James Benjamin “Jim” Love was the younger brother of Robert Florence Love. Both were sons of John Dillard Love and Mary Jane Austin Love. Jim was born on September 25, 1873 in Palo Pinto, Stephens County, Texas. By the time he was about seventeen, he began working on ranches in West Texas and on into New Mexico. (1) Jim’s father John D. Love died in 1889 at the age of 76. His mother survived John for about seventeen years and died at the age of 69.
Jim had met Mary Myrtleene “Myrtle” Ward who was living in Fort Griffin, north of Albany, Texas. Myrtle had been born in a rock house in old Fort Griffin, the town, according to her daughter Anemone Binkley’s account. There is only one remaining intact structure where Fort Griffin was located. It is called the Jackson-Ward house and is still standing, at last report. This is probably the house that Mrs. Binkley was referring to.
Their first child, a daughter named Emma Leona was born the following year in Turkey, Texas. Another daughter, Ruth Alma, was born two years later in 1906. Soon afterward, the young family moved to southeastern New Mexico, then still a territory and settling first in the general area of Knowles. By about 1908, they were living in what would become the town of Lovington, named after the two brothers.(1)
Jim operated the first mercantile store in Lovington on property he had acquired around what would eventually become the town square. To their family, five more children were born: Velma (1908), Jordan Ward (1910), Mary Kathleen (1910), Myrtle Jim (1914) and Anemone (1918).
Jim Love died in 1945. Myrtle survived him about 26 years until she passed in 1971. The home they lived in, pictured below, was originally located at 109 S. Eddy Street. In the spring of 1975, the children of Jim and Myrtle Love donated the home to the Lea County Museum. At that time, most of the children were still living, with the exception of Jordan, who had passed away in the previous year. The residence was later moved about two blocks to a location behind the Lea County Museum on Love Street, on the courthouse square. The home was renovated and furnished as it would have been in the past.
(1) Lea County Genealogical Society, “Then and Now – Lea County Families, Vol. 1,” Walsworth Publishing Company, 1979.