in a Pecan Shell
Named for a former Confederate officer and Texas politician, the town began 1885
and a post office opened in September of the following year. Three years later
when the county was organized, Ochiltree was designated the county seat. By 1915
the population was a substantial 500 and the town had three churches, a school,
bank and two newspapers.
In late 1909, the Enid, Ochiltree and Western
Railroad attempted to connect Ochiltree with Dalhart,
but the underfunded enterprise laid less than fourteen miles of track before bankruptcy.
Ten years later the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railway succeeded where the EOW failed,
but they bypassed Ochiltree. The same year of 1919 saw the establishment of Perryton
- eight miles north. Perryton became the new
county seat and in a story familiar to Panhandle residents, houses and businesses
were moved to the new town, making Ochiltree a virtual ghost. When the post office
closed its doors in 1921, it became official.
Ochiltree's rise and fall
has an uncanny resemblance to the history of Emma, Texas.
Both towns had healthy populations, both were county seats, both were bypassed
by the railroad, both lost out to newly formed communities and both became ghosts.
The old Ochiltree cemetery remains - facing Highway 70.
The Ochiltree is a nice, very well tended Cemetery. - Barclay
Townsite Historical Marker
Cemetery Historical Marker
County Postal Map
Ochiltree Townsite Historical Marker on Hwy 70|
Photo courtesy Barclay
Gibson, July 2009
county was created in 1876 and named for noted Texas jurist William Beck Ochiltree
(1811-1867). In 1876 it was attached for judicial purposes to Clay and later to
Wheeler County. In 1886 pioneers began to settle in dugouts here on the prairies
near Wolf Creek, saying they lived "in Ochiltree." For convenience in making land
and tax transactions, and establishing law and order, they organized the county
in 1889, making their village the county seat. First elected officials were William
J. Todd, county judge; Dave C. Kettell, sheriff and tax collector; George M. Perry,
county clerk; Myrtle L. Daily, treasurer. In 1891 a 2-story courthouse was built
(100 yards southeast) of lumber freighted from Dodge City, Kansas. This also served
as church, schoolhouse, and social hall for the town. By 1903, Ochiltree had 600
people, churches, a high school, a newspaper, bank, flour mill, and other facilities.
In 1919, the Santa Fe Railway founded a new town between Ochiltree and
Gray, Oklahoma, and induced people from both places to relocate by offering free
lots. In 1919 steam engines and heavy equipment hauled the improvements from Ochiltree
to the new site (8 miles north), called Perrytown,
in honor of veteran county official George M. Perry.
Cemetery In 1902,
Jim McLarty and J. V. Stump fenced off 90 acres for a cemetery in the town of
Ochiltree. Soon afterwards, Jim was thrown from his horse and killed, and at age
21 became the first person buried in the cemetery. In 1927 the county acquired
the deed from Mr. J. M. Blasingame; in 1930 a cemetery association was formed.
During the Depression of the 1930s an entry gate was built with help from the
Works Progress Administration. Veterans of the Civil War and Spanish
American wars, as well as World Wars
I and II and the conflicts
in Korea and Vietnam, are among the citizens buried here.
Ochiltree County postal map showing Ochiltree|
Courtesy Texas General Land Office
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