Music brought couple to Clovis

By Don McAlavy: Local columnist

The parents of Harold and Sheila (McGinnis) Phillips were Quakers, and so were Harold and Sheila who had come to Clovis in 1953. In 1977 Sheila gave me two books written by her mother, Edith B. McGinnis who died in 1976. The books were “First Quakers in Texas,” and “I Remember” (the remembrance of her life when she was in her 80s).

To tell of the life of Harold and Sheila one has to step back in time. Sheila’s grandparents and her mother (who was only 2 years old) went from California to Kansas by covered wagon (to visit kin) and a bit later they moved to Estacado, Texas (east of Lubbock) where the first Quakers in Texas settled.

This Quaker settlement lasted only 12 years because of three things: seven years of severe drought; wells insufficient to avert crop failure, and a conflict of section lines leaving some people without valid titles to their land. One could also blame part of it on whiskey that the cowboys took to the little community. The Quakers did not fancy hard drinking. The Quakers went seeking a better element in which to raise their children.

After six moves, another Quaker settlement near Galveston, Texas, in 1896, Friendswood, was established by Sheila’s grandparents, the Browns. The huge 1900 hurricane hit Galveston killing thousands of people.

Sheila was born in Friendswood in 1919, following the birth of three brothers with one dying.

Harold Phillips came from a Quaker settlement, Haviland, Kan., where he was born and raised. He and Sheila met at the same church camp, Camp Wood. Harold was 20 and Sheila 16. Harold once stated “We met at Camp Wood playing table tennis. It was nearly love at first sight.”

Sheila’s uncle paid for her way in college. Harold taught music in eastern and western Kansas.

Sheila went to Friends University at Wichita, Kan. Harold went to Kansas University. They were 125 miles apart but corresponded and saw each other occasionally.

They were married on Aug. 9, 1940, at Friendswood with relatives on both sides attending. They had two children. Daughter Jane Henry lived at Portales and had two children, and son Bill, a doctor, lived in San Antonio, and had three children.

Now how did Harold and Sheila happen to come to Clovis? He met a man in Kansas City that distributed hardware, a lot of it music instruments. This man told Harold that he ought to move to Clovis, knowing Harold was teaching music.

So Harold and Sheila moved to Clovis in 1953 and bought former Scott Music at 209 Main. Phillips House of Music moved to 118 Main.

There were two other musicians in business in 1953: R. B. Stratton, and Ted Raven.

Harold sold out in 1981, and became one of Norvil Howell’s best musicians in the Clovis Community Band. He had an ear for music and sound.

Harold Wesley Phillips died April 30, 1994. Sheila continues to gather family history and binds them into notebooks. She is a doll!

Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at: