There is a part of Marfa’s history that is very different from the current hip, artsy place most people think of when they hear the name. Back in 1911, the Mexican Revolution was underway. Fearing that Mexican troops might attack across the border, the U.S. government sent cavalry troops to Presidio County to protect its citizens. Camp Albert, later changed to Camp Marfa, the post was also home to Signal Corps biplanes that patrolled the Rio Grande during the conflict. Units from Fort Bliss went to Camp Marfa on a rotational basis for field training. The role and size of Camp Marfa grew during World War I to include state, federal and National Guard troops. Following WWI, the War Department used a large donated tract of land near Marfa to train combat troops.
In 1930, Camp Marfa was renamed Fort D. A. Russell in honor of Gen. David Allen Russell, a native New Yorker who served in the Mexican War and died during the Civil War. Only a year later, the government began discussions to abandon the fort and its $480,000 annual payroll. The citizens of Marfa fought hard to keep the fort open, but lost the fight in 1932 and the installation was turned over to caretakers.
However, the closure was short-lived. In 1935 the post was reopened to house 700 men of the Seventy-seventh Field Artillery. The first group scheduled for officer training arrived in 1938 and training continued at the fort for several years. Prior to and during World War II, Fort Russell added 2,400 acres donated by the citizens of Marfa, planted 1,000 trees, improved existing buildings, and built new ones. By this time 1,000 men were stationed at the fort. In 1944 the first woman officer was assigned to the post, and civilian women replaced soldiers as drivers of cars and trucks. During the war a camp for prisoners of war also was established at Marfa. Texas had approximately twice as many POW camps as any other state, first because of the available space, and second, curiously, because of the climate. The Geneva Convention of 1929 requires that prisoners of war be moved to a climate similar to that where they are captured; apparently it was thought that the climate of Texas is similar to that of North Africa.
Fort D. A. Russell was deactivated in 1945. In 1949 most of the fort area and facilities were sold to private citizens. Today, shells of former barracks and other buildings dot the weed-covered grounds. Some buildings have been repurposed to serve as home to the Chinati Foundation and a museum for the artwork of Donald Judd and others.
REFERENCES: Lee Bennett, “FORT D. A. RUSSELL,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qbf14), accessed November 10, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Named for Col. C. M. Winkler, famed Texas Confederate soldier, Winkler County was originally settled by Comanche Indians who ruled the area until 1874. Cattle ranching was the economic driver of the county until 1926, when oil was discovered by Roy Westbrook on the Hendrick Ranch. The Hendrick Oilfield transformed Winkler County almost overnight.
By mid-1927 the Wink Townsite Company was selling lots in Horse Wells pasture of the T. G. Hendrick Ranch. The oil boom brought new people to Wink, causing a shortage of housing. Newcomers set up tents and built makeshift houses. Wink was originally named Winkler for the county. When a post office was requested, postal authorities notified the applicant that there was already a Winkler, Texas, post office already in operation. The citizens shortened the name to Wink and received a post office in 1927.
That year the first public school was organized, and a temporary building was constructed. A Sunday school was started by November 1927, and the population of the town was reported at 3,500. By 1929 that number climbed to 6,000. The boom brought lawlessness-bootlegging, prostitution, gambling-to Wink. Even the city government, which was organized on June 4, 1928, came under the control of a well-organized underworld. On October 16, 1928, District Judge Charles Klapproth declared the incorporation election void, and the city government was reorganized. In December of that year the first municipal building was constructed; it was a jail. In 1929 the Texas-New Mexico Railway built its tracks from Wink Junction to Wink, connecting the town to Monahans and to New Mexico and providing a much-needed transportation outlet for the crude being pumped. In the 1930s the boom declined; the population hovered around 4,000, and the number of businesses fluctuated between fifty and 180. It was during this time in the late-20s to early-30s that the Rig Theater (photo above) was built. The building’s façade features highly detailed brickwork in a variety of patterns. Stone parapets with diamond-shaped finials cap the brick walls. A small version of a drilling rig topped the canopy over the building’s entrance. An early manager of the Rig Theater was Joe A. “Pop” DeIorio.
By 1933 the town was legally incorporated. Five hospitals and fifteen doctors served injured oilfield workers, expectant mothers, and epidemic victims. Law and order became the rule. Throughout the 1940s the population continued to decline from 1,945 to 1,521, and the number of businesses decreased from 130 to forty. In December 1947 Winkler County State Bank opened in Wink. Wink entered the 1950s a stable community with a population of just over 1,500. The number of businesses varied in the decade from twenty-five to fifty. In 1958 the railroad from Wink Junction to Wink was abandoned. During the early 1960s the population rose to over 1,800 but dipped to under 1,200 by 1968. The number of businesses jumped between fifty-five and twenty. In July 1960 the federal government approved an application by Wink for more than a million dollars in urban renewal funds to upgrade and rehabilitate 221 acres within the city limits. National attention focused on the small oil town, which used the money for paving and curb and gutter work. The population continued to decline to under 1,200 in the 1970s and 1980s. In the late 1970s the oil economy improved, but the number of businesses slipped to a low of five by the late 1980s. Wink is on Monument Draw, State Highway 115, and Farm Road 1232, seven miles southwest of Kermit in southwestern Winkler County.
REFERENCES: Julia Cauble Smith, “WINK, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlw42), accessed December 15, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Crane, on U.S. Highway 385 and State Highway 329 in eastern Crane County, was named for Baylor University president William C. Crane. It is the seat and only town of the county and has the county’s only post office, which was founded in 1908. The discovery of oil in the county in 1926 led to the county’s organization the next year and to Crane’s development as an oil boomtown. Ollin Columbus Kinnison opened a realty office and platted a townsite, naming the streets for his daughters and sons. Early residents had to put up with board sidewalks, unpaved roads, and limited services-including hauling their own water-until permanent housing and city utilities were built. At one point – water was so scarce that women sent their laundry to El Paso by train. Schools and other amenities were established at Crane as the local oil resources were exploited.
The population reached 1,400 in 1940, which was about the time that Texas’ rural population was outnumbered by its urban population. In Crane’s case, the urban population always outnumbered the rural. By 1980 the town had a library, a swimming pool, and 104 businesses. These included a steel foundry, a concrete plant, a nursing home, and a hospital (that was enlarged in 1962). A special edition of the Crane News in 1972 celebrated the county’s production of one billion barrels of oil. In the 1980s the town was the service center for the region’s flourishing oil industry. Oil continues to be Crane’s main revenue source. Farming has never been big in Crane County and cattle is a distant second source of revenue.
REFERENCE: William R. Hunt, “CRANE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hgc17), accessed July 08, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association and Texas Escapes online magazine..
Originally established in the early 1880s as a cotton and cattle shipping point on the Texas and Pacific Railway, Loraine saw little development in its early years. A post office opened there in 1890, and a school was built in 1893. A hotel, a grocery, and a hardware store reportedly operated at the site before 1905. In that year Parson Crandall bought the townsite land from the railroad and platted the town.
Growth was rapid after the town was platted. A weekly newspaper began publication there in 1906, and the community was incorporated by 1910. In 1914, when its population was an estimated 800, Loraine supported more than forty retail and service businesses, including a bank, a commercial club, and an electric utility company. During the 1920s Loraine had an aldermanic form of government, operated its own public water system, and provided both high school and grade school facilities to local students. In the 1930s cotton ginning grew in importance, and the town was recognized as a shipping, marketing, and ginning center.
Population estimates for Loraine ranged between 700 and 750 during this period. A hospital was opened at the community in 1938. During the 1940s the town was known for its cheese factory, for its annual dairy show, and as the headquarters for the Loraine Cooperative Association, which handled the milk supply for several surrounding counties. The number of businesses at Loraine varied from an estimated high of fifty-five in 1940 to a low of thirty-four in 1947. Population estimates remained at around 700 in the 1940s but rose to more than 1,000 during the 1950s, though the number of businesses began a steady decline.
Loraine is on U.S. Highway 20/80, Farm Road 644, and the Missouri Pacific line, ten miles east of Colorado City and fifty-eight miles west of Abilene in northeastern Mitchell County. Three conflicting stories concerning the town’s name exist: the first says that Loraine was named for a railroad official’s wife, the second that the community was named for the daughter or wife (possibly Loraine Crandall) of a local landowner, and the third that the town was named for the French region of Lorraine.
REFERENCE: Patricia L. Duncan, “LORAINE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hll60), accessed July 08, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Rankin, the county seat of Upton County, is in the southeast part of the county at the junction of U.S. Highway 67 and State Highway 349, ten miles west of the Reagan county line. It is in the heart of the Permian Basin and is the oldest town in the county, having been established in 1911. The town, named for early day rancher F. E. Rankin, was founded after Upland, then the county seat and eleven miles north, was missed when the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway was routed south instead of following the Butterfield Overland Mail route along Centralia Draw to the north. Rankin received a post office in 1912. Most Upland homes and businesses were moved to the new railroad town of Rankin, but it was not designated county seat until March 20, 1921. Rankin remained a small ranching community until the mid-1920s, when oil was discovered in the surrounding area. Santa Rita, McCamey and Yates fields opened up and the population soared. It was estimated at 1,500 in 1928. During this boom period, electric, telephone, and water systems were enlarged. Two forty-six room hotels, an $80,000 brick school building, a courthouse, and a two-story office building were erected. A bank was established, and a weekly newspaper, the Upton County Journal, started publication. The city was incorporated in 1928.
The year before the city was incorporated, rancher/oilman Ira Yates (a newly minted millionaire) built a three-story hotel in Rankin out of sand-colored brick. The hotel had 46 rooms, one of which was kept by Yates for frequent games of poker. There were no en suite bathrooms at the Yates. Guests had to walk down the hall to a shared facility. Due to its construction, the Yates Hotel was the only fireproof hotel at the time between Fort Worth and El Paso. It even housed a restaurant and a barber shop. One can imagine the business deals made and the hands of poker played at the Yates during its heyday.
When no oil was discovered close to Rankin, people left and the boom was over. By 1931 the population had dropped to 935. The Great Depression took its toll, and in 1940 the population had dropped to 672. In the late 1940s the Benedum field north of town came in, and the economy was again on the upswing. This boom period brought a hospital, a community building, three new school buildings, a country club, and a library. The population doubled by the 1950s to 1,132. Rankin remained stable with a total of 1,121 residents and thirty listed businesses in 1970 and 1,278 residents and twenty-four businesses in 1980. In the 1990s the city had six churches, four parks, a nine-hole golf course, a swimming pool, and a roping arena, and the Yates Hotel housed the Rankin Museum. The area had pecan orchards and irrigated farms, but oil, sheep, and cattle continued to be the base of the economy.
REFERENCE: Ann M. Clark, “RANKIN, TX (UPTON COUNTY),” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hjr04), accessed December 09, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Monahans is at the intersection of Farm Road 18 and Interstate Highway 20, thirty-six miles southwest of Odessa in northeast Ward County. The town was named for Thomas John (Pat) Monahan, who dug the first water well between the Pecos River and Big Spring at Monahans in 1881 and selected the site for a water tank, around which a ranch supply point later developed. The town was originally called Monahan’s Well. The Texas and Pacific Railway reached the site in August 1881. A post office was established at Monahans in 1883, and in 1900 James R. Holman opened the Monahans Hotel, a landmark for prospectors and land agents. Growth was slow. A public school was begun in 1898; the following year thirty-six students attended. The precinct that included Pyote and Monahans had 222 residents in 1900; by 1905 Monahans itself had an estimated population of eighty-nine. In 1910 the precinct had a population of 378, two churches, and several businesses. Monahans did not begin to grow more rapidly until the opening of the nearby Hendrick oilfield in 1926. The town was incorporated in 1928, and Fred G. Gipson was elected the first mayor. In 1929 the Texas-New Mexico Railway completed tracks from Monahans to Lovington, New Mexico, to handle the increasing transportation demands of the oilfields. By 1930 the population had increased to 816.
The 1930s were boom years. A carbon black plant opened in 1937 at Monahans, and a chemical plant opened the following year. In 1938 Monahans became the county seat in place of Barstow, which was becoming a service and supply center for oil activity. By 1940 the population of Monahans had grown to 3,944. The Texas Electric Service Company’s Permian Basin Generating Station began in 1948 and developed into a large plant. The population increased to 6,311 in 1950 and 8,567 in 1960. As oil activity subsequently declined, the population of Monahans also decreased; it was 8,333 in 1970 and an estimated 8,397 in 1982. In 1990 it was 8,101. The population dropped to 6,821 in 2000.
REFERENCE: Glenn Justice, “MONAHANS, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hfm05), accessed March 14, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Bula, on Farm Road 54 in southeastern Bailey County, was established in 1924 and originally named Newsome, for the Newsome Ranch owned by W.B. Newsome, a prominent Dallas banker and director of the Dallas District of the Federal Reserve Bank, and his son Tom, a Dallas businessman.
After the town was named Newsome, the town was notified by the US Post Office Department that there was already another post office by that name. The town was renamed Bula in 1925, in honor of either Bula Maude Oakes, daughter of Methodist preacher Roma A. Oakes, or Bula Thorn, wife of William H. Thorn, the first postmaster – the latter being the more logical reason.
Bailey County was carved out of Bexar County in 1876, but settlement didn’t come quickly as much of the County land was held by the XIT Ranch, the Newsome Ranch, and others. The breakup of the XIT started in 1901. The Newsomes followed suit and subdivided their ranch into farms of 177.7 acres and sold to farmers in 1924–25. Discovery of ground water at depths of only twenty to forty feet made the land, once only suitable for ranching, much more suitable for wheat, corn and forage crops. However, it was the rapid expansion of cotton farming that was responsible for development of Bailey County and Bula. The first cotton grown in Bailey County was shipped to Plainview for ginning. A cotton gin was built in Bula in 1929.
In 1925 Bula also opened a school to serve the town and surrounding farms. Its school later moved to a site about five miles southwest of the community. The school building (pictured above), most likely built as a WPA project, was closed in 1975. The vacated building burned sometime after its closure.
REFERENCES: William R. Hunt, “BULA, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlb61), accessed October 15, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association. William R. Hunt and John Leffler, “BAILEY COUNTY,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hcb01), accessed October 28, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I drove by this old, restored Sinclair Gas Station. Not only is it one of the quaintest gas stations I’ve ever seen, it dredged up a lot of old memories from my childhood when my Dad worked for Sinclair Oil & Gas. Snyder is the county seat of Scurry County and sits at the junction of U.S. highways 84 and 180, eighty-seven miles southeast of Lubbock.
Snyder had its beginnings in 1878, when a buffalo hunter and trader, William Henry (Pete) Snyder, a native of Pennsylvania, built a trading post on the banks of Deep Creek. Other hunters were attracted to the post, and a colony of buffalo-hide dwellings grew up around it. These dwellings, as well as the occasionally dubious character of their inhabitants, gave the town its first names, “Hide Town,” and “Robber’s Roost.” In 1882 Snyder drew up a town plan and invited immigration. The first public school was established sometime that year. In 1884, when Scurry County was organized, Synder’s settlement was chosen as the county seat. By 1892 Snyder had a population of 600, two churches, two banks, a steam gin, a gristmill, and two weekly newspapers, the Scurry County Citizen and the Coming West. Construction began on the Roscoe, Snyder and Pacific Railway in 1907, the same year that Snyder’s city charter was granted. In 1911 the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway laid tracks through Snyder.
By 1910, the first year census figures were recorded for Snyder, the town had a population of 2,514. A women’s literary circle, the Altrurian Club, was formed in 1908, and eventually spawned eight more study clubs. While the public school system was still developing, these clubs performed significant educational functions; later their focus changed to public service. Snyder remained a farming and ranching community until 1948, when oil was discovered on the Canyon Reef formation north of town. Within a year the population jumped from around 4,000 to over 12,000, a tent and trailer city sprang up on the town’s northern edge. The boom was over by late 1951, and the population, which had peaked at around 16,000, stabilized at 11,000. Snyder was left an ugly city with many vacant or half-completed buildings. During the 1960s city officials began refurbishing, and in 1964 a long-range planning committee improved opportunities for low-income citizens. By 1968 in a contest cosponsored by the National Municipal League and Look Magazine, the city was named one of only eleven All-American cities in the United States. Large industries located in Snyder during the late 1960s and the early 1970s, and its population began to rise again.
By 1960 Snyder had seven elementary schools, two junior highs, and a high school. In 1969 a long string of failed attempts finally culminated in the approval of a proposal for a junior college, and in the fall of 1971 the new Western Texas College opened with 649 students. In 1986 enrollment was over 1,000. The Diamond M Foundation was established in 1950 by oilman and rancher Clarence T. McLaughlin to collect works of American artists. The Diamond M Museum opened in 1964 and five years later doubled in size. In1990 it housed over eighty bronzes and 200 paintings, including works by Andrew Wyeth and Peter Hurd, and is considered among the best collections in Texas. In 1980 Snyder had a population of 12,705. The Snyder Daily News has been published since 1950. Oil has remained important to the city’s economy. In the late 1960s Scurry County became the leading oil-producing county in Texas as the result of a locally developed method of injecting carbon dioxide into the formation to increase the pressure and thereby increase the yield. In 1973 Scurry oil companies recovered their billionth barrel of oil.
Noel Wiggins, “SNYDER, TX (SCURRY COUNTY),” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hes04), accessed March 14, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Finding an abandoned Carmelite monastery on the dusty plains of West Texas was a surprise to me. However, evidence of the impact of German settlers was not. Fanning out from their port of entry, Galveston, German immigrants played a large role in the settlement of Texas and, as Texans, our collective culture bears the imprint of the culture and religious faith of those German settlers.
Stanton, the county seat of Martin County, is on Interstate Highway 20 100 miles south of Lubbock in the southeastern part of the county. In 1881 the Texas and Pacific Railway built a two-story section house, a pump, and a water tank at a small settlement in Martin County then known as Grelton. While searching for a place to establish a German Catholic colony, John Jacob Konz of Anderson County, Kansas, met Charles Froesee, who surveyed the land around Grelton and marked off town lots. Konz returned to Kansas and organized a settlement party, and on August 15, 1881, five men, including Konz’s son Adam Konz and Father Christian D. (Anastasius) Peters, arrived in Grelton. In October 1881 a load of lumber arrived, and the first buildings and homes were built. The next year Konz built a general store. The elder Konz led more Kansas settlers who arrived in 1882, and two of Father Peters’s cousins were part of a group which came from Pocahontas, Arkansas.
In 1883, the year a post office was granted and J. B. Konz named postmaster, another settlement party arrived. Father Peters and his brother Boniface, also a priest, wrote promotional bulletins and even traveled to Germany to publicize the colony. In 1885 Father Anastasius and others organized a sale of town lots. Citizens constructed the first permanent courthouse and petitioned the railroad to change the name of the town to Marienfeld (German for “Field of Mary”). There being no objection, the railroad agreed. By 1885 Marienfeld had several businesses including a hotel, a wagon yard, several stores, a courthouse, a jail, a school, the Catholic complex, and railroad operations. Within three months of their arrival Konz and Father Anastasius had built the first Catholic Church in West Texas. A year later they built a two-story adobe monastery for the Carmelite order, of which fathers Anastasius and Boniface were members, which also housed the first school in West Texas. In 1894 a group of nuns of the Sisters of Mercy arrived and opened the Convent and Academy of Our Lady of Mercy. For many years the school was the only Catholic academy between Fort Worth and El Paso, attracted students from all of West Texas. The convent and monastery also served as a base for mission activities. The nuns opened schools and hospitals in Big Spring, Pecos, Menard, Fort Stockton, and Slaton.
In order to ensure the survival of Marienfeld, Father Anastasius was eager to put the town on a firm economic footing. Despite the fact that ranching had previously been the primary form of land use in the area, he believed that the county’s future lay with agriculture. The T&P sold land for $1.50 to $2.00 an acre, most of which was used for farming. Shortly after building the station house, the railroad had established a twenty-acre demonstration farm and planted wheat, oats, barley, and rye. Father Anastasius followed the railroad’s lead, and in 1884 wheat from Marienfeld won the gold medal at the New Orleans World Exposition. Their early successes concealed the fact that the German settlers knew little about the West Texas climate. A drought in 1886 and 1887 took them completely by surprise; this and the winter blizzards of 1886 almost destroyed the colony. Many of the settlers moved to Big Spring, and immigration came to a standstill. For almost six years no crops were planted. Still persistent, Father Anastasius founded the Marienfeld Fruit Growing, Gardening, and Irrigation Company in 1888. His persistence could not, however, change the West Texas climate, and the company’s charter was allowed to lapse in 1895. Though most of those who moved away during the drought were Catholic, most who arrived afterwards were Protestant, so that by the 1890s Catholics were in the minority.
In 1890 the town was renamed Stanton, for Edwin McMasters Stanton, a Supreme Court justice and secretary of war under President Lincoln. Public school students chose the name. The next few years saw the organization of several Protestant congregations: the Baptist in 1898, the Church of Christ in 1904, and the Methodist in 1905. In 1910 the Santa Fe Railroad started construction of a branch line, never completed, from Stanton to Lamesa, and Stanton residents built a new $40,000 courthouse. The town was incorporated in 1925, and S. C. (Tink) Houston became the first mayor. That same year the Sisters of Mercy in Stanton merged with the Sisters of Mercy of the Diocese of Oklahoma, and most of the nuns left Stanton. Formal education in Stanton began with the opening of the first Catholic school in 1882. The first public school opened two years later with H. V. Moultan as teacher. In 1909 a two-story red brick schoolhouse replaced an older two-room building. The first high school opened in 1926. White, Hispanic, and black students attended separate schools until 1949; black students were bused to Midland if they wished to attend high school.
Like many other West Texas towns, Stanton vied to become home of Texas Technological College, founded in the 1920s, but lost out to Lubbock. Enrollment at the Catholic academy had already fallen sharply when in 1938 a tornado severely damaged the buildings and the school closed. Stanton’s first library was established by the Stanton Reading Club in 1914. The first newspaper was the Marienfeld News, published by A. Rawlins from 1887 until the early 1890s. The Stanton Courier was first issued in 1904 with J. LeRoy Lancaster as editor; a little over a year later it was replaced by the Stanton Reporter, which was in publication until 1984, when it became the Martin County News. Ranching and farming, primarily cotton farming, remained the dominant economic activities in Stanton until 1951, when the Stanton oilfield went into production. In the wake of the oil boom Stanton acquired a new jail and the courthouse was remodeled. Two major oil companies were headquartered in Stanton. Oil and gas production, together with farming and ranching, formed the base of the economy in the 1980s. During the 1950s Stanton acquired a cotton compress and the $205,000Martin County Memorial Hospital. A flood in September 1950 caused more than $50,000 damage in the town. In 1977 the T&P discontinued service to Stanton, but two bus lines and a municipal airport continued to serve the town.
REFERENCES: Noel Wiggins and Karla James, “STANTON, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hjs25), accessed January 28, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
In its heyday sixty years ago in the late 1940s, Draw, Texas was a bustling, if not exactly thriving, little village of perhaps 200 people. It boasted two general stores, a blacksmith shop, one or two cafes (depending on the season of the year), a cotton gin, a small lumberyard, a Methodist church, a large six-room redbrick schoolhouse with an auditorium/gymnasium, and at least a dozen proper residential buildings, along with various lesser dwellings — railroad boxcars and a tin shanty or two — that housed gin workers and itinerants. Both general stores also doubled as gas stations and carried a stock of hardware goods, livestock feed, and small farm implements. To one was attached an ice house, for the summertime storage (but not manufacture) of block ice, which was transported from the ice plant in Tahoka. Later a second gin was built, adjacent to the first and operated by the same company, and in the fall ginning sometimes went on twenty-four hours a day for several months, from September until December. In those years of bumper cotton crops in the late 1940s, one or another itinerant tent movie operations appeared at the beginning of the harvest season and set up on some lot near the gin, showing old cowboy movies and catering to both locals and the hordes of Mexican-American families who flocked into the community to pick cotton each fall. Today, Draw is a ghost town. The gins and all the other businesses (and many houses) are gone; perhaps a dozen people live there, mostly in trailers scattered among the ruins.
The earliest evidence of Draw’s existence comes not from contemporaneous records but from the memories of those who, fifty years later, contributed to a history of the Methodist Church there. As early as 1901, there existed a small building used as a school house and located some one and a half miles northwest of the present location of Draw. About 1904, this building was moved to a site three and a half miles northeast of present Draw and became known as “Moore’s Draw School House,” apparently taking its name from a geographical feature and the otherwise unknown settler named Moore (possibly spelled “Mooar”) who was identified with it. How “Moore’s Draw” was shortened and moved to its present location is unknown; one can only assume that soon afterwards there were the stirrings of some sort of commercial activity at the crossroads of what are now the small highways designated FM (Farm-to-Market) 213 and 1054, and those who used “Moore’s Draw School House” as both school and church decided that was the place to be. Obviously, the shorter version of the name followed along.
Close City, on Ranch Road 399 two miles north of U.S. Highway 380 and eleven miles west of Post in western Garza County, was on a site within the area purchased in 1906 by Charles William Post for his projected settlement. So many of the first inhabitants used tents for homes that the village was called Ragtown, but it was later renamed Close City after Post’s son-in-law, E. B. Close (Edward Bennett Close), who married his daughter Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1905. For a while Post encouraged construction there, until surveyors discovered that the site was eleven miles from the geographical center of the county and thus could not serve as the location of the county seat. Post ordered work to stop in Close City and he shifted resources to a site located nearer the center of the county – the present site of Post. Close City consequently developed slowly. By 1920 it had a store, a school, two churches, and a population of fifty.
In 1909, Close City students attended classes in a one-room wooden schoolhouse built as a commissary school. A common school district was established in 1916. In 1919, George Samson and Jimmie Napier built a new, one-story brick schoolhouse. Two years later, a second story was added. This building served the community well until 1965, when Close City School was consolidated with the Post Independent School District.
The town site was chosen as the original location of Post City, a model community and grand social experiment conceived by C. W. Post, an American breakfast cereal and foods manufacturer. In the early 1890s, Post developed a popular caffeine-free coffee substitute called Postum and later made a fortune on breakfast cereals such as Grape Nuts and Post Toasties. As Post’s wealth grew, his interests began to expand into other areas. One project that had always intrigued him was the creation of a planned community of model homes and industry. His success in the prepared foods industry provided the financial resources to make this dream a reality.
Today, Close City is primarily a farming community and is surrounded by numerous sections of plowed land. The primary crop is cotton but lesser amounts of grain sorghum and winter wheat are also grown in the area. Crops are grown on a mixture of irrigated and dryland farms. Water for irrigation is pumped from the underlying Ogallala Aquifer and is applied using center pivot irrigation systems. The Ogallala Aquifer is quickly becoming depleted and, sometime in the future, all farms may have to revert to dryland agriculture.
REFERENCES: Julius A. Amin, “Close City, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hrc72, accessed July 4, 2012, Published by the Texas State Historical Association; Charles D. Eaves and C. A. Hutchinson. 1952. Post City, Texas. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 171 pp; Donald R. Abbe and Paul H. Carlson. 2008. Historic Garza County: an Illustrated History. San Antonio: Historical Pub. Network, p. 23; Recorded Texas Historic Landmark: Old Close City School, erected in 1968 by the Texas Historical Commission, marker number 3710; Linda Puckett. 2010. Images of America: Garza County. Arcadia Publishing, p. 39.
Fluvanna is at the junction of Farm roads 612, 1267, and 2350, sixty-six miles southeast of Lubbock in northwestern Scurry County. Named for a surveyor’s home county in Virginia, Fluvanna was established by realty promoters who knew that the Roscoe, Snyder and Pacific Railway would terminate at its site. By the time the railroad arrived in 1908, the townsite had already been staked off and lots put on sale. It boomed briefly and by 1911 had two real estate offices, a thirty-room hotel, a lumberyard, a cotton gin, and other businesses. Fluvanna was also home to the Fluvanna Mercantile Company. This store joins the ranks of a handful of other famous Texas general merchandise stores around the state which are a type of functioning museum. Started in 1915, by two partners named Stavely and Jones, the store operated for profit, but also with a strong sense of community. It bartered its goods for eggs and cream during the depression and continued operations even after the railroad pulled out. The community’s population in 1915 was estimated at 500, and in 1920 and 1940, at 375. Fluvanna’s importance lessened when major highways bypassed the area, and when the Roscoe, Snyder and Pacific closed the Fluvanna station in 1941, the town’s days as a shipping center were over. In 1980 Fluvanna had a post office, an estimated population of 180, and at least four businesses.
REFERENCES: Noel Wiggins, “FLUVANNA, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlf18), accessed July 07, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; TexasEscapes online.
Grassland is two miles south of U.S. Highway 380 and two miles west of the Garza county line in east central Lynn County. It is Lynn County’s oldest community, having been established around the ranch headquarters of Enos and Thomas Seeds in 1888. Their ranch was named Grasslands, and in 1889 it became the county’s second post office with Enos Seeds serving as the Postmaster. By 1900 the ranch had been broken up and sold to farmers. A small agricultural community, with an economy dominated by cotton farming and a modest ginning industry, slowly evolved around the site of the old Grasslands ranch. By 1930 Grassland had seventy-six residents. From the 1940s through the 1970s the population was recorded as 200. It had dropped to sixty-one by 1980. In 1974 Grassland still had two cotton gins, a store, and a station. The population was still sixty-one in 1990.
REFERENCES: Donald R. Abbe, “GRASSLAND, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hng25). Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Sitting at the intersection of Farm Roads 179 and 213 in southwestern Lynn County, are the remains of the last school building built in the community of New Moore. The roof is gone, but enough remains of the structural clay tile walls to discern four classrooms. Fertile fields surround the ruins, so it’s encouraging that landowners have preserved this remnant of New Moore.
In 1892, Samuel F. Singleton and Marion Virgil “Pap” Brownfield filed on 16 sections of land along the present-day Lynn and Terry County lines for future cattle, railroad and township purposes. In 1896, Singleton sent his son, Willie and a cook to the area to set up camp. As with many business propositions, the men had different ideas about the use of the land. The men decided to part ways and divided the land. Singleton ended up with the Lynn County territory and Brownfield, the Terry County land.
Singleton then purchased the nearby Slash L Ranch, consisting of 30 sections, in 1898. He put more than 5,000 head of cattle on the land. However, the problem of drought and poor watering holes forced the rancher to spend $19,000 to dig wells. The most successful and least tainted water came from present day New Moore. After Singleton’s death in 1922, the family decided to sell the ranch. W.McCarty Moore from Dallas purchased approximately 17,000 acres and commissioned G.O. Newman of Newman Bros. Land Development Co. in Fort Worth to market his purchase. To prove the worth of the land the company broke and planted 3,000 acres in cotton in 1924. Within the year, the company sold inexpensive land of 13,240 acres to about 50 farmers who came largely from the Nolan County area.
As families with the names of Rogers, Bevel, Crutcher, Strasner, Light, Pharr, Parker, Fails, and Isreal came to western Lynn County, the company dubbed the settled area New Moore in honor of Newman and Moore. In 1924, Moore built the Slash L School on the west side of the land that later came to be known as the Marshall place, about five miles southwest of New Moore. The school was to take care of the many children of the new farmers. The school building was a crude, one-room structure, without water or electricity. It had many windows to let in light, according to Hoskins’ New Moore, Texas account.
“Mesquite wood was used in the stove to warm the building. The room held from five to seven grades with one teacher for all students. Mrs. Ella Walker from Wolfe City was an early teacher there. Moore personally paid her salary, as well as the salaries of other teachers out of his own pocket as long as the school existed,” according to Hoskins.
Another school was authorized by Lynn County Commissioners later in 1924, a wooden structure built at New Moore, across from the Frank Rogers home, which was the old Singleton Ranch headquarters. Both the Slash L School and the New Moore School operated until they were consolidated in 1928.
In the fall of 1928, another school was started one mile north of New Moore. In 1929, the modern four-room brick building was opened and the two other schools were closed and consolidated into the new larger school. Unfortunately this was also the first year of the depression so families began to move to towns to seek employment. The population continued to dwindle in subsequent years. The New Moore School closed in 1953. The last business to close in New Moore was the cotton gin, which ginned its last bale in 1986.
REFERENCES: “New Moore, Texas, A Collection of Memories and Accounts”, Tom Hoskins and Margaret McCullough; Texas Escapes online magazine.
Notwithstanding the few remaining trees planted by the early residents of Notrees, the name is apropos. In fact, you have to drive 23 miles to Odessa or 23 miles in the opposite direction to Kermit to see a tree. The late Frank X. Tolbert, columnist at the Dallas Morning News, once reported on local lore that the town was named by “visiting drunk in the cafe…who said “Look at all those baldies out there. Not a single tree. This is Notrees.”.”
Located 22 miles northwest of Odessa, Texas, on State Highway 302 in western Ector County. The community developed after the discovery of oil in TXL Field on December 1944. The community was known at various times as Caprock, TXL, and Strawberry before Charles E. Brown, a local merchant, petitioned for a post office and selected the descriptive name of Notrees. Reportedly, the town had one native tree before it was destroyed in the construction of a gasoline plant by Shell Oil Company. The post office opened in December 1946 and Brown served as the first postmaster. At that time the town consisted of two cafes, one gas station, two welding shops, Brown’s grocery store, three company houses, and 85 people. The area thrived as new horizons were added to TXL Field in the 1950s and Notrees continued to serve the oil industry as those horizons were developed in the 1960s and 1970s. Population remained at 85 until 1966 when 338 residents were reported. Over the years, Notrees was the site for ten oil company camps, a grade school, and a recreation hall. The number of businesses fluctuated from seven in the late 1950s to one in the mid-1980s. By the 1980s oil companies abandoned company camps that had provided housing for employees and their families. With improved roads and good transportation, workers were able to live in Odessa and drive to work in Notrees. In 1998 Notrees had many trees, but was still closely tied to oil production. At that time it reported a population of 338, served by four businesses and its post office.
REFERENCES: William R. Hunt, “NOTREES, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hln31). Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Carlsbad, TX has often been called Sanatorium due to its proximity to a tuberculosis sanatorium built on nearby land in 1911. No doubt the fine citizens of Carlsbad much preferred the name they chose. The cafe and the associated motor court pictured above were probably part of the town of Carlsbad although it’d difficult to discern the town limits.
Carlsbad began in 1907 when T. J. Clegg, Ed Perry, and others organized the Concho Land Company and purchased the 60,000-acre Hughes Ranch. They divided the land into lots, laid out a townsite, built a hotel, named the town Hughes, and advertised free land to anyone who purchased a farm tract. Within two years the land company had attracted a population of 600. Growth was stimulated after the drilling of a deep well revealed medicinal properties in the local water; a bathhouse and efforts to advertise the town as a health resort resulted. The community was required to choose a new name for a post office in 1908. Residents selected Karlsbad, after a spa in Bohemia. The Hughes Headlight, first published in 1908, was renamed the Carlsbad Headlight. Around 1910 the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railway established a spur to Carlsbad, but a three-year drought decimated the community and most residents moved away. By 1914 the settlement was reduced to 200 residents and a general store. The population declined to 150 by 1925, then rose to 400 by 1932, when the community had eleven businesses. The local school had four teachers in 1931 and an enrollment of eighty-four in 1933. The Great Depression reduced the population to 150 by 1934, but growth resumed, and by 1944 the population reached a high of 700. State highway maps in 1936 showed three churches, a post office, two stores, and scattered dwellings at the townsite on the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe tracks, near a mining operation. After World War II the Carlsbad freight station served a local pipe line and cattle shippers; the McKnight State Sanatorium was established in 1950 on acreage to the north donated by the land company.
In 1911 both houses passed a bill creating two colonies-one for advanced and one for early cases-dedicated to the treatment and education of people infected with TB. Although plans for the former were abandoned, 330 acres was purchased near Carlsbad for the location of the Anti-Tuberculosis Colony No. 1. The first institution of its kind in Texas, the colony provided the
isolation to calm the fears of the public, as well as rest and clean air, the only known cure for TB sufferers. Admission was restricted to patients between the ages of six and sixty for a period not to exceed six months. The fifty-seven-bed facility opened with a barbecue and celebration on July 4, 1912. Bascom Lynn, who commuted from San Angelo, was the first superintendent. In 1913 the facility was renamed the State Tuberculosis Sanatorium, and on January 1, 1914, Governor Oscar B. Colquitt appointed Joseph B. McKnight resident superintendent. Under McKnight’s leadership the sanatorium expanded for the next thirty-five years.
REFERENCES: Alice Gray Upchurch, “CARLSBAD, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlc10), accessed May 20, 2012; John C. Henderson, “SANATORIUM, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hls16), accessed May 20, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
It has been reported that Talpa was founded as early as 1883 and in 1886 when the Santa Fe Railroad came to this section of the county, however, not all right of ways for the laying of tracks were obtained until 1890-1891. The Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway Company bought some land from W. P. Cusenbary and his two brothers, D. B. and E. T., on February 17, 1886. (The Cusenbarys had purchased several sections of land in this area, making one of their first transactions in 1883). W. J. Sayre came to Talpa as a telegrapher and agent for the railway company. The railroad first built a section house one mile east of Talpa, with the depot being erected and completed in 1891-1892, in the town site. Talpa was started as a switch-place on the railroad.
Just who named Talpa or decided on the name is not known, but there have been a number of conflicting stories as to its origin. Some say it was named for the catalpa tree and others from a rock, possibly talpatate, a rock of superficial origin resembling caliche. Talpa was known as a two county town, since it is located in Coleman County on the west boundary, just over the line of Runnels. For many years, it served not only Talpa residents, but the farmers and ranchers of both Coleman and Runnels Counties. Cotton, grain, sheep, goats, hogs, horses, mules, poultry, wool, mohair, all kinds of supplies and groceries were shipped in or out by the railroad.
Judging from the following account of Vena Bob LeSueur Gates, in “The History of Coleman County and Its People”, Talpa was a prosperous town in the early 1900s.
In 1903-1904, E. M. Jones of Coleman bought several lots and opened one of the first Dry Goods Stores in 1904. It also served as a bank until Sidney Turner and Ed A. Hattan came from East Texas in August, 1905. Turner and Hattan, along with W. T. Laughlin and W. P. Cusenbary paid $100.00 for land to erect the First State Bank of Talpa. On the cornerstone at the bank building reads: W. T. Laughlin, President; W. P. Cusenbary and Sidney Turner, Vice Presidents; E. A. Hatton (Hattan), Cashier. J. B. Dumas, Builder, September, 1905. The first hotel, built in 1900, was a frame building located on Main Street. I. D. Dunn had the first tailor shop in 1902. Fred Boyer, one of the first druggists and pharmacists, was followed by John Clay and J. Ben Harris. S. P. (Perry) Hale also had a drug store. In later years, Bill and Lillian Turk opened the drug store after Mr. Harris sold out. Persy Hale and Eric Tate put in a picture show called the Gem. John Trammell had a livery stable. The “Rock” hotel, south of the railroad, was run by William Ledford. One of the first doctors who resided and practiced in Talpa and its boundaries was J. L. Jones, who came in December, 1903. He and his family first lived in a two room house that later became the Methodist parsonage. 1913 was one of Dr. Jones’ “big baby boom” years.
Mrs. E. M. Jones organized the first Study Club, called the Talpa Reading Club in 1905, followed by the Talpa Shakespeare Club in 1906. Ed P. Eason was Editor and Proprietor of the Talpa Tribune Newspaper, beginning in 1905. W. A. Forman had a Mercantile Store; Phillips and Son had an ice house; Ira Phillips ran a confectionery, later Stanley Wood; R. L. McElrath did tin work, plumbing, etc.; W. J. Sayre and Will Musray sold real estate and insurance; W. M. Kidd had a Dry Goods and Mercantile store, later W. E. Bush. Brown and Meeks ran a grocery store; M. M. Slaten sold coal arid owned a gin; N. A. Perry of Brownwood also opened gin property in Talpa, probably the one southeast of the depot on the south side of the tracks and later owned by Floyd Hollinger; Hatton and Turner were in real estate; Dunn and Stigler were barbers; H. A. Montgomery owned the Talpa Hotel (Rates: $1.25 per day, meals, 25 cents; Regular Boarders $16.00 per month).
REFERENCES: Beatrice Grady Gay, “TALPA, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlt03), accessed April 10, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; “Talpa, Texas,” Texas Escapes (http://www.texasescapes.com/TOWNS/Talpa/Talpa_Texas.htm), accessed April 10, 2012; Vena Bob LeSueur Gates, “The History of Coleman County and Its People”, 1985
When it was built in 1927, what was then called Hotel Colorado was the pride of Colorado City and emblematic of the economic boom of the time. The 85-room hotel was constructed using the latest technology of the times including a structural concrete frame, fireproof materials, and “…high-speed elevators, steam heat, fans, and other conveniences” according to an article in the Dallas Morning News. The building, designed by Dallas architects Young & Young and constructed by Churchill-Humphres Company, cost over $400,000. An 800-seat theater, space for five stores adjoining the lobby, and 40-car parking garage completed the overall development. At the same time, Colorado City built a $160,000 high school building “…to care for the large scholastic increase” and an 86-acre country club with golf courses and clubhouse. The Colorado City Chamber of Commerce declared, “All of this development has paved the way for a year of real accomplishment that will securely place Colorado City among the foremost and strategic cities of West Texas”.
Originating as a ranger camp in 1877, Colorado City (then only Colorado) was called the “Mother City of West Texas”. The Texas and Pacific Railway built a station in Colorado City in the early 1880s, which became a cattle-shipping center for ranchers as far away as Amarillo, San Angelo, and eastern New Mexico. Great herds were held until rail cars were available. After shipment, cowboys were free to enjoy the town’s amenities. Between 1881 and 1884 its five saloons multiplied to twenty-eight, and other businesses showed the same growth. The boom slowed after the 1885-86 drought and the population dropped from 6,000 in 1880 to 2,500 in 1890.
A second boom period started in 1900 following the influx of farmers followed by the development of local oil and gas resources in the 1920s. Construction of the Col-Tex Refinery in 1924 gave an additional boost to the economy of Colorado City resulting a population of nearly 4,800 in 1930 served by 200 business. Population peaked in 1955 at 6,774 forcing the need to build a new municipal water source – the Champion Creek Reservoir. After the Col-Tex Refinery closed in 1969, Colorado City found other industries to support the community. Population has remained fairly stable through the 1990s and 2000s. Citizens of Colorado City have embraced a local Main Street revitalization program to preserve the remaining stock of commercial architecture from its heyday.
REFERENCES: William R. Hunt, “COLORADO CITY, TX (MITCHELL COUNTY),” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hfc13), accessed March 14, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; “Banner Program is Outlined by Colorado Chamber…”, The Abilene Morning News, February 1, 1927, Page 4.
I was first attracted to this “town” because its name is the same as the last name of my four cousins in Florida. So you can imagine my disappointment when I arrived and this building was the only thing left. Not that there’s anything wrong with this old roadside bar. Given Girvin’s history (below), there were no doubt countless birthdays, divorces, hirings, firings, and well-drilling successes celebrated there. Maybe it’s fitting that the last building standing is the Girvin Saloon.
A community began there in the 1890s, when stock raisers moved into the region. The town was eventually named for John H. Girvin, a local rancher. In 1912 the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railwaycompleted track construction from Mertzon to Girvin after crossing the Pecos River. A post office was established at Girvin on January 31, 1913. The original townsite was located on both sides of the tracks, near the rail station. Soon the town also had a store, a hotel, a saloon, and a lumberyard, and stock pens were built near the tracks. The first school was a small wooden building, but by the late 1920s or early 1930s the Girvin Independent School District had built a brick schoolhouse. This, however, proved to be too small, and during the 1930–31 school year one class had to meet in a nearby lumberyard. In 1924 Girvin had an estimated population of fifteen. When oil production began in the nearby Yates and Trans-Pecos oilfields in the late 1920s, Girvin became a delivery point for equipment and supplies. The oilfields also needed electrical power, so Girvin received electricity in 1929 after the construction of the Rio Pecos Power Plant across the Pecos River. A salt works was built a mile west of town in 1931. In 1933 a new highway from Fort Stockton to McCamey bypassed the original townsite, and Girvin immediately began to decline. The community reported five businesses and a population of seventy-five in 1939. In 1944 the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railway, which by then owned the track through Girvin, razed the section of the Girvin depot used for freight; the passenger station was closed in 1955. By 1963 the estimated population of Girvin had declined to thirty, with only two businesses reported, and by 1967 the original townsite was abandoned. During the 1980s only a few residents and a number of abandoned buildings, including a two-story concrete filling station and garage, remained at the old location.
REFERENCES: Glenn Justice, “GIRVIN, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook /online/articles/hng07). Published by the Texas State Historical Association; Texas Escapes
Eola is a tiny farming community in Concho County about ten miles east of San Angelo at the intersection of FM 381 & 765. The former Eola school (pictured above) consists of two buildings built in different decades. The older of the two is the white, one-story masonry building on the right. The buff-brick and stone building on the left was built in the 1930s as part of the Works Progress Administration and includes the gymnasium under barrel-vault roof. The buildings of commercial area (below right) in Eola are typical of of the early twentieth century – wood-framed, false fronts in front of gable roofs, shed roof covering the sidewalk, punched-openings for doors and windows with simple wood trim.
In the middle to late 1890s public school lands in the county were put up for sale at fifty cents an acre. Spurred on by railroad promotion, a land boom resulted in the area of Lipan Flat, a section that stretched east from San Angelo to the Colorado River. Eola was one of the communities created during this boom, which included many immigrants from central and eastern Europe. Originally known as Jordan, the name was changed to Eola in 1902, reportedly after a small local creek named for Aeolus, Greek god of the winds. In 1920 more than 100 people in the vicinity of Eola were reported to be of Czech descent. The first family to settle in the area was that of Asher L. and Lizzie Leona (Hollman) Lollar, who established themselves at a site 3½ miles southeast of Eola in 1898. By 1902, when the first local store was built, the community numbered four families. Within the next two years a Baptist church was erected. The first school was conducted in a church on the Will Stephenson ranch. A two-story, two-room schoolhouse was built in 1906. In 1908 the community had a windmill and an Odd Fellows lodge.
By 1914 Eola had a drugstore, a general store, and a population of twenty-five. Its population rose from thirty-five in 1925 to 240 by 1931. By 1940 the community had a population of 250, five churches, three general stores, three filling stations, two gins, a drugstore, a barbershop, a beauty shop, a laundry, a shoe shop, and a wholesale oil concern. A nine-teacher school taught elementary and high school classes. By 1955, after consolidation, the Eola school district was one of four remaining in Concho County. In 1963 Eola had the school, one industrial concern, five other businesses, and five churches.
REFERENCES: Mary M. Standifer, “EOLA, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hle24). Published by the Texas State Historical Association; Texas Escapes (http://www.texasescapes.com/TexasTowns/Eola-Texas.htm).
It’s not the Barstow made famous in the song Route 66. Nonetheless, it made its mark on the history of West Texas. Barstow is located in southwest Ward County about five miles east of Pecos on U.S. Highway 80.
The town was named for George E. Barstow, a Rhode Island land promoter who established it. Barstow, the man, was of the world’s leading experts on irrigation. He became interested in the Pecos valley in Texas after the state legislature passed an act in March 1889 to encourage the development of irrigation in West Texas. The Pioneer Canal Company, with Barstow as treasurer, was chartered on July 6, 1889. On September 30, 1889, Pioneer took over the Ward County Irrigation Company. Barstow served as president of at least one of the Pioneer Canal Company’s later incarnations, the Pecos Valley Land and Irrigation Company. An ad for the latter company, with a picture of Barstow as president, appeared in a 1909 issue of Cosmopolitan.
In 1891 Barstow joined other land developers in a project to promote a town on the Texas and Pacific Railway in western Ward County. The townsite, laid out in 1891, was deeded by Mr. and Mrs. B. K. Brant and O. F. Brant to the Barstow Improvement Company in 1892. Disagreement surfaced early over a name for the town, but by 1895 the community had taken the name of Barstow. Barstow himself moved to Barstow in 1904 from New York City. A post office established shortly after the town was organized. That same year George E. Barstow formed the Barstow Improvement Company to promote the sale of land irrigated by the Pecos River. He constructed irrigation canals and a dam and brought trainloads of prospective settlers to the town in land promotions. The farms around Barstow grew grapes, peaches, pears, and melons. In 1904 the Barstow Irrigation Company won a silver medal for grapes at the World’s Fair. The same year an earthen dam on the rain-swollen Pecos River burst, and the resulting flood waters raised soil salinity levels, thus ruining many of the farms. In 1907 and 1910 serious droughts plagued Barstow farmers. Vineyards and orchards began to decline in 1911, and by 1918 farming ceased.
Barstow became the county seat when Ward County was organized in 1892. A red sandstone courthouse was constructed in 1893. By 1900 Barstow had a population of 1,103. In 1914 the community had three churches, a bank, a hotel, an opera house, and a weekly newspaper, the West Texas Journal. Two years later a power plant was built to generate electricity. The population fell from 1,219 in 1910 to an estimated 490 in 1925. In June 1938, after the discovery of oil in Winkler County and eastern Ward County, Monahans replaced Barstow as the county seat of Ward County. Unfortunately, the beautiful sandstone courthouse was razed in the 1950s. An old photo of the courthouse can be seen at TexasEscapes.com (link below).
REFERENCES: Glenn Justice, “BARSTOW, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online; Claudia Hazlewood, “BARSTOW, GEORGE EAMES,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlb10). Published by the Texas State Historical Association; Texas Escapes, (http://www.texasescapes.com/WestTexasTowns/BarstowTexas/BarstowTexas.htm#today).
When I took this photograph in June 2010, there was loud music coming from the left side of the building leading me to believe that if they were drinking 7-Up (as advertised on the side of the building) they were mixing it with something stronger. This was confirmed when the door opened and a rough-looking guy yelled in my direction, “Hey, ya wanna drink?”. I declined politely and headed down the road to Marfa.
Valentine, the smaller of Jeff Davis County’s two towns, is on U.S. Highway 90 and the Southern Pacific Railroad in the southwestern part of the county, thirty-six miles west of Fort Davis. It was founded and named when the Southern Pacific Railroad crew, building east, reached the site on February 14, 1882. Trains began running the next year, and a post office was established in 1886. In 1890 Valentine had a population estimated at 100, two saloons, a general store, a hotel, and a meat market. Two years later only one saloon was left, but the population had risen to an estimated 140. Valentine became a shipping point for local cattle ranchers, and by 1914 the town had an estimated population of 500, five cattle breeders, a news company, a real estate office, a grocery store, a restaurant (pictured above), and the Valentine Business Club. In the late 1970s the town had an estimated population of 226, a high school, an elementary school, and two churches.
Apropos of its name, the Valentine Post Office involves the entire town in designing its annual postmark. Drawn by students at the Valentine school, the winner is selected by the City Council. Once approved by the Postal Service in San Antonio, the design is used for that year. Romantics from around the world send cards and letters to be postmarked by the Valentine Post Office every year.
REFERENCES: 1) Martin Donell Kohout, “VALENTINE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlv01). Published by the Texas State Historical Association. 2) Texas Escapes – http://www.texasescapes.com/TOWNS/ValentineTexas/ValentineTexas.htm
Despite its name, an Indian word meaning “flowing water”, Toyah looked pretty arid when I visited. Perhaps nearby artesian wells or water flowing in Billingslea Draw inspired the name. Toyah is the oldest townsite in Reeves County, founded as a trading post for the large ranches in that area. In the early 1880s, before the railroad reached Reeves County, W. T. Youngblood and his family moved to the area in a covered wagon with a stock of general merchandise. Youngblood began his business by visiting each ranch as a peddler. At the time he was also building a one-room store of adobe.
In 1881 the first train arrived in Toyah, and that year a post office was established. By October 20, 1881, Toyah was described as a town of tents, saloons, and restaurants. At the end of the year the Overland Transportation Company announced stagecoach service from Toyah to Fort Stockton and Fort Davis-six times each way weekly. By 1886 the community also included the A. M. Fields Hotel. The first public school in Toyah was established in 1894 with one teacher and five grades in a one-room building. By the 1899–1900 term the school had forty-two students and two teachers; the next year the student population increased to fifty-five, though there was only one teacher.
The abandoned school building pictured above was built in 1912 and served as both elementary and high school until the late 1940s, when it was replaced. According to former students, the second floor was removed in the 1960s and the building used as the school’s gym. Although there aren’t any newer school buildings nearby. The Toyah school district was later consolidated with the Pecos school district.
Two famous people were forced to stop in Toyah in the late 1920s or early 1930s, although they were not there at the same time. World-renowned pianist Ignacy Paderewski and his family were traveling by rail when their train was forced to stop in Toyah while debris from a winter storm was cleared from the tracks ahead. To their good fortune, their railroad car stopped across the street from the stationmaster’s house. The stationmaster’s wife took the Paderewski’s servings of her English Plum Pudding. Thus began a lifelong friendship between the two couples. In September, 1928, Amelia Earhart was forced to land her plane near Toyah when it developed engine trouble during a cross-country flight.
Toyah reported a population of 771 in 1910, and the town became a major cattle-shipping point on the railroad. By 1914 the population of Toyah had increased to 1,062, and it remained above 1,000 until the Great Depression hit in 1929. In 1931 Toyah reported a population of 553, with seventeen businesses, including a bank. At one time or another in its history, Toyah had four churches, four stores, two banks, two hotels, two lumberyards, and a drugstore. Toyah was incorporated in 1933, and the number of businesses rose to twenty.
REFERENCES: 1) Julia Cauble Smith, “TOYAH, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlt27). Published by the Texas State Historical Association. 2) Texas Escapes – http://www.texasescapes.com/TOWNS/Toyah_Texas/Toyah_Texas.htm
Grandfalls is at the intersection of State highways 11, 18, and 329, on the Pecos River in southeastern Ward County. It was named for its location on the upper, or grand, falls of the river. The area near the falls was an early campsite for travelers. The first settlers came in the late 1880s, attracted by the steady supply of water in the river and by the natural beauty of the countryside. Among them were the families of two brothers-in-law, R. I. Carr and J. T. Sweatt. These farmers built a brush dam above the lower, or great, falls near the site of the present State Highway 18 bridge and powered their cotton gin by the falls. On July 12, 1892, the Grandfalls school district was established, and a school building was constructed on the Carr farm. Mamie McFadden taught in the 1892–93 term. The building was also used for a union church consisting of seven denominations.
In 1894 a flood demolished the raceway that powered the cotton gin, formed a new river channel, and destroyed the dam at the lower falls. Some farmers left after the flood, but the Carr and Sweatt families rebuilt the brush dam and constructed new canals to extend irrigation. A post office was opened in 1897 with James G. Baker as postmaster. In the late 1890s a land-development company laid out the town, and the Texas and Pacific Railway advertised land for settlement. Hardware, feed, and lumber stores were built. A dry-goods and grocery store, a hotel, and a blacksmith shop also opened. In the 1890s a number of Scandinavian families moved to the community and established St. Gertrudis Catholic Church. One of them, Dr. Charlotte Bergman, founded a medical practice. Although women physicians were rare in West Texas in 1897, she was well received and was successful in fighting tuberculosis in the area.
After 1900 Grandfalls had a steady supply of drinking water, the First Baptist Church was organized, a new school building was built, and the community received telephone service. During the 1906–07 school term the town reported one school, 105 students, and two teachers. A bank was chartered in 1906. By 1914 it had merged with a Pecos bank. A severe drought hit the Pecos valley in 1916, and many settlers left Grandfalls. In 1925 the town had a population of 250. In 1928 oil was discovered in Shipley field, near Royalty, three miles north of Grandfalls. The boom increased the population of Grandfalls to 500 by 1929. During the boom the school in Grandfalls changed its name to Grandfalls-Royalty. By 1939 Grandfalls had a population of 600 and twenty businesses. The town incorporated in 1940. Throughout the 1940s it had a population of 653 and twenty businesses. The population was around 1,000 during the 1950s and 1960s. The number of businesses increased to seventy-two by 1961 but fell to twenty-five by 1970. During the 1970s and 1980s the population wavered between 557 and 981, and the number of businesses between seven and twenty-five. In 1990 Grandfalls was a small incorporated community; it had a post office, sixty-three businesses, and a population of 583.
REFERENCE: Julia Cauble Smith, “GRANDFALLS, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlg32). Published by the Texas State Historical Association.