My dad’s brother, Thomas, “Uncle Tom” Raney was born at Pleasant Valley (NE Dallas County) around 1883. He married Stella Mae Cunningham of Wylie and they had two sons. Harmon Eugene “Gene” was born in 1912 and Clifton M. “Max” Raney was born in 1914. Pleasant Valley used to have two churches and an ole country store with the post office inside the store. It was a two story building on the corner of Merritt and Pleasant Valley Road. The order of Eastern Star and I think the Woodmen of the World and other groups would meet on the second floor.
Max got his start by playing at dances, which were usually held at homes of early-day German settlers, around the Dalrock area. Dalrock was located about two miles east of Rowlett. In later years the well-known Route 66 was built right through the middle of that little community. A big part of the old highway is now under the waters of Lake Ray Hubbard.
Max couldn’t read a note of music, but was an excellent musician. He played the accordion and Charlie Spence played the fiddle. They would usually get ten cents per set. Some nights they would earn close to four dollars each.
Uncle Matt (Madison) Wells had a store located at the corner of what is now Elm Grove and Vinson Roads in the Liberty Grove community. Max would frequently spend his time there playing the accordion. His group was called the Radio Rangers and later became a daily feature on a Wichita Falls, Texas radio station before going on to become a frequent accordion player on the Lawrence Welk Show. He then moved to Rochester, New York, where he became a big name entertainer.
There always seemed to be a great parallel between Max and Lawrence Welk. They both had humble beginnings, neither could read music, but they both left a lasting impression on people from all across America and many other parts of the world.
Oral History by Hubert Forster Raney.