Month: September 2013

Teague

Teague Hotel

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.

Pettit

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.