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Lynn County, Texas Panhandle / West Texas

32°57'49"N 101°49'58"W (32.9637085 -101.8326542)
Highway 87
Just North of the Dawson County line
Halfway between Lamesa and Tahoka
45 miles S of Lubbock
Population: 831 (2010) 1,011 (2000) 1,102 (1990)

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O'Donnell Texas Dan Blocker Museum Sign
"Road sign in O’Donnell, Texas, advertising the Dan Blocker Museum. Just south of Lubbock this sign is difficult to miss or ignore. After driving through the mid-summer greened, hyper-corrected kaleidoscope of cotton crop rows for close to an hour it is impossible not to notice this television icon hanging on the side of what seems to be an abandoned cotton gin." - Byron Browne, July 2007 photo
History in a Pecan shell

O'Donnell has no 19th Century history to speak of. It became a stop on the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railroad in 1908 and like many railroad towns, was named after a railroad official.

Historical Marker (on SE corner of Doak and 8th streets) :


Named for Tom J. O'Donnell, promoter of South Plains Railroads, including 60 miles of Santa Fe Line from Slaton to Lamesa. On this new railroad (important as freight hauler) town of O'Donnell was founded in 1909 by H. E. Baldridge and Charles H. Doak-- two of the organizers and first officials of Lynn County.

Doak built a hotel in projected town of O'Donnell in 1909. L. G. Phillips established the first store. On July 4, 1910, a big picnic was held to celebrate arrival of first Santa Fe train. Old "Central" post office (previously on Dee W. Harris Ranch, 5.5 mi. NW) was moved to new town in 1910 and was officially renamed O'Donnell on Feb. 7, 1911. W. R. Standefer was employed to survey townsite in 1911.

H. E. Baldridge offered free building lots to churches. A Methodist church was organized in 1911; Church of Christ and Presbyterian churches in 1912; First Baptist in 1914.

Town was incorporated in 1923, with W. R. Sanderson as first mayor. School, improved dramatically since its early wooden building, serves a large area. A graduate is actor Dan Blocker ("Hoss" Cartwright).

Now a dry land farming center, O'Donnell in 1961 had what was then the largest cotton gin in the world, ginning 21,000 bales of cotton during that year.
LG Phillips general store, McDonnell, Texas
L.G. Phillips, first merchant of O'Donnell, 1911
Photo Courtesy Pamela Mathiasen
O'Donnell Texas Farmer's Co-Op Gin
Farmer's Co-Op Gin
The First automatic Gin in North America
Photo Courtesy of Charles Thompson

O'Donnell Attractions

A statue of Dan Blocker, a member of the Cartwright Clan on television's Bonanza, stands in the park downtown. The town also features Blockerbilia in an exhibit in the O'Donnell Museum - right across the street from the statue.

O'Donnell was lucky to have such a son represent them - even though Nevada took the credit.

Chamber of Commerce: (City Hall) 806-428-3239
O'Donnell Texas Dan Blocker Museum
"The Dan Blocker Museum in O’Donnell, Texas. A misnomer. As the curator informed me it is not solely the Dan Blocker museum but rather there is simply a Dan Blocker area to the museum of artifacts which came from the “attics and backyards” of locals dating back to the 19th century. If you wish to pay the “Gentle Giant” respects, you’ll need to travel to Dekalb, Texas - that is where he was both born and buried."
- - Byron Browne, July 2007 photo

Related Articles

  • Mighty Hoss by Archie McDonald, Ph.D

  • Ten Things You Never Knew About "Hoss" Cartwright by John Troesser

  • Three Photos from "O'Donnell Year Book 1966"
    (Contributed by Mr. Charles Thompson, Class of 1970)

  • O'Donnell Texas Forum

  • O'Donnell, Texas or "Let us know if there's a change in Mr. Looney's condition."

    I was sitting in a remote beach bar in "Old Mexico" (We called it "Old Mexico" due to our proximity to "New Mexico" lest anyone become confused). Over a margarita, I struck up a conversation with an ex-O'Donneller... O'Donnellite... whatever. He asked me if I knew O'Donnell, and of course, anyone worth their salt from West Texas knows O'Donnell equals Dan Blocker, not to mention the old silo visible from the hi-way.

    My experience with O'Donnell began with a chance meeting with one of Texas finest, who stopped me just to say hello...and give me a ticket for going 85 mph. That chance meeting provided me with the phone number of the Justice of the Peace there in town. About a week later, I dutifully called the Judge from Lamesa during a gasoline stop to find out how to get to his office. He gave the standard West Texas directions that involved THE silo, the gin, a fork in the road and the local bank. I could have just mailed in my fine, but I have learned to never pass up an opportunity to meet West Texans on their home turf. Therefore, I decided to contest my ticket, even though I was guilty as sin.

    I explained my situation to the Judge, and he pointed out that I would, of course, need to take my case to the highest court in the county "up at Tahoka". We talked for the better part of an hour and a half and bonded as only West Texans can do in such a short period of time. As I was leaving, he called out to me with what has become a well-worn family quote about people we don't know.

    He asked "Don't you live up at Lubbock?"

    "Yes, sir. I do" I said.

    "Do you know a feller up there by the name of Charlie Looney?"

    "No, sir." I responded. "I don't think I do. What does Mr. Looney do up at Lubbock?"

    After a thoughtful pause he responded "Well...right now...he's dead."

    I suspected that perhaps Charlie might someday get a better deal, but just not...right now. - H. Legg, Somewhere in West Texas, August 16, 2006

  • Subject: O'Donnell Texas
    Just a note to say how pleased we were to see the old mercantile store owned by LG Phillips in your article about O'Donnell, Texas. LG was my husband's great grandfather and this coming weekend, here in Redmond, Oregon, we are having the great Phillips Family Reunion. There will be over 200 there, from all parts of the country. We have lots of old photos to share, and stories to tell. Thanks! - Susan & Roger Phillips, June 26, 2006

  • "O'Donnell was the first town to have a fully automatic cotton gin in North America. The Farmer's Coop owned the cotton gin but I don't remember the date it became automated. I believe it was the early to mid 60's.

    The Old Blocker Grocery Store was in the middle of the West side of center square. I remember when I was young that someone broke into the Blocker Store and took off with the safe. If you go to the museum you will get more information in an hour than you can put on a computer in a day.

    Did you know that Bobby Dan Blocker was an English major? That is one of the things that got him an acting job. He also had hands that were three times larger than mine. For a long time Dan would come to O'Donnell for the Rodeo, and I remember once he flew into Lubbock and drove into town in the brightest red Mustang you had ever seen. This was funny because Bonanza's sponsor was Chevrolet." - Charles Thompson (Mr. OHS 1970)

    Our thanks to Mr. Charles. Thompson for recommending O'Donnell, Texas. Our additional thanks for writing back to include the type of little things we live to know

    Our thanks to Ms Pamela Mathiasen for the vintage photo from her family archives. For more information on L.G. Phillips, the first merchant of O'Donnell, please go to http://www.rootsweb.com/~txlynn/lg_phillips.htm

    Anyone having details about the infamous Blocker Store burglary let us know. It seems we once heard something amusing about it falling off the back of the thief's truck. Contact us.

  • Take a road trip

    O"Donnell, Texas Nearby Towns:
    Lamesa | Tahoka | Lubbock
    See Texas Panhandle | West Texas

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