|History in a Pecan
The town got its start in the mid 1890s when rancher S. G. Umbarger
leased land here from the railroad
(the Houston and Great Northern). He liked it so much he bought it two years later
and opened several business to cater to freshly arrived settlers.
and Santa Fe Railway established a switch
near Umbarger’s ranch in 1898. Umbarger (the man) sold out and moved away to Canyon,
Texas, but since that was a mere 10 miles away, his name remained solidly
In 1902 a small group of German Catholics transmigrated from
Fayette County, adding much-needed
growth. A general store/ post office opened and a school district was established
Between 1902 and 1910 Father Joseph Reisdorff, a Catholic missionary,
worked hard to attract other German Catholic settlers. Friction developed between
Father Reisdorff and John Hutson, another town founder and as a result, the town
had two separate Catholic churches built. The population was bolstered somewhat
by Swiss immigrants who settled here from 1911 through the 1920s but the town
remained under-populated. From 18 residents in 1920, and only 80 by 1930, it reached
150 on the eve of WWII.
town's proximity to Canyon and Amarillo
may have helped Umbarger survive, but it may also have affected its growth. The
1984 population was given as 327 – the same number used on the 2008 state map.
Mary's Catholic Church in Umbarger
at the St Mary's
church in Umbarger was so kind to show me around the church and explain the
work done by the Italian Prisoners. In the large painting behind the altar was
an angel. The artist, from his memory of his wife, painted her face on the angel.
Years later after the war the artist brought his family back and she was able
to see her face on the angel. - Barclay
Gibson, January 25, 2009
Visit nearby Italian
POW Camp Chapel 3 1/2 Miles S of Hereford
of WWII Italian POWs and
priests in Umbarger displayed in the church.
Photo courtesy Barclay
Gibson, December 2008||