a Pecan Shell
Named for an Englishman
who was a shareholder in the railroad,
Best was nothing but a switching point on the Orient Railroad. When
oil was discovered in 1923, Best mushroomed as the regional supply
center. The population grew to an estimated 3,500 in just two years.
Best gained an instant reputation for being a wild town. Perhaps added
by the irony of its name and a novel (The Big Fist) written in 1946
- set its bad reputation in stone.
The town's unofficial slogan was "the town with the Best name in the
world and the Worst reputation." After the boom fizzled, only 300
people were left in the 1940s. A service station / post office was
still in operation in the 80s and by the 1990 Census - only 25 people
were left. It is now listed as 0001.
Getting There - As best I could figure out, Best was located at
Hwy 67 and Best Lane, between the highway and the train tracks located
about a block south. Best Lane turns north off of 67, and is called
Lone Wolf Lane south of the highway. Santa Rita Road runs parallel
with and between the highway and tracks, and goes to the Santa Rita
No. 1 well in Texon.
The only structures that remain standing are a small blockhouse and
Springston Ranch (see photos below).
There were no signs of life at the ranch house other than an old pickup
and a roof-mounted satellite dish. I did get there before sunrise,
but there were no lights burning. After crossing the tracks, Lone
Wolf turns back to the east; I did see what appeared to be the remains
of some type of corrogated tin building across the road from the blockhouse,
but it was totally collapsed. Traffic on the back roads was light,
namely a couple of oil field types checking wells, I reckon. There
was an active rig west of Best. Not much more than that. - George
Shaffer, March 17, 2006
on Santa Rita Road in Best
Photo courtesy George Shaffer, 2006
of our office reportedly taken in Best, Texas in 1925. The company
got its start building wooden oil derricks and Best was a small oil
boom town back then. We’re now known as McDermott International, Inc.
- Bill Soester, November 19, 2012
|Texon oil field
Click on image to enlarge
Photo courtesy Brian R. Jack
on image to enlarge
Photo courtesy Brian R. Jack
on the right is my Grandfather, Elmer Ellsworth Hartzell"
- Brian R. Jack, February 25, 2007
Wanting pictures of Best, Texas
My husband, Charles Otha Dixon was born September 27, 1934 in Best
Texas. His parents were Clarence Oliver Dixon & Ivy Sims Dixon.
Wish I had pictures of that year. Anyone can contact me at this
email: firstname.lastname@example.org - Thanks, Marianne Dixon, Borger, Texas,
May 30, 2012
My grandfather, Richard Baker Jr., was the District Attorney in
Best about 1925. I still have his business card. He was getting
ready to bust some "dishonest" oil guys about 1927, and they laid
an ambush for him coming back from San
Angelo. He managed to evade them but they caught him in the
street the next day and broke his jaw. My grandma, who was from
Indiana and met him when he was chasing Pancho Villa, said she was
done. They went to have his jaw fixed at Walter Reed in DC and they
left Texas forever. Dad's great grandfather was a leading citizen
in Crockett, Texas.
It was a tough way to leave Texas. - Tom Baker, Kilmarnock, Virginia,
January 28, 2009
I, Brian Ross Jack, was born in Best, Reagan
County, Texas on 29 July 1928, to Marion Hugh & Helen Wanita
Hartzell Jack. My grandfather also lived there: Marion Hale & Lucretia
Montgomery Jack. They lived about 100 yards in front of our house.
My father and grandfather both worked in the oilfields. My father
also did welding and mechanics in his garage next to our house.
It is my belief that most of the residents moved to Kermit,
Texas. My mother, sister and I left Texas and moved to live
with my grandfather, Elmer Elsworth & Lulu May Kahler Hartzell in
Orting, Pierce County, Washington in 1935. God Bless. - Sincerely,
Brian R. Jack, Fort Worth TX, May 06, 2006
My mother, Mary (Vandervort) Hensley, lived in Best as a girl. Her
father worked in the oil fields. Her youngest sister, Rhea, was
born in Best. My mother passed away on April 30 at the age of 91.
I visited Best with my mom a few years ago, and the photos you have
online are exactly what I saw then. I thought Mom told me that the
stone structure was the jail. She pointed out the hill where the
town's water tank once sat. My Mom's parents were Bonnie and Emmett
Vandervort. My grandfather died of a heart attack while at work
in the oil fields in the 40's and my grandmother eventually moved
to Los Angeles. I've heard a few stories about the wild town that
Best was. There was a newspaper article about the Wild West town
of Best, but I have lost track of it. I've heard that my grandmother
made bootleg alcohol and also ran a small grocery store for a time.
Some of my mom's relatives still live in San
Angelo and her oldest sister Vanatta was married in the old
Cactus Hotel. Just sharing a few little tidbits that I recall. Thank
you. - Charlene Hensley, May 11, 2006
1940s map showing Best,
ghost towns Texon,
and Big Lake
the county seat
state map #4335
Courtesy Texas General Land Office
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic
photos, please contact