When Jack Ratcliff saw Wylie first, he was a little “shaver.” On the way to see the State Fair in Dallas via railroad, he viewed Wylie first through the window. That was when horseracing was held at the fair and trains made stops from Lavon to Wylie.
Waverly Jackson “Jack” Ratcliff was the oldest child born to John Ward Ratcliff and his wife, the former Mary Eulalia Watkins. This event occurred November 8, 1890 in Millwood. John and Mary Eulalia had two more sons and one daughter. They were: William Albert Ratcliff (Jan. 17, 1896-May 2, 1987), John Ward Ratcliff (Feb. 2, 1894-April 2, 1968) and Susie Ratcliff Smith.
“Mother died when I was six years old and Fess (William Albert) was seven months old. Dad never remarried. Grandmother helped him raise us,” stated Jack in an old interview.
Making his living on the farm, as did his father before him, Jack saw many changes. Mules were used instead of tractors. Jack bought his first tractor in 1935 because his only child, Curtis, wanted one. Boles of cotton were pulled by hand rather than machinery. The horse and buggy was replaced by automobile.
A lifetime resident of Collin County, Jack spent the first 62 years his life in Millwood. As a young man he would come to Wylie by via the turnpike through old Eureka.
On September 15, 1915 Jack married the beautiful Mary Lena Williams in Rockwall. They accomplished over fifty years of a happy life together until her death parted them March 16, 1967. In 1923 they bought a home put together entirely with pegs. They moved to Wylie in 1952 but Jack continued to farm his land with the help of John D. Houston.
In 1955 Dr. T.M. Trimble began his practice in Wylie and needed help. Mrs. Ratcliff began working his first day. Soon, Jack was “helping out” at the clinic, too.
After Lena died, Jack would often ‘ ‘help out” at the Wylie Supermarket. Occasionally, his other “helper” would be “Kid” Moore. Before his demise Jack Ratcliff could be seen smiling throughout the halls of the Hillcrest Nursing Home. On June 22, 1963. this happy, friendly gentleman passed to his reward. He is buried in the Restland Memorial Cemetery at Dallas.
By Beb Fulkerson for Wlyie Area Heritage.