South Plains settlement, located in western Crosby and eastern Lubbock
Counties, had many "firsts" in West Texas history. Estacado
was established by Quaker families originating from North Carolina
in 1877 and 1878. It was the first agricultural settlement on the
South Plains, growing crops planted in Staked Plains soil.
Corn, oats, sorghum, potatoes and assorted vegetables grew and produced
well proving the semi-desert climate could raise decent crops.
The settlement also provided the first organized education in the
South Plains. By 1888, the school had 32 students enrolled. In 1890,
a school for higher education was introduced offering two years
beyond the secondary level and believed to be the first college
on the entire Llano Estacado.
Before the county and town of Lipscomb were formed there was an
open saloon operating on the site. In 1886, George McSpadden established
the business to serve friends and travelers passing through the
Since there was no ice for beverages, George lowered bottles of
beer in buckets, down into his hand-dug water well to cool. If George
was not around to serve customers they served themselves, dropping
payment into a tin cup nailed to the well posts. It would be hard
to imagine that degree of honesty in today's world.
Shootouts and saloon brawling was finally curbed in the early days
by the law requiring patrons to check their weapons upon entering
the establishment. As civilization took root the public began leaving
their guns at home. By 1900, law enforcement was well in charge
with few crimes committed in the average town.
oil gusher blew in on Jan. 10, 1901, causing an oil boom like no
other before or since.
Within a few days the town of Beaumont
and the surrounding settlements were swamped with speculators, operators
and the usual malcontents feeding off the excitement. Crime exploded
overnight, with no one safe after dark A crisis was in the making.
The Chief of Police was a wise old-timer and had the answer. He
issued and posted the statement, "All citizens tote your guns at
all times in plain sight for all to see." It was almost like the
opening of hunting season. A few brief bloody episodes, and the
crime wave halted. The criminal element had forgotten that only
a few years earlier all citizens wore guns and knew how to use them.
In the 1880s at Tascosa,
a sad story with a happy ending occurred. An LS cowboy named Steve
Conklin occasionally went on a tear, got drunk then sobered up so
depressed he threatened suicide.
His friends always took care to unload his gun while he was drinking
so he could not hurt himself when he sobered up.
After a particularly
bad bout of drinking in a Tascosa saloon, Steve sat on the floor,
put his pistol to his head and said, "Goodbye boys, here goes old
nobody" and pulled the trigger.
When nothing happened his friends howled with laughter and he survived
to live to a ripe old age. However, for the remainder of his life
he was known to all as Steve Nobody.
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" June 9, 2008 Column