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TEE PEE CITY, TEXAS

Motley County, Texas Panhandle
US 62/70
Marker is on Roadside Park 10 miles east of Matador
Motley County Tx Welcome Sign
Welcome to Motley County
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009

History in a Pecan Shell

Originally a trading post for buffalo hunters and anyone foolish enough to be traveling this desolate region, Tee Pee City came into being in the mid 1870s and was named for the numerous lodge poles left by former inhabitants.

Storekeepers Charles Rath and Lee Reynolds imported wares from distant Dodge City, Kansas, but soon went in search of greener prairies and cash-paying customers. They left the store in the care of Isaac Armstrong, a man who must’ve enjoyed his duties running the one-room hotel and saloon since he spent the rest of his life there. (He died in 1884 and was buried nearby.)

As the buffalo herds were wiped out, the hunters moved on, spelling the end of hunter-tourism in capital letters. Civilization appeared in 1879 with the arrival of the Cooper and Field families. The Coopers ran a dugout that served a general store and post office for the few inhabitants.

A school was in operation from the mid 1890s through 1902 but misbehavior by the uncivilized element drove most earnest settlers on. The post office closed it’s doors in 1900 and Tee Pee City was visited by the Texas Rangers on the numerous occasions when things got out of hand and / or the wrong people were robbed.

The nearby Matador Ranch made the town off-limits to its employees and actually ended the town’s wild and woolly existence by buying the property. Today only the graves of the Cooper family and Isaac Armstrong remain, along with a lone Texas Centennial marker.

More on Tee Pee City
Rawhides: Business in Wild and Woolly Tee Pee City
Tee Pee City Centennial Marker
Tee Pee City Historical Marker
Motley County Tx - Tee Pee City Historical Markers
Motley County Tx - Tee Pee City Markers
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009
Related Story

Rawhides: Business in Wild and Woolly Tee Pee City

by Mike Cox

A buffalo wasn’t the only critter that could get skinned on the High Plains if he wasn’t careful.

In 1877, when the Panhandle still teemed with hundreds of thousands of shaggy-haired bison, a young traveling salesman checked in with his home office at Galveston by telegraph from Henrietta. He worked for Leon and H. Blum, then the Southwest’s largest wholesaler of staple and dry goods.

“They directed me to proceed to Tee Pee City in Motley County to collect an account against Armstrong, who operated a general store [there],” the one-time salesman later recalled.

Founded in 1875 as a buffalo hunter camp on the site of an old Comanche village on the east side of Tee Pee Creek where it enters the middle fork of the Pease River... more
Motley County Tx - Tee Pee City Centennial  Marker
Tee Pee City Centennial Marker
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009
More Texas Centennial Markers
Motley County Tx - Tee Pee City Historical Marker
Tee Pee City Historical Marker
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009
Historical Marker Text

Tee Pee City

Tee Pee City At the junction of the Middle Pease River and Tee Pee Creek (8 mi. NNE), is the site of Tee Pee City. In the 1870s, traders established an outpost there to take advantage of the area's buffalo hide trade. The small community of picket houses and tents derived its name from abandoned tipi (tee pee) poles found along the creek.

Charles Rath, an important figure in West Texas history, was among the partners in the original operation that resulted in the formation of the settlement, bringing in wagons, cattle, mules and dance hall equipment. Rath then continued south to establish his headquarters on the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos, leaving management of the Tee Pee City camp to others.

An 1877 account of the settlement identified one or two saloons, a dance hall, gambling hall and two-room hotel, as well as other businesses. The 1880 census listed 12 residents.

The R.V. Fields and A.B. Cooper families arrived in 1879, the same year Tee Pee City's post office opened. By then, few buffalo remained in the area. Hunters had killed thousands, nearly depleting the southern herd. Cooper freighted supplies and ran a general store out of a dugout. The community supported a post office (1879-1900), as well as a school (1895-1902), but Tee Pee City was best known for its rowdiness, brawls and shootings, which warranted the attention of G.W. Arrington's Texas Rangers.

In 1904, the Matador Land and Cattle Company bought the land and closed down the saloon, which had been off limits to Matador employees due to its wild reputation. A 1936 state monument placed at the townsite was moved here in 2002. Little remains at the original site, now on private land.

(2002)
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009
Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic photos of their town, please contact us.

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