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JOT 'EM DOWN, TEXAS
AKA Bagley, Mohegan, or Muddig Prairie

Delta County, North Central Texas / East Texas

9 miles W of Cooper on FM 1532
4 miles S of Pecan Gap on FM 904

Population: 10 (1990)

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History in a Pecan Shell

The area was already settled by 1885 when the Bagley School was in operation. By 1905 the one-teacher school had an enrollment of 46. The community appeared on highway maps as Bagley in the 30s.

In 1936 Dion McDonald built a store naming his business the "Jot 'Em Down Gin Corporation" after a fictional business on the Lum and Abner Radio Program.

The state highway department (in a rare display of humor) added the name to their official maps. During the school consolidations of the 40s and 50s, Bagley school merged with the Pecan Gap schools. The community was still shown on TXDoT's detailed county map in 2001.

Jot 'Em Down by Bob Bowman

Anyone who listened to the radio in the 1930s and 1940s remembers Lum and Abner, the mythical storekeepers invented by Chet Lauck and Norris Goff.

From their Jot 'Em Down Store in Pine Ridge, Arkansas, Lum and Abner evolved into one of the nation's most popular radio series.

But if you ask old timers in Delta County, Texas, they'll tell you with pride that they remember when the Jot 'Em Down Store was in East Texas.

Also known as Mohegan, Muddig Prairie and Bagley, Jot 'Em Down was on the James H. Larabee Survey, which was occupied by 1885 when the Bagley school opened.

In 1937, when Lela McDonnold, the wife of pioneer farmer Pleasant T. McDonnold, had a heart attack, the doctor said it was the result of doing the laundry by hand for her eight children down through the years.

One of her sons, blind Dion McDonnold, decided that he would build a washateria and a country store on his property to make it easier for women in the community to do the laundry and, hopefully, extend their lives.

Dion and a brother, Doug, who lived in nearby Pecan Gap, called a meeting of the people in the community to see if they would support a washateria. The prospect of no longer having to fill a wash pot in the yard, boil out clothes, rinse them in several tubs of fresh water, and then wring them out by hand was understandably enthusiastic.

When Doug and Dion asked for suggestions for the store's name, someone suggested "the Jot 'Em Down store," which was the name of Lum and Abner's radio establishment. "And there," said a kibitzer, pointing to Doug and Dion, "are our Lum and Abner."

The McDonnolds had a large pond built to hold water for the washateria, terraced the land so it would funnel rain water to the pond, and started construction of a combination store and laundry. Unfortunately, Lela died before its completion.

The Jot 'Em Down Store was an immediate success. Customers came from early in the morning until late at night. Dion had to set up a lunch counter to accommodate customers.

When the Texas Highway Department started looking for the town's name to put on maps, officials used Jot 'Em Down, and the name stuck.

When Jot 'Em Down's farmers starting talking about a cotton gin since the pond built by the McDonnolds could furnish sufficient water for the gin's needs, the Jot 'Em Down Cooperative Gin Association was born.

During World War II, Jot 'Em Down began to change with other East Texas communities. Most of the community's men marched off to war and its women moved to towns like Dallas and Fort Worth to find jobs in defense industries.

And when rural electrification came along and home washing machines and dryers became readily available, there was no longer a need for the Jot 'Em Down Washateria. The store also found it could not compete with larger grocery stores in neighboring towns like Cooper and farmers carried their cotton to larger towns to be ginned.

Today, there is little left of old Jot 'Em Down on the wide-open blackland praiaries in far western Delta County. The town's highway signs are stolen as quickly as they are placed on the roadside.

The old radio series, The Lum and Abner Show, disappeared from the radio airwaves decades ago. Chet Lauck and Norris Goff are also gone, but there is still a Jot 'Em Store and Lum and Abner Museum at Pine Ridge, a dozen or so miles east of Mena, Arkansas.


All Things Historical
October 1, 2006 Column

Jot 'Em Down, Texas Forum

I was reading your story about Jot 'Em Down, Texas. I thought you would like to know that the radio program was called "Lum and Abner" instead of the other way around. The characters were Lum Ed'ards as he called himself and Abner Peabody. I used a voice on radio inspired by Abner. Many other Disk Jockeys did too. Our whole family listened to the show every day. The program was second only to "Amos 'N Andy". People told me that if your radio happened to go dead all you had to do was sit on your front porch and you could hear the program all up and down the block. We couldn't do that in Spunky Flat. Our nearest neighbor was a quarter mile away and nobody else had a radio anyway. - George Lester, May 02, 2005

Jot 'Em Down, Texas Area Towns:
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Cooper | Sulphur Springs | Pecan Gap
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