order to apply for organizing a new county in early Texas there
had to be a minimum of 150 legal voters living within the designated
area. This number of voters was required in order to provide the
necessary law officers, justice officials, tax officials, seat a
grand jury for indictments and provide a regular jury for trials.
In Wheeler County, the first county in the Panhandle,
the 1880 census showed 1,307 total population. However, the area
designated at the time actually contained three counties, Wheeler
and what was later called Gray and Roberts counties.
Permission to organize came when it was determined that 150 legal
voters existed among the 1,307 population. Cap Arrington resigned
from the Texas Rangers to be elected Sheriff, Rufe Lefors was appointed
Deputy Sheriff, Mobeetie
was acclaimed the county seat and the county business began. This
recorded business is some of the best Panhandle history we have
of this era.
Although the Red River Wars had ended with the Plains Indians placed
on reservations in Oklahoma, the Indian troubles did not end. History
shows time and again, small bands or families of Indians, disenchanted
with reservation life, left Oklahoma and traveled around the Panhandle.
Along the way, they often butchered livestock for meat and broke
into homes to steal food.
Sheriff Arrington once captured about twenty Indians with a string
of pack mules carrying old model rifles, muzzle-loaders and old
rim-fire ammunition. The Army was called, took charge, buried the
armament in a secret location and returned the Indians to the reservation.
The cache of buried weapons has not been found to date as far as
The RO Ranch once found a group of unarmed Indians camped in a grove
of trees where they had butchered a cow or two for meat. They too
were captured, the Army called and were hauled back to the reservation
but not without a bit of excitement for the area residents.
Another time, settlers in the McLean/Alanreed
vicinity gathered at the RO Ranch block house for protection during
an Indian scare. They visited, partied and danced for a day or two
before going home after enjoying some rest and recreation.
one of the earlier settlers on Rock Creek south of Alanreed,
Texas, tells of having to ride to Mobeetie
(40 miles one way) to get his mail. He always led a packhorse along
hunting meat to sell at the fort or to take back home. He told of
the prairie grass at the time which grew to the height of his stirrups
when riding a horse.
During one trip he crossed the section of land where McLean
is located today and found a buffalo straggler coming from the creeks
to the south. He shot the animal, skinned and cut the meat into
parcels to load on his packhorse. When he raised up to his feet
he discovered he was surrounded by a group of Indians.
The chief told Mr. McCracken he wanted the buffalo. Mr. McCracken
said he could have it and then took his horses and departed the
site as fast as possible.
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" December
18, 2007 Column
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