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Texas | Columns | "It's All Trew"

Water needed for towns

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew

What was the most important ingredient needed to establish a new town or settlement? Live water, either at or close by the site. Every early Panhandle settlement including Palo Duro, Adobe Walls, Rifle Pits, Hays, Trujillo, Salinas, Fort Elliott, Tascosa and Old Clarendon were started because of the abundance of water nearby in springs or creeks. Most of the first arrivals came by horseback and had no tools or the inclination to dig a hand-dug water well.

This began to change when the first railroads appeared. Why? Because huge tank cars could haul water to dry settlements, section crew camps and cattle shipping pens. Old plastered wall cisterns still show at some of these sites. Once the process of water well drilling was perfected, a settlement, ranch or a homestead could be founded anywhere water could be found underground.

Now, more than 130 years later, water is still the most important ingredient needed for a town, city or a country abode. Some of life's most precious things never change.

History states on June 27, 1874, at daylight, a large force of Indians under the command of Quanah Parker attacked the Buffalo Hide hunting camp of Adobe Walls, located northeast of Borger just north of the Canadian River.

Reams of information have been written about the famous battle, recovered artifacts fill numerous displays in museums, and the battle participants have been awarded honors and made famous for their efforts during this famous episode in Panhandle history.

History also leaves the impression the site seemed to die after the Indians returned and burned it to the ground. This is not true. Adobe walls do not burn, only the wooden portions of the roof and partitions inside were destroyed. In fact, according to Cleon Roberts, historian and writer from Hereford, in his article published in a book titled "The Encyclopedia of Buffalo Hunters and Skinners," Adobe Walls lived and thrived for about seven more years after the Indians supposedly left it in ashes.

It seems a stockade (standing adobe walls) was used as a store run by A.G. Springer in 1875, a year later. James H. Cator, a famous buffalo hunter and resident living at the nearby Zulu Stockade, visited the site many times for supplies.

With buffalo hunters, ranchers, cowboys, mustang hunters and others visiting for some seven years after the Indian battle, there is no doubt Adobe Walls had an interesting and continuing history and afterlife.


Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" September 7 , 2009 Column


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