Bertha Cox Hanthorn –

Tough as a Boot at 101


327 Shorewood Dr., Duncanville, Tx 75116


Updated from an article written by Bobbie Nichols for the "Monahans News" in 1995.  Bertha was the sister of J.W., Jim, Thomas, Marl, Mary, Pearl, Charles “Dock”, Sarah, Deanne and Maude Cox.  She had several relatives in the Letona area.  The author, Mary Jane Dorff, is Bertha Cox Hanthorn’s niece. Bertha Cox Quattlebaum Hanthorn died December 20, 2002, in Monahans, Texas.    She was  survived by her daughters Glenda Boren and Bobbie Nichols, and grandchildren Larry Boren, Bill Boren, Ricky Handlin, Scott Handlin and Karen Lee.


omets, tornadoes, sandstorms -- Bertha (Cox) Hanthorn has seen them all in her 101 years.  Born March 2, 1900, in White County, Arkansas, she was the next to youngest of 10 children born to A.B. and Martha Hughes Cox. She worked in the fields cutting hay, plowing and picking cotton. "I was tough as an old boot," she said. "Still am."

     "We only went to school part time," she recalls. "About February, we all dropped out to plow the fields and plant cotton. Then we went back for a few months until fall when the bolls were opening." After the cotton was in, everyone went back to school until spring, when the cycle started over.  She carried her lunch in a gallon lard bucket.  It consisted of biscuits, butter, sorghum molasses and onion and a "big quart of buttermilk." The woodpile served as both table and chair and, after lunch, the kids played ball.  Bertha learned a healthy respect for the weather while still a child in Arkansas. She well remembers the night the family huddled in a storm cellar while a tornado leveled the nearby town of Letona.

  Highlighting her childhood memories, however, is the appearance of Haley's Comet.   "My dad knew we would never see it again so he got us up about 4 a.m. for several mornings while the comet could be seen," she said.   "I never saw anything like it -- it stretched across the sky from north to south like a big old flag. The head looked like it was full of stars and the tail was all stripes. I just might be around when the next one comes by," she laughed.    In 1915 Bertha married Claude Quattlebaum.   They left Arkansas with their small daughter, Glenda. A second daughter, Bobbie was born in Iowa Park, Texas. The Depression years were tough and sometimes the family didn't have enough to eat.   In 1936, they headed for the West Texas oil fields and wound up in Grandfalls.  "I hated it." Bertha remembers. "It was hot and dry and I wasn't used to that. Sandstorms, tornadoes and hardly any rain or snow.   I thought we were doomed, but it was work and we had to stay." 

Caught in the midst of the oil boom, there was hardly any place to live either. For the first two weeks, the family stayed upstairs in what is now the water building in Grandfalls. They spread a quilt over bare springs and slept "as best we could".    She ironed on top of a little heater with a flatiron heated downstairs. There were no screens on the windows but they had to be left open anyway so what little breeze there was could cool things off.
           "It was the biggest mess you ever saw when we came through Monahans," she declared.  "They had moved in all kinds of houses and were trying to put them back together."   Many of the people lived in tents.   "Snakes could come through the cracks in the floors and walls of the stores. I couldn't figure out why we had come to this sandbed." While her husband worked in the oil fields, they moved from Grandfalls, to Royalty and finally ended up in Monahans in 1940. Bertha raised a garden and sold milk and eggs.  Claude worked in real estate. "I think he must have sold everything around here two or three times," she said. He also worked at the Ford house selling cars.  Shortly after that Bertha and Claude separated and divorced.   After the girls were both married, she became something of a nomad.   "I wasn't afraid of nothin' or nobody in those days," she said, "and so I would get on a bus and when I came to a place I wanted to stop, I would get off and work a while. Then I'd get back on the bus and go somewhere else." She worked in several places, including Michigan, Chicago and Indianapolis and finally wound up in Loredo where Bobbie's husband ran a motel. The motel was sold in 1974 and they all moved back to Monahans.
          Somewhere along the way she learned to love West Texas though a little of her Arkansas heritage can still be seen in all her house plants and flower gardens.   She lives alone and "manages fine".  A lady comes in every afternoon to help her.  About the only thing she can't do is drive. Bertha enjoys visiting the Senior Citizen's Center where "I expect I'm the oldest person there."  A faithful member of Bethel Baptist Church, she enjoys reading her Bible along with books on angels and books by Billy Graham. She also likes to watch war shows and the weather on television. She particularly loves to go shopping in Odessa. "We run around all day and my daughter comes home dragging but I'm still rarin' to go," she said.
         Dying is not in her plans for the future. "I'm looking forward to seeing the Lord come down out of the sky after His Church and I plan to be ready."   sss