Panhandle

Post

Santa Fe Railroad Depot

Where Post, Texas sits today was cereal manufacturer Charles W. Post’s second location for his proposed model town (see Close City).  It was the second only due to its geographical location near the center of Garza County – the state legislature’s preferred location for the seats of county government.  Post is situated just below the rim of the Caprock Escarpment of the Llano Estacado, which forms the southeastern boundary of the Great Plains.  This area of Texas had long been the buffalo-hunting grounds of the Plains Indian tribes.  The Indian’s removal by the U. S. Army in the 1870s allowed cattle ranchers to safely pasture their herds.  For thirty years after its creation by the state legislature, citizens in Garza County were vastly outnumbered by livestock.

In 1906 C. W. Post began purchasing ranches in Garza and Lynn counties, ultimately totaling 225,000 acres, most of which was subdivided into 160-acre parcels.  Post platted a townsite in 1907 and began construction his social experiment, the town of Post City.  He established the Double U. Company to manage construction of the town as well as its promotion and lot sales.  Part of the effort to attract land purchasers included lining the streets with trees and prohibiting alcoholic beverages and prostitution.  Post City’s first post office was housed in a tent, as were many of the town’s businesses while they waited for buildings to be completed. In addition to houses, the Double U. Company built the Algerita Hotel, cotton gin, and a textile manufacturing plant – Postex Cotton Mills.  By 1910, when the Santa Fe Railroad arrived, a bank and a school had been built and the town’s first newspaper had started publication – the Post City Post.

Another experimental effort of C. W. Post to increase the value of his land was rainmaking.  Explosives, attached to kites that were tethered to towers atop the escarpment, were detonated in the atmosphere at timed intervals.  And while rainfall frequently occurred after the explosions, it was never determined whether the explosions caused the rain or not.

The town of Post, Texas – with a population of 1,000 people – was incorporated in 1914, which was also the year that Charles W. Post died.  By 1916, after an extensive real estate campaign, Post and the surrounding area contained approximately 3,000 inhabitants and 14 private corporations which together held over 1.2 million dollars in capital stock.  That year the town, with financial support from Post’s estate, made an unsuccessful bid to become the site of West Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College, which would later become Texas Tech University.  The town continued to grow, even through the Great Depression and Dust Bowl years.  Postex Cotton Mills was sold to Ely and Walker Dry Goods Company of St. Louis in 1945.  At the time of its sale, it employed 375 workers who produced over six million yards of cloth each year.  The mill, now owned by Burlington Industries, has remained the town’s largest employer.

Santa Fe Railroad Depot – This was one of four stations in Texas designed by Kansas City architect Louis Curtiss between 1909 and 1911.  Reinforced concrete was used for the structure and the architectural ornamentation.  The depot has been restored by the Post Chamber of Commerce.

REFERENCE:  Paul M. Lucko, “POST, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hgp10), accessed April 06, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Enochs

Church – Enochs, TX

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.

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.

Lipscomb

Lipscomb, Texas Bank

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.

REFERENCES:

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.

Maple

Maple Methodist Church

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.