Caudill Family

Another of the families who settled in early day Roger Mills County for a period of time and then move on was the Caudill Family. The family history begins with Elder Benjamin Everage Caudill, born 1830 in Kentucky. The Elder is not his name, but denotes that he was an old regular Baptist minister for twenty years following the Civil War. He was also a farmer. Benjamin served with the Confederacy as a Colonel in the Cavalry. Before the war ended, he was captured and imprisoned for a period of time before being involved in an exchange of Northern officers held by the South. Also his home was burned by the Union forces before the war ended.

Elder Ben’s eldest son was John Asbury Caudill who also served in the Confederate Army. He married after the war and his wife Alice had three sons; but she died shortly after giving birth to Rufus, the youngest. Rufus was reared by her folks while his older brothers, Fred and Oscar were reared by the Elder Ben Caudill’s mentioned above. John Asbury re-married five years later to Kate Brawner and their oldest son was another Benjamin Caudill, half-brother to Fred and Oscar.

John Asbury moved to south Texas with his family in 1879 where he lived out his remaining years; died in 1912.  His brother, Samuel Houston Caudill moved from Amarillo to Berlin in 1894. He appears to be the first Caudill to have homesteaded in Roger Mills County. When his family moved, they had two covered wagons and brought their bedding and part of their household goods; stoves and beds and all the furniture they had in those early days. They enjoyed the trip very much.

They were on the road about ten days from Amarillo to Berlin. Samuel Houston located south of Cheyenne where there was lots of timber, grass and small streams with plenty of fish. Their home was two dugouts. These were extra large and there was a large white rock in one of them, and they had a spring with cool water. This spring was said to be the best in Western Oklahoma. Samuel Houston later moved to Sentinel where he lived until his death in 1928.

A third brother, Benjamin Franklin Caudill was the second Caudill to homestead at Berlin, having moved there in 1901 with his wife, Lucy and their eight children. {One of their daughters, Lillie Belle would later marry John Harmon Shufeldt, son of George Shufeldt, the RedMoon Postmaster}.  They had sold their farm in Clay County, Kentucky and moved to Oklahoma—- “the land of Promise”.

This Benjamin Franklin had visited there six months earlier and had filed on a 160 acre piece of land. He dug a cellar nine miles south of Cheyenne to live in before going back to Kentucky to collect his family. During his absence, the eighth child had been born, a daughter, Lucy Mae. Ben and Lucy chartered part of a train, loaded it with his finest horses, cows, farm implements and their children.  After a five day train trip, they reached Elk City, unloaded their belongings and traveled to their new home. They lived in a dugout near Berlin, where they remained until they could get a large two bedroom house built. Ben was very pleased with the land he had filed on. As stated above, he also had some relatives (his brother Samuel Houston and wife Flora and a nephew Oscar) that were already settled nearby and who acquired land and built nice homes. The prairie grass was as high as a horse’s belly and waving in the breeze. Water gushed out of their spring and they loved the spaciousness of the country. They thought their troubles were over!

They asked the neighbors what to plant and decided on castor beans, since they were told that there was a market for them. When summer arrived, the beans ripened and all seemed to be going well. The weather became very hot and the sun reflected on the sand like glass. The spring dried up, the dugout caved in and the castor beans popped open like popcorn, scattering all over the ground unable to be harvested.

Sayre was still in Roger Mills County at that time. Beckham County was not formed until 1907. After three years in Berlin, they gave up on the farm though they still lived in the house for many years. The spring and the prairie grass dried up and the sand blew and blew resembling ocean waves. So they moved to Sayre, a small town nearby and built a livery stable, wagon yard, restaurant and a small hotel. All the buildings were painted red and it was called the Kentucky Wagon Yard, since they had come from Kentucky.

Lucy cooked for the restaurant and they served savory dishes family style; all you could eat for a quarter. The family was very busy and never lacked for customers in this growing community. Ben Franklin had been ordained Primitive Baptist Minister by now and performed all the weddings and funeral services. One particular couple came to be married one night. The man’s name was Mr. Hoag and the lady’s name was Miss Pigg. It was a nice wedding held in the restaurant. The family lived happily in Western Oklahoma for many years but now the descendants are scattered in many states.

Benjamin Franklin returned to Kentucky in the 1930’s where he died.


Benjamin Emery was the son of Samuel Houston Caudill. He went to work when he was eight years old for his cousins, Frank and Oscar Caudill, who were cattlemen. They wanted him to come to work for them and promised to teach him so he wouldn’t get behind in his schooling and paid him $15 per month. His parents agreed to let him go, so at the age of eight, Ben Emery left home to become a cowboy. His first job was that of a horse wrangler. He had to care for about eight horses, help with the cooking and getting in the wood. In the fall when it was time for the roundup, the chuck wagon would start out ahead and make camp near water and a good grazing place. They always took a cook with them and supplies from the home ranch. For food, they had plenty of beef as the cowmen would take turns furnishing the meat. A cowman would have two of his cowboys go out and rope a calf and throw it down, and one of the cowboys would cut its throat and the rest would start skinning it and in just a few minutes, they would have all the nice round steak they could eat. With this steak, they would have sourdough biscuits and black coffee. Every man had to take his turn being night guard as there were a lot of cattle thieves at that time. The cowboys who were left would gather around the campfire and sing. In the early days, Ben Emery was in a lot of cowboy celebrations at Cheyenne, OK. He had one of the fastest race- horses in western OK. When he was barely ten years old in 1898, he won first prize of $180. His mother, Flora didn’t know he was going to race and when they called out that Little Ben had won, she fainted!

His uncle was very good to him in every way but his schooling. He never went to school much, just learned to read, write and spell a little. He worked for his uncle for fifteen years and his uncle gave him the first twenty dollar gold piece he ever saw. Ben Emery was a very good musician, playing the violin at area dances and picnics.

Ben Emery died and was buried at Sentinel in 1959.  His sister Alice Caudill married my third cousin, Albert Dobbs.



The Caudill Brothers, Fred and Oscar, worked as cowboys for the XIT Ranch in the Texas Panhandle before coming to Roger Mills County. They spent from fifteen to twenty-five years in Roger Mills County before moving to Texas and then New Mexico. They were well known cattlemen covering western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle buying and selling cattle and running these on the open range while it lasted.  Oscar was named the Best Roper at the 1903 County Fair held in Berlin. Early day newspaper articles from the Cheyenne Sunbeam and Berlin Herald mention these two cattlemen and their dealings numerous times. One such article gave a listing of area ranchers, their brands and location of their ranches. The location of the Caudill range was at the head of Sandstone and Panther Creeks northeast of Berlin. One son of Oscar Caudill, by the name of Robert Caudill, known as Doby Doc, settled in the city of Las Vegas, Nevada. He was a gambler, casino owner, antique dealer and outright eccentric, living to a ripe old age of 94.