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
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.
(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.
first merchant of O'Donnell, 1911
Photo Courtesy Pamela Mathiasen
The First automatic Gin in North America
Courtesy of Charles Thompson
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
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
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
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
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
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