There’s not much left to see in Enochs, TX these days except the remains of a post office, store, cotton gins, and this pretty little church. Buildings abandoned in the Texas Panhandle either get ravaged by storms or just quietly fall apart and Enochs has some of both. I was particularly attracted to the church by its simple lines, unadorned facade, and pueblo-styled steeple. Its setting in the middle of a field, a half-mile off the highway only accentuated its forlorn condition. Enochs developed as a trading center for the surrounding farms and ranches beginning in the 1920s and reached a peak reported population of 250 in 1940, when it had five stores. In the 1980 and 1990 censuses its population was estimated at 164, and the town had several businesses and a post office. Enochs can be found at the junction of State Highway 214 and Farm Road 54, three miles from the Cochran County line in southern Bailey County.
REFERENCE: ”ENOCHS, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hle23), accessed December 15, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
The Crabapple School is one of twelve old school buildings saved by The Friends of Gillespie County Country Schools, Inc. All of them are picturesque, quaint and remotely located – the communities they once served, long gone. Many of the buildings were built in the familiar German-Texan vernacular of the Fredericksburg area.
German immigrants who came to Fredericksburg in the 1840 and later, settled in the Crabapple area. Many parents were eager to donate land so a school could be built near their homes. The two families who were extremely anxious to give the land for a school were Crockett Riley and Mathias Schmidt. It was decided to have a foot race to see who would have the privilege of donating the land. Mathias Schmidt, a farmer, won the race. The school was then built on the land he gave for this purpose. The families donated their labor to erect a school building of native limestone, which opened in 1878 as Crabapple School #10.
This first building was a two-story rock house consisting of two rooms. One room was a used as a classroom, with the other used as a teacherage or living quarters for the teacher. The upstairs, used for storage, had an outside stairway. About 10 years later, another room was added. Between 1887 and 1910, this building also served as a post office. In 1882, the second school building was built of limestone at a cost of $600. It not only served as the school, but also as the Lutheran church, until the congregation built their own church nearby in 1897. There was only one teacher to teach all grades.
The highest enrollment was at the turn of the century with about 40 students. Teachers’ salaries ranged from $80 per month in the 1920′s to $250 in the early 1950′s. In all, 28 teachers taught at the Crabapple school. Crabapple School was consolidated with Fredericksburg ISD in May 1957, when only nine students remained.
Crabapple is located in Gillespie County approximately 10.5 miles north of Fredericksburg.
REFERENCE: Martin Donell Kohout, “CRABAPPLE, TX,” Handbook of Texas online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hvcae), accessed January 31, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association. The Friends of Gillespie County Country Schools.
I really like this little two-room school house. The front facade is very different than the typical rural schoolhouse. It looks to me that the person that built it had a good sense of design and proportion. There are even nice wood details around the windows. The building sits forlornly in a fallow field about one hundred yards off Highway 304 about 5 miles south of Bastrop. I’ve visited with the archivist at the Bastrop County Historical Society Museum about Clearview. She was able to tell me that she has a copy of a Teacher’s Daily Register dated 1952 and undated documents referencing Mable Echols as teacher and B. O. Washington as assistant.
Driftwood, seventeen miles northwest of San Marcos in central Hays County, grew up in the 1880s as a supply center for neighboring ranches and farms. Pioneers settled in the area, then known as Liberty Hill, as early as 1850, but most settlers arrived in the early 1880s. The community grew rapidly in that decade, perhaps as a result of its access to the new rail terminals at Kyle and Buda. By 1890 Driftwood had a post office, a school, churches, a cotton gin, and a general store. From a low of ten in 1925, the population grew to nearly 100 during the middle years of the twentieth century, then dwindled to fewer than twenty-five by the 1970s. In 1945 Driftwood became part of the Buda school district. A century after its founding, the community remained a quiet Hill Country crossroads served by a general store and post office. In 1990 the population was twenty-one.
REFERENCES: Daniel P. Greene, “DRIFTWOOD, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnd45), accessed December 09, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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.
Wharton, the county seat of Wharton County, is on the east bank of the lower Colorado River, forty-five miles from the Gulf of Mexico. It was part of the Caney Run mail route established by the Republic of Texas in 1838. The community was named after two leaders in the struggle for Texas independence, brothers John and William Wharton. The plantation community was first settled in 1846 by some of Stephen F. Austin’s original colonists, and a post office was established in 1847. The first lieutenant governor of Texas, Albert Horton, was an early settler. Land for the courthouse square was donated by William Kincheloe and surveyed by Virgil Stewart and William J. E. Heard. Early settlers came from Alabama, Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia, and Mississippi. Jewish immigrants, arriving as early as the 1850s, established additional businesses and began the Congregation Shearith Israel, the only synagogue in a three-county area. Other settlers in the community included Swiss, German, Mexican, and Czech immigrants and descendants of plantation slaves.
Early crops included potatoes, cotton, corn, rice, and sugar cane, and commercial enterprises included cattle, molasses, and sugar. At different times the community had a cotton oil mill, a sugar cane factory, gristmills, cotton gins, a milk-processing plant and dairy, an ice plant, and numerous other industries. Oil and sulfur production in the outlying areas contribute to the town’s economy. The population of Wharton was about 200 in the early 1880s. The New York, Texas and Mexican Railway was the first railroad to arrive at Wharton in 1881, followed by the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe in 1899. These two railroads brought a new influx of settlers, increasing the population to 1,689 in 1900 and 2,346 in 1920. In 1888 the first opera house opened.
The city was incorporated in 1902, when most of the structures were of wood construction. A major fire that year destroyed a number of buildings, convincing businessmen and the city government to use brick construction with fire walls for all buildings within the city limits and to construct a water system with fire hydrants. On February 21, 1903, the Deaton Grocery Co. (photo above) was organized. A free library was established in 1902 by the New Century Club and adopted by the city in 1904. In 1935 the majority of this library’s inventory was given to the Wharton Public School. The first public park was dedicated in 1913, and the Wharton Chamber of Commerce organized in 1919. The city experienced its greatest growth during the 1930s, increasing from 2,261 in 1930 to 4,386 in 1940. Wharton Little Theatre was organized in 1932, and Wharton County Junior College was established in 1946. The town’s population reached 5,734 in 1960 and 7,881 in 1970
REFERENCE: Ray Spitzenberger, “WHARTON, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hfw01), accessed December 10, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Teague is at the junction of U.S. Highway 84, State Highway 179, and Farm roads 80 and 145, nine miles southwest of Fairfield in western Freestone County. The area was first settled around the time of the Civil War. During the latter half of the nineteenth century a small community known as Brewer, grew up at the site. When the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway was built through the county in 1906, it located its machine and car shops at the site. The town, renamed Teague after Betty Teague, niece of railroad magnate Benjamin Franklin Yoakum, was incorporated in 1906.
Benjamin Franklin Yoakum, railroad executive, was born near Tehuacana, Texas, in Limestone County on August 20, 1859, the son of Narcissa (Teague) and Franklin L. Yoakum. At age twenty he became a rodman and chain bearer in a railroad surveying gang, laying the International-Great Northern Railroad into Palestine, Texas. He later became a land boomer and immigration agent for the Jay Gould Lines. He drilled artesian wells and brought European immigrants from New York to farm the land of the Trans-Mississippi and Rio Grande valley. In 1886 he became traffic manager of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway. In 1887 the town of Yoakum, Texas, was named for him. In 1889 he was promoted to general manager of the railways, and in 1890 he became receiver. For three years he was general manager and third vice president of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe. In 1897 he became general manager of the Frisco (St. Louis and San Francisco Railway Company). Under him the lines grew from 1,200 to 6,000 miles. In 1905 the Frisco and Rock Island lines were joined, and Yoakum was the chairman of the executive committee. This line was known as the Yoakum Line and at the time was the largest railroad system under a single control. His career was one of the most colorful of the many men in railroad history. He knew each branch of work: engineering, traffic, operating, and finance. In his later years he became very interested in the farm problem. He was an advocate of an agricultural cooperative society, growing and marketing farm products to reduce the spread between farm and consumer. It is said that his genius made Hidalgo and Cameron counties into agricultural communities. In 1907 Yoakum moved to New York, where he had a farm in Farmingdale, Long Island. He became president and later chairman of the board of the Empire Board and Mortgage Company.
The community served as a shipping center for area cotton farmers and grew rapidly. By 1914 it had Baptist, Catholic, Disciples of Christ, Methodist, Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal, and Presbyterian churches, as well as public schools, waterworks, an electric light plant, an ice plant, three banks, two cotton gins, a cottonseed oil mill, a cotton compress, the Teague Daily News, two weekly newspapers, and a population of 3,300. Teague continued to prosper during the 1920s.
The onset of the Great Depression and plummeting cotton prices, however, began a slow decline that continued until the 1980s. The number of businesses dropped from 140 in 1931 to 100 in 1936. After World War II many other stores and businesses closed, and by the early 1980s only forty-six rated businesses remained. The town also witnessed a decline in population during the same period; it reached a low of some 2,800 in 1975. After the mid-1980s, however, the population grew steadily, and in 1990 Teague had 3,268 residents. The population was 4,557 in 2000. The area has large coal, lignite, sand, and clay deposits. In recent years natural gas production has become an important industry.
REFERENCE: Christopher Long, “TEAGUE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hgt04), accessed July 28, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; Mary M. Orozco-Vallejo, “YOAKUM, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN,” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fyo01), accessed July 30, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
The Yellow House Ranch, covering 312,175 acres in Lamb, Hockley, Bailey, and Cochran counties, was established in July 1901, when George Washington Littlefield purchased the southern, or Yellow Houses, division of the XIT Ranch for two dollars an acre. In earlier times the Spanish called a nearby yellowish limestone bluff pitted with caves Las Casas Amarillas, the Yellow Houses. From a distance, and especially when there was a mirage, the bluff appeared to be a city. Though little oil was found beneath the ranch itself, one of the first wells in this oil region was drilled in 1912 at South Camp, about six miles northwest of Levelland. In June 1912 Littlefield contracted with the Santa Fe Railroad to build a segment of its main line from Lubbock to Texico, New Mexico, across his land. In August he organized the Littlefield Lands Company to sell the northeastern corner of 79,040 acres for farms and to establish the town of Littlefield in Lamb County. By 1920 only 47,601 acres had been sold. In April 1923, after Littlefield’s death, the remainder of the ranch was sold by White and the Littlefield estate to the Yellow House Land Company and was subdivided for sale as farms.
Built on land that was once part of the Yellow House Ranch, Pettit was named for John Pettit, who established a ranch in the area in 1922. The community developed as other families settled in the vicinity. Joe Bryant started the town’s first store in 1926, and Jim Mason built a gin in 1929. A Pettit post office was established in 1935 with Truett Mauldin as postmaster. Pettit had an independent school district from 1928 to 1964, when it was consolidated with that of Levelland. In 1946 the town’s population was about eighty to ninety, and it had three businesses and twenty homes. The Pentecostal Church of God bought some school buildings in 1958 and established the Great Plains Boys Ranch. In 1976 there was still a gin and a post office at Pettit. In 1980 and 1990 the town reported a population of twenty-six and a post office.
In addition to Pettit, the towns of Pep and Whitharral in Hockley County were established by the company on this acreage. At that time the LFD brand was dropped, but later some 23,000 acres surrounding the old ranch headquarters was returned to cattle grazing. Tragically, Littlefield’s old ranch house was lost in a fire on September 9, 1930. After J. P. White’s death in 1934 his son, George Littlefield White, owned and operated the Yellow House and built a modern brick home at the headquarters near the site of the Yellow Lakes. Here he bred high-grade Herefords and fed out several hundred sheep annually. Pettit is on Farm Road 303 twelve miles north of Levelland in northwestern Hockley County.
REFERENCES: William R. Hunt, “PETTIT, TX (HOCKLEY COUNTY),” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnp23), accessed June 16, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; David B. Gracy II, “YELLOW HOUSE RANCH,” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/apy01), accessed June 16, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Tennessee Colony was founded in 1838 by settlers who came from the Old South by wagons, seeking fertile, watered farm lands. Early families included the Sheltons, Avants, Hanks, and Seaglers. The moist climate and fertile soil was suitable for growing cotton, and a number of cotton plantations prospered. Their cotton was shipped from Magnolia Ferry on the Trinity and created great wealth. Early businesses were a general store, blacksmith shop, cabinet shop (which made furniture still found in area). The town was a trade center for places as far away as Dallas. The plantation era reached a climax in grandeur on the properties of F. S. Jackson, a settler from Virginia. Circuit riders held religious services in homes until a log cabin church could be built, probably in late 1838; a second log church succeeded this one. Masons attended Magnolia Lodge No. 113 near the Trinity River for years, but in 1857 obtained charter for Tyre Lodge No. 198, A.F. & A.M., in Tennessee Colony. They then worked to build a 2-story church-school-lodge hall, which was finished in 1860 (and was to be used until 1948).
In 1851 a log school opened, and Grant Kersky was the teacher. The schools were outstanding, especially those taught by a Mr. Hooker and by Professor Sidney Newsome. They drew patronage from Palestine and other area towns. Remembered students included Addison and Randolph Clark, later to become founders of a college that would be forerunner of Texas Christian University. Descendants of original colonists still live here.
A post office opened in 1852. The community experienced racial tensions in the years before and after the Civil War. In 1860, for example, two white men from Mississippi, named Cable and Wyrick, were accused of plotting a slave uprising. They were suspected of encouraging slaves to poison the town’s water supply and kill most of the white citizens. Cable and Wyrick were quickly tried and hanged. In 1869 a man named Seymour arrived in town to open a black school, but settlers objected to this and forced him to leave.
The first railroad arrived at nearby Palestine in 1872. In 1884 Tennessee Colony had three churches, a school, a steam gristmill, a cotton gin, and a population of 200. The population dropped over the next few decades, as businesses moved to Palestine. In 1914 Tennessee Colony had a population of 100. A few grocers and cotton gins served the area, and it had a telephone connection. During the twentieth century the town functioned as a small agricultural center. Tennessee Colony is off of Farm Road 321 fourteen miles northwest of Palestine in northwestern Anderson County.
REFERENCES: Charles E. Moss, “TENNESSEE COLONY, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlt08), accessed August 01, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; Historical Markers for Tennessee Colony Cemetery and Tyre Masonic Lodge No. 198, Texas Historical Sites Atlas, published by the Texas Historical Commission, accessed August 08, 2013.
Lockhart, county seat of Caldwell County, was named for Byrd Lockhart, who in 1831 received the land that later became the Lockhart townsite as partial payment for his surveying work for the Mexican government. During the 1830s settlement in the area was limited by the threat of Indian raids, but after the battle of Plum Creek in 1840, more settlers began to arrive. By the mid-1840s, several families had made their home near Lockhart Springs, and when Caldwell County was established in 1848, the new town of Lockhart became the county seat. Lockhart was incorporated in 1852 with a mayor-council government. By that time the community was well established: Isabel Stewart began publishing a weekly newspaper in 1849 or 1850. The Lockhart Academy, opened in 1850, was probably the first School in Caldwell County. A Masonic lodge, built in 1850, provided meeting space for both school and church functions.
By 1855 at least five different churches had been organized. An 1858 census of incorporated towns listed Lockhart with 423 residents. In the late 1860s Lockhart became a starting point for the Chisholm Trail, and, as such, developed as a regional trading center in the early 1870s. Beginning in 1874, however, the arrival of the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway in the southern part of the county and the subsequent establishment of Luling cut into business activity at Lockhart for several years. Lockhart continued to grow, but did not recover its dominance of the county economy until after 1887, when the completion of the Lockhart-San Marcos section of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas line increased access to outside markets. By 1890 Lockhart had electricity, a waterworks, streetcars, four schools, seven churches, and a national bank to serve its 1,233 residents. Aiding its economic growth was the establishment of two more rail lines: in 1889 the San Antonio and Aransas Pass connected Lockhart and Shiner (by way of Luling), and in 1892 the Missouri, Kansas and Texas extended its track from Lockhart to Smithville. In the 1890s and early 1900s Lockhart became an important regional center for processing cotton, with a cottonseed oil mill opening in 1893 and a compress in 1901.
The turn of the century also brought the establishment of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library (still extant and said to be the state’s oldest continuously operating city library) and Kreuz’s Market (still selling barbecue in the early 1990s). The census of 1900 showed that the city population had nearly doubled in ten years, rising to 2,306. The discovery of the Luling oilfield in 1920 again put Lockhart in economic second place in the county, but some Lockhart citizens were able to benefit from investments in the field. Though it did not boom as Luling did, Lockhart grew steadily, its population rising from 3,731 in 1920 to 5,018 in the early 1940s.
In 1923, materials salvaged from Ross Institute, a former school for Lockhart’s Caucasian children, were used in 1923 to build the Lockhart Vocational High School (photo above) for African American students. The Rosenwald Foundation of Chicago, which funded many African American schools in the South in the early 20th century, provided the design and part of the construction cost. The school district and local African American citizens raised the majority of the funds for its completion. The two-story brick and stucco schoolhouse contained six classrooms, a principal’s office and a large auditorium that also served as a social center for the neighborhood. Prominent brick and stucco pilasters on the unadorned main facade rise above the parapet. The east and west sides of the building have large banks of windows to maximize natural light. The lower level has a centrally located portico with double doors that divide the principal facade. R.A. Atkinson was the first principal of the school, which received state accreditation in 1926. At the time two years of high school coursework were offered here, and students could attend the twelfth grade in Luling. In 1946, the facility changed its name to G.W. Carver High School. It closed in 1964 due to school integration, but the building was later used by the Head Start program.
During World War II the Lockhart-to-Luling branch of the railroad was abandoned (in 1942) as part of the war effort, but as each city had another rail line, neither was irreparably damaged. The agricultural nature of the county economy was reflected in the major businesses in Lockhart at that time: cotton gins and compresses, a creamery, a poultry-dressing plant, a peanut shelling and processing plant, and livestock marketing and shipping facilities.
During the 1960s the population of Lockhart leveled off at slightly more than 6,000. In the early 1970s, residents became concerned that Lockhart might develop into a bedroom community for commuters to nearby Austin. In 1973, in an effort to avoid such a development, a group of Lockhart residents established the Lockhart Industrial Foundation, the function of which was to attract new businesses to Lockhart. Though in the early 1990s some Lockhart residents were commuting to jobs in Austin, the Foundation was fairly successful in attracting industries to Lockhart. In 1978 the courthouse and several blocks of downtown Lockhart were listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
REFERENCES: Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, “LOCKHART, TX (CALDWELL COUNTY),” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hfl07), accessed August 02, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association. “Lockhart Vocational High School”, Texas Historical Marker #14288, Texas Historical Commission.
Tehuacana has a rich history of education dating to the period just prior to statehood. Several institutes of higher education have called Tehuacana home, including the Tehuacana Academy pictured above. It was a Cumberland Presbyterian college that opened its doors in 1852. Dr. Franklin L. Yoakum (a physician turned teacher who later founded the Texas Academy of Science) and Daniel G, Molloy taught there. The academy was a local enterprise, despite its connections to the Presbyterian Church, and neither Bible courses nor denominational views were taught. Tehuacana Academy, as an institution, did not survive the Civil War.
A post office called Tewockony Springs was established at the current location of Tehuacana in 1847. It was most likely named for the Tawakoni Indians, part of the Wichita group from central Kansas who lived in the area until the late 1840s. When Tehuacana Academy opened in 1852, the community was known as Tehuacana Hills, though the post office continued to be called after the springs. The post office was discontinued during the Civil War, but service resumed in 1869, at which time the name of the office was changed to Tehuacana. That same year, John Boyd persuaded the Cumberland Presbyterian Church to make Tehuacana the site of Trinity University, which had been created by merging three other small Presbyterian schools that had also failed during the Civil War.
By the mid-1880s Tehuacana had three churches, two gristmills and cotton gins, and 500 residents. It was incorporated in 1890 with a mayor-council form of city government. The census of 1900 reported 382 residents in Tehuacana. Trinity University moved to Waxahachie in 1902, and the property was deeded to the Methodist Church, which opened Westminster College, a preparatory school for Methodist ministers, which had its origins in rural Collin County. Westminster College remained in Tehuacana until 1950 when the property was sold to the Congregational Methodist Church, which opened another junior college there, the Westminster Junior College and Bible Institute. It offered an associate of arts degree. The Bible Institute, a department of the college, offered a four-year curriculum leading to the degree of bachelor of religion. In 1968–69 the college had fifteen faculty members and ninety-five students, but by 1970 the student body had decreased to sixty; Elmo McGuire was president. In 1971 thirty-five students and seven teachers of the Westminster Junior College and Bible Institute moved from Tehuacana to a forty-acre campus at Florence, Mississippi, a location called the “geographical center” of the Congregational Methodist Church.
In 1903 the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway completed its track between Cleburne and Mexia, passing through Tehuacana. The population increased to 425 by 1910 and to 615 by the mid-1920s. Tehuacana lost its rail service in 1942, when the track between Hubbard and Mexia was abandoned as part of the war effort. Westminster College became part of Southwestern University in 1942 but was closed in 1950; the campus reopened in 1953 as Westminster Junior College and Bible Institute. The population of Tehuacana fell to 412 in the early 1930s and continued to decline through the early 1980s, reaching a low of 265 in 1982. Moderate growth in the 1980s brought the population to 322 by 1990. In 2000 the population was 307. Tehuacana is at the intersection of State Highway 171 and Farm Road 638, six miles northwest of Mexia in northeastern Limestone County.
REFERENCES: Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, “TEHUACANA, TX (LIMESTONE COUNTY),” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlt04), accessed July 28, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; “WESTMINSTER JUNIOR COLLEGE AND BIBLE INSTITUTE,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/kbw13), accessed July 31, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; David Minor, “WESTMINSTER COLLEGE,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/kbw12), accessed July 28, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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.
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.
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.