is here thanks to former resident, Barbara Kipgen, who wrote us. Her
letter follows the brief history.
History in a Pecan Shell
Hovey is another of the many Texas towns that is named after a railroad
official. In this case it was the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway,
the year was 1913 and the official was G.B. Hovey. They got their
post office the same year, but it was closed by the 1930s.
Hovey only had an estimated 25 residents and one business in the early
We were unable to find it on the TxDoT County Map for Brewster
County. Barbara explains that the reason
for this is that the entire townsite is now on private property and
is not accessible. The good news is that the Hovey
School - the town's pride - is permanently on display on the Fort
Hovey contained a depot, post office/general store"
Photo courtesy Erik
Whetstone, April 2006
Schoolhouse shortly after becoming a Texas Historic Landmark
Photo Courtesy Barbara Kipgen
addition to sending us the photo of the Hovey
School House, Barbara Kipgen included a description of life on
a West Texas ranch. Her mother Edith and Grandmother Lilah Smith are
both shown in the photo shortly after the school was dedicated a Texas
Historic Landmark. - editor
LIFE IN BREWSTER COUNTY
the yard was the easy part
A typical day of Lilah Smith and Edith Kipgen
As told by themselves and Barbara Kipgen
women have recorded on paper a lot of their experiences on the ranch
back in the 30s and 40s. Lilah, doing spring house cleaning [which
included] carrying all the mattresses out into a day's sun; washing/
drying all the sheets, etc. and then getting side-tracked by two kids
who had "horse trouble." After spending hours finding and retrieving
the horse [she came back to] a mess because a rain/wind storm had
wiped out the morning's work.
When Edith was about 10 years old, she began helping her father with
ranch work. In her teens, she "broke" and trained about
20 young horses for a neighboring rancher over a six year period.
Living on a large ranch in those days was not easy. Everything was
done the old pioneer way. Although there were cars and trucks - the
work was done with horses and wagons. We cooked with a wood fire and
had no running water. The water was hauled in barrels on a wagon pulled
by mules. We dipped buckets of water and carried them into the house.
We had no electricity.
We lived in a clean 4-room house with a fence. The yard was dirt with
no grass or shrubs since there was no way to water them. It was swept
with a broom about once a week.
Lilah was a schoolteacher before marrying my grandfather, in Corsicana,
Texas. She really missed the trees and vegetation when they first
moved to what was the E.L. Ranch in the early 30s.
There was one scraggly mesquite tree near our bedroom window. At first
it was ugly and I wanted it dug up and moved out. No one had time
to do that. As time went by, I loved that old tree. It was the only
living plant in that yard and it became beautiful.
Continued next page - The
bunkhouse and railroads
Your recent feature about Hovey, Texas contained a photo identified
as possibly a railroad depot. It also noted that the railroad was
originally the Kansas City, Mexico, and the Orient which I believe
was taken over by the Atchinson, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railroad around
The structure in the photo is more likely a "bunkhouse" for the railroad's
maintenance of way employees. Note the multiple doors and chimneys,
somewhat like a motel. Similar structures can be found in Odell,
Texas and Maryneal,
Texas that I am aware of and the line was originally part of the
KCMO railroad. There are probably more locations. My family stayed
in both while my father was employed with ATSF in the early 1950s.
The bunkhouses in Odell
& Maryneal were
about twice the size of the one in Hovey and had the "L" shaped, two-room
unit at each end. These were intended for workers with families. The
walls were constructed of poured concrete and originally had a clay
tiled roof. I do not know if the bunkhouses were built by the KCMO
or ATSF railroad. I regret that I do not have a photo available but
I appreciate your good work. - Billy Gilbert, Denton,
Texas, February 10, 2018
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
site for Hovey, Texas sponsored by: Barbara Kipgen