm, but soon after this, she left the University. Jimsey then went to San Marcos Community College for some more classes so she could get her teaching certificate, which she received Sept. 21, 1931. Jimsey taught school from 1932 to 1935 the Spring Creek School, which was a one-room school about five miles west of Burnet. During this time she also had some of her own cattle on her father's land.

In August 1936, she took a trip to Hartford, Connecticut to visit a member of the Sherrard family. The Sherrards had a ranch in Burnet County and were good friends with the Duncans. Gibb Sherrard, one of the family members, and his family, ended up in Hartford, Connecticut. They had become friends with a family named Husted. The Husteds, who lived in nearby Wooster, Massachusetts, had a son named Chester. The Sherrards invited this young man to come over to Hartford, so Jimsey would have someone with whom to socialize. This was in August, and come December they were married in Burnet. In fact, Chester Husted and Jimsey Duncan were the last couple to be married in the old Methodist Church of Burnet.

Chester came down to Burnet to meet his new in-laws. Harris Duncan, Jimsey's father, a working rancher, drove to Georgetown to meet the train, and to drive Chester to Burnet. Chet surely arrived in his best eastern attire, a “Connecticut Yankee in the Court of Texas.”

The Husteds' first child, Harris, was born in Connecticut in July l938. Not long after, they returned to Texas.

In 1940, the family moved to Dallas, where Chet had a job with an insurance company. Chet joined the Army soon after when World War II was declared.

Jimsey and Harris initially moved back to Burnet. Soon though, we were following Chet from camp to camp until he was sent overseas in Dec. 1944. Jimsey did her best to make do with the places the family lived during those months they traveled behind Chet. In mid-1944, Chet was transferred back to the states to a hospital in New Mexico.

After the war, the family returned to Burnet and moved out to the farm where Chet and Jimsey spent the rest of their lives. After the death of Jimsey's father, Harris Duncan, her mother, and the other children decided to divide up the ranch. Jimsey's part turned out to be the farm, which was one-thousand acres. She got less land, for at that time they still farming, and cleared land was considered to be more valuable. Jimsey became the third generation on the land.

About this time, Chet opened his frozen food business in Burnet, Duncan Husted Inc. and Jimsey proceeded to start her own business, "Post Oak Farm." She chose this name because of all the post oak trees on the front of the place. Jimsey had always wanted a ranch of her own, and relished her new opportunity. She borrowed money from the San Saba Production Credit Association and started farming and raising cattle, then later sheep. The only thing she ever made money from was the sheep, but she loved white-faced Hereford cattle the most. On the farm part, oats and hay were raised.

The farming went on from about 1946 to 1954. When she first started, Roy Graves, whose father had worked for her father, did most of the farming. He built the house which the children knew as Irene’s house. At this time the family had a tractor, a combine for the oats, a hay-bailing machine, and numerous other pieces of equipment. It was a complete farm-and-ranch operation. Jamie, who was about six at the time, would ride on the combine with Roy while harvesting oats, which would be considered child endangerment these days. During these years Burnet County was still farm and ranch country.

The early fifties brought a terrible drought to Burnet County which forced Jimsey, along with many others, out of the farm business. She continued with her ranching activities until about 1975, when she started leasing out the place. Jimsey was still an all-in rancher, out on horses or driving through the pastures in her pick-up, over-seeing all the work. An interesting note: she bought her last tractor in 1951 and it was still in use in 2006.

Jimsey was the original conservationist. All ranchers are, something the environmental nuts have never figured out. She was one of the first in Burnet County to have their land terraced. She dug water wells, knew all the native grasses, soil types, saw that the land was not overgrazed, and kept up all the fences. This was something she continued until her death.

About l983, she started raising Spanish goats, again to help the land. As a result, the family stayed in the goat business even after her death. For her sixtieth birthday, her birthday present to herself was to saddle her horse and go for a ride. This was no mean trick considering the size and weight of her saddle which she had owned since l925. That saddle is now in the museum in Burnet.

In the l960's she became involved in the Burnet County Historical Society; "The Hysterical Society,” as she liked to call it. In 1977, she was named Burnet's Honor Citizen. Jimsey was great company and interested in everything. At cattle working time she would cook a lunch of southern food for the hands, and then have a Yankee supper for Chet and the family.

Jimsey spoke often of her older brother “Hal”, who she was obviously very fond of. He was killed in France about eight days after D-Day. Throughout her life, Jimsey maintained a very close relationship with all of the Husted clan, and they were very fond of her. Flora, Chet’s grandmother, the great aunts from the MacKay line, Maud Husted, Arleen, (Cliff’s widow), and Ruth Husted all stayed in close touch. She and Ruth Husted even took trips to Hawaii and Norway in later years.

After Chet's death in 1982, Jimsey continued to manage the ranch and all the affairs of the estate. In 1988, she developed emphysema, and she probably had it for years, for she smoked all of her life.

Jimsey died in May 1992. She had an old fire wood box from her father’s ranch, the D+, fitted out as a casket and for her burial she was buried with her boots on. Jimsey was still active on the ranch until a couple weeks before her death. She is buried next to her loving husband, Chet, in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Burnet.

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