the jail museum are several buildings from Old Mobeetie along with a wooden flagpole,
the last surviving remnant from Fort Elliott."|
Jeanson, September 2007
in a Pecan Shell
is supposed to mean "Sweetwater" in one Indian dialect or another. According
to T. Lindsay Baker's Ghost Town's of Texas, when the application for a
Post Office was rejected because Sweetwater
was already taken, they got the idea to submit it as an Indian word. So a man
was sent to the Fort (Elliott) to ask for a translation from an Indian Scout.
came back with the name Mobeetie, which might mean Sweetwater or "Why do you want
to know?" or "Buy me a drink and I'll tell you." If the scout misheard, it might
even mean "Beetwater." Anyway, it's too late now. By the way, the Fort was
Fort Elliott, not the guy who went to get the translation.
It's original name was Hidetown in 1874, when it was a supply center for
It was a wild and wooly place. The gamblers, soldiers and buffalo hunters made
it wild, the Buffalo made it wooly. Bat Masterson paid the town a visit
as well as Pat Garrett. Masterson bought a Buffalo robe and Garrett bought
a T-shirt for his pal Billy the Kid that said: "I've just been shot by
A jail was built in the early 1880s and a Texas Ranger
Captain Arrington became the sheriff. Temple
Houston, son of Sam,
served a term here as District Attorney before he became a State Senator.
In 1878, the town moved a little closer to the Fort. Evidently the Fort didn't
like to be crowded, because the soldiers packed up and left in 1890. There was
a mass conversion during an 1893 religious revival and just when everyone saw
the light and closed the saloons, the town's future was dimming.
failed to get the railroad to pass through, then they got hit with a tornado in
the city of Wheeler
was made County Seat and people started wearing T-Shirts saying: "I'm from
Mobeetie, kick me!"
finally brought a railroad, sort of. It was two miles away and once again the
town moved. Some stayed and Mobeetie became "Old" and "New." 1940 found the town
with a population of 400, equal to the 1890 census. It had dipped as low as 128
in 1900. Now it's less that 200 according to the Texas Almanac.
flagpole from Fort Elliott remains to this day, and the old
stone jail is a museum.
Wheeler County Jail:
Wheeler County Jail
jail in Panhandle of Texas. Central
holding place for badmen. Built at cost of $18,500, including $1200 for a hangman's
device put in to meet state requirement. Stone quarried on farm of Emanuel Dubbs,
first county judge.
Texas Historic Landmark, 1965)
Wheeler County jail window detail|
Photo courtesy Terry
Jeanson, September 2007
County jail entrance|
Jeanson, September 2007
street scene in the early 1900s|
Photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com
Vs Marshal in Old Mobeetie by Mike Cox
Townsend’s stay at Fort Elliott
in the fall of 1878 would be brief, but not dull. In fact, for a time it looked
like violence might erupt in nearby Mobeetie...
Texas Forum Subject:
Dear TE, I very much appreciate the work you do. I lived in Mobeetie in 1948-51
when Daddy was the pastor of the Methodist church there, and heard all the stories
about the naming of the town that I see in your magazine. By the way, Mobeetie
is 31 miles east of Pampa, not 20. My sister-in-law was a Totty, one of the homesteading
families there... Her home was built of lumber from Fort Elliott when it was torn
down. The Mobeetie kids still have reunions on the first Saturday in September
every year. Oh, and I lived at Oklahoma Lane too.... Best wishes - David
Willard, January 09, 2007
In 1963 I met Jimmy L. Simpson in Abilene. He was from Mobeetie. He told me it
was the oldest town in the panhandle. He took me there and we worked in the hay
fields for a week. His dad, Byron Simpson, owned the gas station. He took me to
where the old fort stood. We found relics, bullets, and an old knife. It is now
2006, I talked to Byron Simpson last year. His son lives somewhere in the Carolinas.
Thank you for great memories of a lost time in the past. - Gene Long, N. Richland
Hills, Texas, June 16, 2006
The Naming of Mobeetie
I grew up in Pampa, Texas,
about 20 miles from Mobeetie in the 1950s and 60s. I seem to recall many years
ago hearing a story told by Texas writer, free speech hero, and humorist, John
Henry Faulk, about how Mobeetie was named. In the story as told by John Henry,
the citizens wanted to name the town Sweetwater
but the name was already taken by another Texas town. Efforts to name the town
Sweetwater in Spanish were to no avail because 'Agua Dulce' was already a town
down in the Texas Coastal Bend. The citizens decided to name the town Sweetwater
in the Cheyene language because Cheyene Indians worked and lived at Fort Elliott.
So a man was sent to Fort Elliott to ask what is the Cheyene word for Sweetwater.
The Indian, who was a Cheyene Indian Scout chuckled and said, "Mobeetie." It was
about two years later when the citizens of Mobeetie found out why the Indian had
chuckled when providing the translation. According to the story told John Henry,
it turns out that "Mobeetie" in Cheyene means "buffalo dung". Anyway, that is
how I remember the story.
Work for the Lord---the retirement is out
of this world! - Rev. Carl W. Clark Driftwood United Methodist Church, Driftwood,
Texas, January 24, 2006
I just finished reading the piece on Mobeetie and wanted to comment on the translation
of the name. While I was living in Borger, I was told by numerous panhandle citizens
that the Indians decided to play a joke on the white settlers and the word the
settlers thought was "sweet water" was really buffalo piss. I noticed that you
didn't mention that translation in your suggestions! :-) - G. Thomas, March
"Ghost Towns of
Texas" by T. Lindsey Baker features Mobeetie and 87 other "Ghost" towns -
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic
photos, please contact
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