Mary Elizabeth Sutherland Carpenter was born in Salado, Bell County, Texas in 1920 to Thomas Shelton and Mary Elizabeth Robertson Sutherland. Her father was a state highway inspector and her mother was a homemaker. Liz was the middle child of five children. According to traditional genealogical sources, her mother, Mary Elizabeth Robertson was the daughter of Maclin Robertson who was in turn the son of Sterling Clack and Sarah Maclin Robertson. Sterling Clack Robertson was born in 1785 in Tennessee and came to Texas as empresario of his own colony, settling in what would become Bell County near the current town of Salado. Robertson was also a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. On Liz’s father’s side, her Texas roots went back just as far. Her father was Thomas Shelton Sutherland III. His father was Thomas Shelton Sutherland II and his father was George Sutherland, born in Alabama and by profession a cowboy and rancher, who is noted as having served in the Texas Army and fought in the Battle of San Jacinto.
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Albert Horton Foote, Jr. was born in 1916 in Wharton, Wharton County, Texas which is located about halfway between Rosenberg and El Campo on Highway 59, heading southwest from Houston. His parents were Albert Horton Foote, Sr. and Harriet Gautier Brooks Foote, both of whom native Texans. Horton was the oldest of three brothers including Tom Brooks Foote and John Speed Foote. The brothers were all named for ancestors, with Horton being named for ancestors on his father’s side. Horton’s great great grandfather Stephen Daniel Foote had come to Texas from Virginia just before the Civil War. His paternal Texas roots were deep.
Larry McMurtry was born in Archer City, Texas to William Jefferson and Hazel Ruth McIver McMurtry, a ranching family. He relates that his family had been ranchers since the 1870s and that it had included several trail drivers among his uncles and other relatives. Accordingly, some of his tales were developed from stories he had been told when he was a boy. McMurtry lived on a ranch south of Archer City near a local landmark known as “Idiot’s Ridge” until he was old enough to go to school and his parents moved into town.
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Elmer was born in 1926 on the Five Wells Ranch, one of the Scharbauer ranches, in rural Andrews County, Texas. His father was Robert William “Buck” Kelton and mother was the former Neta Beatrice “Bea” Parker. Three years later, Buck took a job at the McElroy Ranch in Crane, Texas near Midland, where he would remain for 36 years. Elmer grew up on the ranch, hearing the colorful stories told by Buck and the other cowboys on the ranch.