In what is a rarity among Texas counties, the county seat of Lipscomb County (Lipscomb, TX) is the smallest town in the county, is off the main highways, and lacks rail facilities. The stately Classical Revival courthouse, designed and constructed in 1916 by William M. Rice, still stands in its original courthouse square surrounded by a lawn full of trees. It is still the hub for county government in the northeast corner of the Panhandle. Interestingly, the actual northeast corner of the Panhandle border between Texas and Oklahoma, established by law in 1850, remained in dispute for 79 years and was finally settled by the US Supreme Court. Nine surveys were made to locate the corner on the ground and none of them coincided – much to the consternation of landowners in the area. Three blocks were annexed into Texas from Oklahoma in 1903 and again in 1929, prompting a man to claim he went to bed in Oklahoma and woke up in Texas.
Originally its site in Wolf Creek Valley was deemed a cattleman’s paradise. In 1886 J. W. Arthur, anticipating the arrival of the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railway, established a combination store and post office at the site. Arthur named his townsite Lipscomb, after pioneer judge Abner Smith Lipscomb. Frank Biggers, the county’s leading developer, organized the Lipscomb Town Company, which sold land for $3.00 an acre. The next year, Lipscomb was elected county seat after a heated contest with the rival townsites of Dominion and Timms City. John Howlett operated a general store; John N. Theisen took over the Gilbert Hotel after its move from Dominion; H. G. Thayer managed a saddle and harness shop. A school district was established for the community in 1888. The first school, located in a church, had 25 pupils. Liquor flowed freely at the Alamo Saloon until 1908, when the county voted to go dry.
As it turned out, the railroad routed its tracks south of the townsite. Subsequent attempts to get a railroad line to Lipscomb were unsuccessful, as was the attempt of local businessmen to develop a coal mine in 1888, after a five-inch vein was discovered in the area. The present courthouse was built in 1916. The community’s position as the county seat, coupled with the success of W. E. Merydith’s real estate ventures, has enabled the town to survive. By 1910 several churches, a bank, a drugstore, and various other businesses had been established there. Lipscomb has had two newspapers, the Panhandle Interstate and the Lipscomb County Limelight. Only two businesses and the post office remained at the community by 1980. Nevertheless, the importance of the town as a farming and ranching center, along with oil and gas explorations in the vicinity, kept Lipscomb’s economy alive. For most of the twentieth century, its population level has remained fairly stable: population was reported as 200 in 1910, 175 in 1930, 200 in 1940, and 190 in 1980.
Lipscomb is on State Highway 305 in the central part of the county.
1. A History of Lipscomb County, Texas, 1876–1976 (Lipscomb, Texas: Lipscomb County Historical Survey Committee, 1976). F. Stanley [Stanley F. L. Crocchiola], The Lipscomb, Texas, Story(Nazareth, Texas, 1975).
2. H. Allen Anderson, “LIPSCOMB, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hll48), accessed May 15, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Archer City is twenty-five miles southwest of Wichita Falls in the center of Archer County, of which it is the seat. It was named for Branch Tanner Archer, a leading figure in the Texas Revolution and Republic of Texas. The county was established and Archer City designated county seat by the state legislature in 1858, but the county was not organized until after the removal of the Kiowas and Comanches from the area. The townsite was originally surveyed in 1876 and was intended to lie on the projected paths of three railroad lines—the Fort Worth and Denver, the Houston and Texas Central, and the Red River and Rio Grande. A local post office opened in 1878, and in about 1879 C. B. Hutto settled nearby and platted the town; he donated land for a town square, a lot for a county jail, and lots for the construction of Protestant churches. He also donated a “frameless wooden building” to be used as a county courthouse.
Archer County’s first church, the First Baptist Church, was organized in the town in 1880 with eight members meeting in a building intended as a saloon. The town soon after voted to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages, so the building continued to serve as a church; from 1881 to 1886 it was the first school building. In 1884 the estimated population of Archer City was 150, and the principal business was county administration. Cotton was the most important shipped product, although the railroad had not arrived yet.
By 1890 the population was an estimated 250, and a weekly newspaper was being published. The town now had daily mail and a daily stage to Wichita Falls. In 1892 the post office name, Archer, was changed to match the town’s name. An ornate stone courthouse had been built, two more churches had been organized, and a brickyard and a hotel had opened. By 1900 the town had a bank and three livestock dealers, although cotton remained the staple of outside trade. The first oil well in the county, twelve miles from town, began producing in March 1912. Although it never produced great amounts it continued in operation at least into the late 1970s. By 1914 Archer City had two railroads, the Wichita Falls and Southern and the Southwestern, and the population was estimated at 825. Archer City was incorporated in 1925 and continued to grow as more oil wells were opened nearby. By late 1926 there were seventeen fields with 411 wells within thirteen miles of Archer City. The largest field by far was Oldham, with 103 wells. Archer City was also a milling and market point for wheat and other grains and had about seventy businesses, including three banks.
By 1930 the town’s population was 1,512, and the county hospital had been built there. The county’s fiftieth-anniversary celebration had been held in Archer City the year before, a year early in honor of the opening of the county’s first highway, State Highway 79. By the 1930s researchers from Harvard University were collecting fossils in Archer County. Two of the best fossil pits are near Archer City, and from one of these came a fossil that was named Archeria in honor of the county. Archer City continued growing slowly despite the loss of some businesses during World War II. The population peaked at 2,025 in 1970; the number of businesses had begun falling off in the 1960s. In Larry McMurtry’s novel The Last Picture Show (1966), which derives its setting from Archer City, the closing of the Royal Theater is a major symbol. McMurtry is a native of Archer County. In 1986 the town had a post office, forty-nine businesses including a bank, and a population of 1,862. By 2000 the population was 1,848 with eighty-six businesses.
REFERENCES: Monte Lewis, “ARCHER CITY, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hja11), accessed July 21, 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..
Murdock McDonald, born in North Carolina, had come to East Texas from Georgia in the 1830s. Jackson Jones (Jack) Davis was born in South Carolina and came to Texas with his wife Elizabeth around 1845. Both men bought property northeast of what is now Palestine and settled with their families. When the International Railroad announced in 1871 that it would build a railroad through East Texas to Palestine, McDonald and Davis were determined that the railroad be located close to their property. After tough negotiations, the two men donated parts of their properties to the railroad on the condition that that the railway be built by December, 1873. While the railroad was being built McDonald and Davis began laying out a townsite.
On December 23, 1872, a post office with the name Nechesville was opened (the community changed its name to Neches in 1892). The McDonald Hotel was built in 1873 and by 1884 the community had a Masonic Lodge, two steam sawmills, a gristmill, two churches, a general store, a drug store (established by T.R. Dunn), two saloons (one of which owned by Murdock McDonald), a school, and an estimated population of 100. The two-story structure in the photo above was the W. J. Foscue General Merchandise building erected in 1890. The ground floor of this building later became the home of Guaranty State Bank with the second floor home to a variety of businesses. When it was established in 1897, J. B. McDonald & Son, located in the middle of the three attached buildings, claimed to carry everything one could need “From the Cradle to the Grave.” Murdoch McDonald also acted as justice of the peace, advertised as a supplier of “meats and justice.” In 1896 a monthly newspaper, the Southern Poultry Journal, was published in the town. Another newspaper, the Neches Tribune, was published in the community before the 1930s. Neches had 261 inhabitants in 1900 and an estimated 400 in the 1920s and 1930s. It was a prosperous community with twenty-four businesses and an estimated 900 inhabitants in 1939. It began to decline in the 1940s.
Throughout its history, Neches was a shipping point for the timber mills and produce-growers in the area. In the 1920s, the East Texas oil boom, particularly the nearby Boggy Creek Woodbine and Neches Woodbine fields, resulted in prosperity for Neches and nearby towns.
Education was a priority for the citizens of Neches. The Stovall Academy had been built three miles south of Neches 1866 by the Rev. Mr. Stovall. It was later disassembled and moved to town and renamed Neches Normal Institute operating as a private school. New school buildings were erected in 1882 and 1913 to serve local students. In 1928 the Neches school, along with schools in Mt. Vernon, Hollywood, and Coperas Grove (now Todd City) consolidated into one school located in Neches.
Neches is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 79 and Farm roads 321 and 2574, on the Union Pacific Railroad nine miles northeast of Palestine and four miles from the Neches River in eastern Anderson County.
Mark Odintz, “NECHES, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hln03), accessed April 07, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Author & date Unknown, http://www.inetwork-plus.com/palestine/neches_tx_history.htm
Author & date Unknown, J.B. McDonald & Son website, http://www.jbmcdonaldandson.com
When I first learned about the school building in Mosheim, there was speculation that it was soon to be torn down. That resulted a hastily-planned road trip to the area and a sigh of relief that the building was still standing. The old school building was probably not the original school in Mosheim, but was likely built in the 1910s or 1920s. Exterior walls were constructed of structural clay tile and brick, then covered with stucco. Floors, walls, and roofs were framed with dimensional lumber. The building’s mission-style design is unique for a country school of that period. It appears that each of the side wings of the building held three classrooms. The center two-story section of the building contained classrooms on both floors. Given the small population of Mosheim, the school undoubtedly served students from nearby farms in addition to those from the town.
Mosheim, formerly Live Oak, is at the junction of Farm roads 217 and 215, 7½ miles west of Valley Mills and twenty-three miles northwest of Waco in southwestern Bosque County. The first settler in the area was probably Jonathan Dansby, who arrived in the mid-1850s from Alabama. Dansby was a Private in the 31st Regiment, Texas Cavalry during the Civil War. In 1855, he married Sarah Ann Farris, who had migrated with her family from Illinois. Jeff Howard built the first store in 1886 and established a post office in it the next year; at this time the town received the name Mosheim from the United States postal authorities.
Bosque County, located in North Central Texas, is farming and ranching country. The county was largely settled by Norwegian immigrants during the 1850s, encouraged by the state of Texas’ offer of 320 acres to each family. Many descendants of these Norwegian settlers still live in the county today. By 1896 Mosheim had an estimated population of fifty, a school, a Methodist church, and several businesses. The number of residents reached a peak of 200 until the late 1960s and then remained stable at seventy-five from the 1970s through 1990.
REFERENCES: Karen Yancy, “MOSHEIM, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnm64), accessed February 15, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association. Kristi Strickland, “BOSQUE COUNTY,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hcb10), accessed February 15, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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.
Blessing is west of the junction of State Highway 35 and Farm Road 616 and twenty miles west of Bay City in northwestern Matagorda County. The town was promoted by Jonathan Edwards Pierce, on whose land it was established. In 1903, when Pierce gave the right-of-way to the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway, the future of the unnamed settlement seemed assured. A grateful Pierce hoped to designate the place “Thank God,” but the United States Postal Department rejected his proposal. As a compromise, the place was named Blessing, and a post office opened in 1903, with James H. Logan as first postmaster. Between 1903 and 1905 a library building was attached to the train station. In 1905 the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway also built through Blessing. D. A. Wheeler’s hotel soon followed.
On September 1, 1907, residents platted the townsite, and the townsite company made provisions for school and church sites. In 1909 P. Ansley established a local newspaper. B y 1914 Blessing had 500 inhabitants, two churches, a bank, a hotel, a telephone connection, and a weekly newspaper, the Blessing News. In 1925 Blessing’s population was still recorded at 500. In 1931 the town had a population of 450 and twenty-two businesses. During the 1937–38 school year, nine teachers instructed 251 white students in eleven grades, and two teachers instructed thirty-eight black students in seven grades. By 1949 the Blessing district had been consolidated with the Tidehaven Independent School District. In 1945 Blessing’s population had risen to 600, served by thirteen businesses. Though in 1966 the population was reported as 1,250; in 1968 it had dropped to 405. In 1990 the town had 571 residents and twelve businesses.
REFERENCE: Stephen L. Hardin, “BLESSING, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlb36), accessed December 10, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association
Willow City is on Willow Creek 11½ miles northeast of Fredericksburg in northeastern Gillespie County. The earliest recorded settler before the Civil War was a slaveholding Baptist preacher reported to harbor a strong dislike for the neighboring Germans. Sometime after the war a group of settlers-including ranchers Andrew Moore, Jim Renick, William Luckenbach, Bill Hardin, and Pierce Smith, storekeeper Gene Harrison, and miller Bill Ricks-came to Willow Creek and founded one of the few Gillespie County communities settled by English-speakers rather than Germans. These early settlers traded mostly in Austin because they preferred dealing with other Anglo-Americans rather than with the Germans in nearby Fredericksburg. The town prospered and gained an early reputation as a criminal hangout. The post office opened in 1877 and was named Willow until 1887, when it changed to Willow City. The town had two teachers as early as 1881; one was John Warren Hunter, who once had to wrestle a six-gun away from an angry student. In 1885 a Methodist congregation was organized, although a church was not built until 1900, under Rev. T. J. Lassater. From 1892 to 1894 Green Hardin Harrison published the Gillespie County News; later he sold the newspaper to Webster McGinnis, who moved it to Fredericksburg. Willow City received telephone service in 1893. In 1904 the population was estimated at 132, and by 1915 Willow City had three general stores, a drugstore, two blacksmiths, and a cotton gin. The population declined during the first half of the twentieth century, to 100 in 1925 and to forty in 1939.
The Willow City School District #804 was in the northeastern part of Gillespie County, with its northern border extending to the Llano County line. The first school was a one room log cabin, which also served as a church. R.C. Roberts, who came to the community in 1876, described the schoolhouse as “a one-room log cabin, no longer new”. It had split log benches and no floor. After severe flooding, a two-story frame schoolhouse was constructed in 1890 on higher ground. This building had two classrooms downstairs and one large classroom upstairs, with an outside stairway. A bell tower summoned the students to class. It was early in 1905, when the Willow City District became independent, that it was decided to build a new school. J.W. Lindeman and J. C. Hardin each donated a plot of ground, and after a bond issue, the new, two-story granite school building became a reality. It had school rooms on the first floor and one room on the second. The second floor served as an auditorium and classroom, during the years when there were three teachers. Improvements were made to the building in 1915, in order to obtain state aid. Ventilators were added. A partition was built on the first floor to create an entrance hallway, and blackboard space was added. The school had no water supply until 1920, when a well was drilled. Until that time, students brought their own water from home or a resident living close to school supplied water. In the 1950′s, restrooms were added to the north side of the building. With three teachers, one for each room, grades one to nine were taught through 1956. Then in 1957 with two teachers, grades one to eight were taught. The 9th graders went to Fredericksburg for high school. Willow City Independent School District was consolidated with Fredericksburg ISD in 1961.
REFERENCES: Martin Donell Kohout, “WILLOW CITY, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnw51), accessed January 23, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; The Friends of Gillespie County Schools.
When Luckenbach, Texas is mentioned, what comes to most peoples’ minds is Waylon Jennings’ song “Back to the Basics of Love” – with its famous lyrics “Let’s go to Luckenbach Texas, with Waylon, Willie and the boys…”. But long before the town was made famous in song and became a hangout for country music fans, Luckenbach was a community settled by German farmers – among them brothers Jacob Luckenbach and August Luckenbach.
The first post office opened in 1854 under the name of South Grape Creek. Mrs. Albert Luckenbach, nee Minnie Engel, established a store and saloon. A dance hall, a cotton gin, and a blacksmith shop were in existence by the late 1800s. A number of family cemeteries and a Catholic cemetery were also established. The growing population supported a primary school and a Methodist church. Residents in addition to Methodists included in roughly equal numbers Lutherans and Catholics. One local schoolmaster, Jacob F. Brodbeck, designed and tested an airplane in this community, but a major demonstration flight in 1865 terminated in a crash. Sometime in the later 1800s the post office closed. When it reopened in 1886, August Engel served as postmaster and renamed the town Luckenbach. William Engel became the next postmaster and opened the general store, which remains today in its original building. In 1896 the population was 150. It increased to a high of 492 in 1904 but declined dramatically in the first half of the twentieth century. From the 1920s to the 1950s Luckenbach had a population of twenty.
On July 22, 1855, two acres of land along Grape Creek was purchased from Peter Pehl for $4. After the land was acquired, the men in the community gathered to build a 16′X15′ log cabin schoolhouse. During the 1860′s, a one-room stone teacherage was built. The floors were made of 16″ wide planks from Indianola, and the rafters were hand-hewn. Another room was later added to join the teacher’s house to the school. Another room was later added to join the teacher’s house to the school. Due to an increase in the student population by 1881, the building became too small to accommodate all the children, so a 10′ addition of native limestone was built. The Luckenbach School was designated as District #3. Families who settled in the community paid one dollar per year for their children to attend school. Many of these families are still represented in the area today.
An old-fashioned school bell summoned the children to class, with the boys lining up on the left and the girls on the right. Older students would help the younger ones with grammar and math. Some of the creative games played during recess were Andy-over, stink base, dodge ball, drop the hankie, and kick the can. At 4:00 pm, at the end of the day, the older boys had to bring in firewood for the stove, and the girls had to sweep the floor. First graders were responsible for cleaning the erasers.
In 1949, due to the passage of the Gilmer-Aiken Law, which limited the number of students per teacher, Luckenbach became a two-teacher school, with grades one through eight. During that year, another room, measuring 18′X24′, and constructed of hollow tile, was added to the school building. In 1964, the Luckenbach School District was consolidated with the Fredericksburg School District.
REFERENCES: Glen E. Lich and Brandy Schnautz, “LUCKENBACH, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnl48), accessed January 21, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; The Friends of Gillespie County Schools;
Camp San Saba is on Farm Road 1955 and the San Saba River ten miles southeast of Brady in southeastern McCulloch County. The settlers, who in the early 1860s built the community known as Camp San Saba, were not the first to occupy the region. John O. Meusebach met with a council of Comanches in 1847 near the present townsite. A group of Texas Rangers under the command of Captain W. G. O’Brien was stationed in the area in the 1860s to protect settlers from Indian attacks. O’Brien’s Company of mounted volunteers became the Forty-sixth Texas Cavalry in the Confederate Army.
The community supposedly took its name from this ranger camp. Confederate troops protected the settlers during the Civil War. Camp San Saba was the principal settlement in McCulloch County until Brady became the county seat in 1876. A post office opened in Camp San Saba in 1876. In 1884 the community had three churches, a district school, three stores, and a population of 250. Area residents shipped wool and livestock. When the coming of the railroad increased Brady’s importance as a shipping point in 1904, Camp San Saba began a steady decline. The post office was discontinued after the 1930s.
Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, “CAMP SAN SABA, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hrc13), accessed December 10, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Markham is at the junction of Farm roads 1468 and 2431, six miles northwest of Bay City in northwestern Matagorda County. The settlement was first called Cortes and from 1901 to 1903 had its own post office under that name. Cortes, named for H. W. Cortes, president of the Moore-Cortes Canal Company, was on the New York, Texas and Mexican Railway between Markham and the Colorado River. In 1903 the Moore-Cortes Canal Company boosted community development. That same year residents altered the name of the town to Markham, after C. H. Markham, an engineer for the Southern Pacific lines.
The building pictured above appears to have been a bank during its prime. The corner entrance suggests that it was located on an important (probably the most important) corner of the town. Brickwork on the building is quite complex – forming quoins on the building corners, pilasters, capitals, and friezes. It’s a shame that vegetation has been allowed to engulf this little gem of a building.
The post office was established under the new name in 1903 and was still in operation in the early 1990s. By 1914 Markham had become a stop on the Texas and New Orleans Railroad and had a population of 500. In 1925 its population was estimated at 400. Markham in 1936 had numerous dwellings and two schools, two churches, a factory, and about ten other businesses, including a hotel run by A. A. Moore. By the 1930s Markham residents had established an independent school district. During the school year 1937–38, eight teachers instructed 278 white students through grade eleven, and two teachers instructed thirty-six black students through grade seven. The population of Markham was reported at 700 in 1943. By 1949 its schools had been consolidated with the Tidehaven Independent School District. Markham constructed a public school complex in 1952. In 1950 the community population had been reported as 300, and in 1965 it was 750, with seven businesses. In 1970 the population was 603, which remained the reported estimate through the 1980s.
REFERENCE: Stephen L. Hardin, “MARKHAM, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlm29), accessed December 11, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Maple, named for Maple Wilson, an early settler, is on Farm Road 596 in southern Bailey County. This is almost a “blink and you miss it town”, for not much exists there anymore. It was established after local ranches were subdivided for farms its post office opened in 1926. In 1940 Maple had six businesses, a school, and 600 residents.
Bailey County is a part of the Southern High Plains and has an altitude of 3,800 to 4,400 feet above mean sea level. The county was marked off from Bexar County in 1876 and named for Peter J. Bailey, an Alamo hero. Settlement of Bailey County did not come early, since the XIT Ranch held most of its land from 1882 until the division and sale of the ranch in 1901. Bailey County land fell within the Spring Lake, Yellow House, and Bovina divisions of the XIT.
A severe drought in 1910 drove away many of these early settlers, but others moved in to take their places, particularly after the Santa Fe Railroad extended its tracks through the county in 1913. Hoping to establish a taxing authority that could provide schools and roads for the area, residents decided to organize the county. They raised $1,500 to send delegates to Austin to lobby for a revision of the minimum county-voter requirement to seventy-five. Despite the opposition of ranchmen who feared that organization would bring taxation, the delegates succeeded.
During the 1920s and 1930s new conditions helped to transform the county’s economy from ranching to farming. Ground water was discovered at depths of twenty to forty feet, and large ranches were broken up and sold as farm tracts. While many of the new farmers grew wheat, corn, and forage crops, a rapid expansion of cotton farming was responsible for much of the development of the county during these years. It has been said that Bailey County “is one of the few areas in the United States that can produce varying crops such as cotton, wheat, corn, grain, sorghum, soybeans, castor beans, hay, peanuts, cabbage, lettuce, peas, and beans.” About 40 percent of agricultural receipts derive from livestock. Manufacturing income in 1980 was almost $2 million, from farm tools.
REFERENCE: “MAPLE, TX (BAILEY COUNTY),” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlm25), accessed December 11, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; and William R. Hunt and John Leffler, “BAILEY COUNTY,” Handbook of Texas Online, (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hcb01), accessed December 11, 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.
Panhandle, the county seat of Carson County, is on U.S. Highway 60 in the south central part of the county. It derives its name from its location in the Texas Panhandle and was initially named Carson City (for the county) and then later, Panhandle City. The community obtained a post office in 1887 and was platted in January 1888 as the terminus of the Southern Kansas (Panhandle and Santa Fe) Railway, on a site almost surrounded by several large cattle ranches. Over the next few months Panhandle acquired a school, a mercantile store, a bank, a wagonyard, and three saloons. In July 1887 Henry Harold Brookes began the Panhandle Herald (during the 1980s the region’s oldest extant newspaper). Edward E. Carhart assisted Brookes in printing the Herald and also served as postmaster, banker, and druggist. Many early settlers made extra money hauling bones of slaughtered buffalo to the railroad to be shipped east to fertilizer plants (see Bone Business). When Carson County was organized in 1888, Panhandle became the county seat, and a wooden frame courthouse was completed there. Subsequently, several law offices were opened at the community, and the colorful Temple L. Houston frequented Panhandle as an attorney for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Townsmen built an interdenominational community church building in 1892. A sanatorium and several doctors’ offices made Panhandle a haven for health seekers. The John Callaghan hotel hosted such distinguished guests as Buffalo Bill Cody and rancher Murdo Mackenzie. Frank N. Bishop managed the town’s ice and coal business and the grain elevators along the tracks. At times as many as 65,000 cattle were held in the loading pens awaiting railroad shipment. In 1897 the community was scandalized when the Methodist pastor, George E. Morrison, poisoned his wife because he was in love with another woman. This murder, which received widespread attention, resulted in Morrison’s trial and subsequent execution on the gallows in Vernon in 1899.
By 1900 Panhandle had a population of 300. In 1909 the town voted to incorporate with a mayor-council government. By then it had several grain elevators, three churches, two banks, telephone service, and a population of 600. The oil boom of the 1920s brought its population level to 2,035 by 1930, and Panhandle became the center of a natural gas field. During the 1920s and 1930s, Panhandle was home to the second largest shipping yard in the United States, second to Chicago. In 1924, Panhandle’s business leaders formed a committee to build a hotel intended to become “Panhandle’s Meeting Place” and indeed it did. Designed by Amarillo architect E.F. Rittenberry and financed by General Ernest O. Thompson, an acknowledged leader in petroleum conservation, Panhandle Inn served business travelers associated with the oil, gas, and cattle industries. Its unique pueblo revival-style architecture added to hotel’s prominence as a place to meet and do business during the oil boom. The 20,000 square foot hotel also housed businesses such as a drug store, cafe, and barbershop.
Also during the 1920s boom, bonds were voted to install a modern water and sewage system, pave the streets, and provide utilities for the rapidly growing populace. Consequently the onset of the Great Depression in 1932–33 almost caused the city to go bankrupt because of its inability to pay the interest on these bonds; though emergency measures were taken, not until 1965 did Panhandle entirely rid itself of its “Boom Bond” indebtedness. In 1934 the Southwest Race Meet and Agricultural Fair erected new buildings for the annual stock show in Panhandle. A new county courthouse was completed in 1950.
In the 1980s Panhandle continued to thrive as a regional marketing and shipping center for wheat, cattle, and petroleum products. Its population increased from 1,958 in 1960 to 2,226 in 1980. Panhandle also had six churches, a modern school system, and a children’s home and a home for the aged, both run by the Catholic Church. The Carson County Square House Museum, in Pioneer Park on State Highway 207, is considered one of the nation’s finest small museums. Centered on the 1887 Square House, a small wooden frame residence with a rooftop captain’s walk, the museum complex also features pioneer implements, a Santa Fe caboose, a half-dugout, and a memorial exhibition dedicated to man’s quest for freedom. The Square House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places
REFERENCE: H. Allen Anderson, “PANHANDLE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hjp03), accessed December 15, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Kosse is located southwestern Limestone County on State Highway 7 approximately eighteen miles east of Marlin. Settlers made homes by nearby Duck Creek in the mid-1840s and ran a stage stop for the Franklin-Springfield and Waco-Marlin stage routes. In 1869 Kosse became the end of the Houston and Texas Central Railway and was named for Theodore Kosse, a chief engineer for the railroad and the man who surveyed the road for the town. Businesses moved to Kosse from Eutaw, two miles west, and the Eutaw post office was moved to Kosse in 1870. Development of a town government began in 1871 and within ten years had reached a population of 500. Union, Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches were organized. The New Era, the first newspaper, was published before 1880. The Cyclone was begun in 1885 by James O. Jones. That year the town had several cotton gins, two sawmills, and three gristmills. John Dimelow, an Englishman, opened a ceramics lab in 1870. Kosse also had the first brickyard in the county.
Limestone County historically supported numerous pottery producing kilns. This industry succeeded near area outcroppings of kaolin, or potter’s clay, within the Wilcox geologic formation. Alberry Johnson began the first county pottery in 1859 near Dooley Creek. Like most other regional potteries, Johnson’s kiln was of the groundhog variety, a subterranean design with a doorway leading to a long underground passage lined with brick or rock. At the end of the corridor, a chimney rose out of the ground, drawing heat from a firebox outside the door which baked pottery within the passageway. William Curtis Knox later moved Johnson’s operation and established the town of Pottersville (later Oletha). The pottery was one of the largest in Texas, remaining active until 1912; today, Pottershop Cemetery marks the site. Several other kilns in the area provided work and income to supplement residents’ farming efforts. Near this site, German immigrant Lee Kimik built a kiln active in the 1870s and 1880s. Records indicated that the business remained in fulltime operation eight months of the year. The kiln, similar to other groundhog examples, had longer and deeper sidewalls, possibly indicating European design influences. Unlike other area potters who marketed their work collectively, Kimik sold his wares directly to the community of Headsville. He also marked his pottery, a rare feature among his Texas peers. In 1984, archeologists documented the Kimik Kiln site reviving the story of Lee Kimik through archival research and archeological investigation. The historic site has made significant contributions to understanding the industry and artistry of 19th-century Texas.
On October 1, 1884, an acre of land was granted for a public school. Kosse’s school became an independent school district with J. Thomas Hall as superintendent around 1892–93. In 1893 one school in Kosse had 225 students and six teachers, and another school had eighty black students. In 1914 Kosse had three businesses, two banks, and a population of 700. In 1921 the chamber of commerce was organized. By 1931 Kosse the population was over 1,500 and the town had fifty-eight businesses. After that the population and number of businesses slowly began to decline.
REFERENCE: Stephanie A. Panus, “KOSSE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlk14), accessed August 25, 2011. 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.
Much of the Texas Panhandle was once part of the vast XIT Ranch – created by the Texas Legislature in 1879 to finance construction of a new state capitol building. And like similar small towns in that part of the state, Pep was created after the XIT was subdivided and sold to investors. I think that this building is a service station, but it could have been a small car dealership. Design of the building – using Art Deco motifs – would more likely have been used for a car dealership, but I’m not sure that a small town like Pep could have supported one.
Pep is on Farm Road 303 near the Lamb county boundary in northwestern Hockley County. The site was part of the Yellow House Ranch of the XIT Ranch. It passed to the Littlefield estate and was then sold by the Yellow House Land Company in 1924. Much of this farmland was sold to Germans interested in establishing a Catholic colony, which they originally named Ledwig for Rev. Francis Ledwig, their pastor. Settlers at the community included John Andrews, John Stengel, and Pete Herring. J. G. Gerik opened a store there in 1925. The first Catholic church in the county was built at the community in 1930. A post office was established in 1936 with M. A. Burt as postmaster. Reportedly the name Ledwig did not suit the post office department, and Pep was chosen as the town’s new name, to reflect an admired characteristic of its residents. Since 1945 an annual community Thanksgiving dinner, including a savory Czech sausage, has drawn crowds of visitors to the small community. Its population was sixty in 1950 and by 1980 had declined to fifty, where it was still reported in 1990. By 2000 the population had dropped to thirty-five.
REFERENCE: William R. Hunt, “PEP, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnp18), accessed November 21, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
The elementary school building is all that remains of the small Panhandle community of Pringle that once served as a railroad supply point. Walls were constructed of brick and structural clay tile. The roof over the classrooms was wood-framed and the roof over the cafeteria/gym/auditorium was framed with steel trusses. All of these materials were typical of school construction in the late-1920s and into the 1930s, so the school was built to withstand the sometimes turbulent weather of the Panhandle. In the thirty-five years since the school closed, it has been abandoned and left to the destructive powers of weather and time.
Pringle is at the intersection of Farm Road 1598 and State Highway 136, on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad nine miles north of Stinnett in northern Hutchinson County. It began in 1929 when the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railroad built between Stinnett and Hitchland. The Pringle post office opened in 1929, and a school was organized that year. William H. Pringle, for whom the community is named, donated land for a school building. By 1933 Pringle had three businesses and a population of twenty. The post office closed about 1947, and the school was consolidated with the Morse schools in 1977. The population rose to sixty in 1947, dropped to forty-six in 1968, and has been estimated at forty from 1974 to 2000.
REFERENCE: Mark Odintz, “PRINGLE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnp56), accessed November 23, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
While the smokestack is what initially caught my eye, I quickly focused on the rounded corners. This Art Deco motif was frequently used in public works projects built during the 1930s and 40s. It imparts a sense of modernity to what might otherwise be rather prosaic structure. From the dark stripe of roofing tar, one can assume that there was a canopy or awning attached to these two facades. I haven’t determined exactly when it was built or whether it provided power to the town or to to the cotton gin.
Granger is on State Highway 95 twelve miles north of Taylor in northeastern Williamson County. It originated in 1882 when the Houston and San Antonio branches of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad intersected at the site. The log Grange hall, lodge, and store were moved to the intersection from nearby Macedonia. The new community, first named Pollack, was later named for the Grange association or for John R. Granger, a Civil War veteran. Because Granger was in the middle of the fertile blackland area, the railroad network made it an important cotton marketing and shipping point. The town’s first newspaper, the Granger Banner, appeared sometime before November 1887. A post office was established in April 1884, and banks, churches, and schools were immediately begun. The Georgetown and Granger Railroad Company chartered a link line on December 13, 1890, and constructed more than fifteen miles of track between the two towns in 1892 and 1893. In 1890 Granger had three churches, a college, a hotel, and five gins. The town was incorporated in 1891. By 1900 the population had risen to 841, and it doubled in the next ten years. By 1910 a combined cotton compress and cottonseed oil mill, an electric light plant, an ice factory, and a waterworks were all built. The Granger gin was among the largest of its day in the United States. Mark Jones opened the town’s first bank in 1894. In 1912 Granger became the only town in Texas with a population of less than 5,000 that had paved streets. The Storrs Opera House, built by A. W. Storrs in 1905, hosted traveling shows and even featured the Chicago Opera Company. Czechs were attracted to the cheap, fertile land, and by the early twentieth century Czech culture, both Catholic and Protestant, had become strong and influential in the community. A Czech Protestant church was first organized in Granger in 1880. A Brethren congregation, the most important Czech Protestant church in Texas, was established in 1892. In 1903 a convention of Brethren congregations in Texas was held in Granger and successfully unified all the congregations into the Evangelical Unity of Bohemian and Moravian Brethren. A Brethren teacher-training summer school, called Hus Memorial School, was established in Granger in 1914. It was later moved to Temple. The Granger National Bank, opened in 1937, advertised in Czech newspapers as “your Czech bank.” Našinec, a Czech-language Catholic weekly newspaper for Texas, began in 1914 and was still being published in 1989.
The Granger population peaked in the mid-1920s at over 2,000 and subsequently declined during the general exodus from rural communities to cities. In 1938 the first corn carnival south of the Mason-Dixon Line attracted 20,000 attendants to Granger. In 1981 Granger Lake, formed by a dam the San Gabriel River, was opened to the public. The population of Granger in 1987 was 1,236. In 1990 it was 1,190. The population reached 1,299 in 2000.
REFERENCES: Barbara McCandless, “GRANGER, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hjg08), accessed August 25, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Flint, at the junction of Farm roads 2868, 346, and 2493, four miles north of Bullard in Smith County, was originally part of the Tomás Quevedo survey. The site, named for local landowner Robert P. Flynt, became a stop on the Kansas and Gulf Short Line Railroad in 1882. The post office began operations in 1887 as Flint, when postmaster Charles B. Brown misspelled the name on application forms. Robert Flynt succeeded him the next year. In 1890 the settlement had a general store, three cotton gins, a physician, and a population of twenty-five. In 1892 the Etna Methodist Church was moved there. By 1902 some 100 local families were engaged in truck farming. That year they shipped eighty-five railroad cars of tomatoes, as well as large amounts of cabbage, cantaloupes, and peaches. The town supported a blacksmith shop, a telephone exchange, a telegraph service, and the C. B. Rather and A. M. Campbell mercantile companies. The local gin and gristmill shipped 750 to 1,000 bales of cotton each year. Flint also had Methodist and Baptist churches. Records for 1903 showed two schools, one with three teachers and 147 white students and the other with two teachers and eighty-one black students.
By 1914 local farmers shipped record amounts of nursery stock, fruit, and tomatoes from Flint. That year the population peaked at 450. The town had six general stores, a bank, and a newspaper, the Flint Weekly Reader. During the 1920s the original frame school building was torn down and replaced with a two-story brick structure where six teachers taught grades one through ten. There were five businesses, a physician, and a justice of the peace court. By 1925 the population had stabilized at 200. In 1936 a Flint school with seven teachers had 203 white pupils, and a two-teacher facility had fifty-one black students. The Great Depression greatly injured the business of the area. After 1950 the population remained around 150. By 1952 the Flint Independent School District had been established, but it was later consolidated into the Tyler Independent School District. Maps showed two churches and a cemetery at Flint in 1973, when the old school was in use as a community center. In 1989 an incredible thirty-seven businesses and a post office were reported. In 1990 the population was still recorded as 150, but in 2000 it had increased to 700.
REFERENCES: Vista K. McCroskey, “FLINT, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlf14); accessed August 25, 2011. 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.