a Pecan Shell
Briefly known as
Stemmons, Texas, Chicago was first named in jest after the
landowner’s hometown. The irony was that this Chicago had virtually
no population compared to the “City of Big Shoulders.” But a post
office for area ranches did open in 1889, and the postal authorities
recognized the name, whimsical or not.
A settlement did develop, necessitating a move of the post office
in 1904. The joke was getting stale by that time and so the name was
changed to Stemmons, after the surname of a ranch foreman.
When Dawson County
was organized, the two contenders for county seat were Stemmons and
Lamesa. Stemmons had
been ordered to close their post office, but in order to give the
community a fair shot and not influence the election, postal authorities
allowed the two post offices to exist until after the 1905 election.
Lamesa won by a mere
The Stemmons post office closed and the offer of help in relocation
businesses was taken up by Stemmons residents. In the span of a few
days in July of 1905, the community of Chicago / Stemmons became a
Chicago is remembered today by a historical marker and a Lamesa
street named after the short-lived town.
Lamesa, a city mostly
set up on a grid of numbered streets and avenues does have a few streets
named after cities. The mix is an interesting one, including Akron,
Boston, Detroit, Flint, and Hartford – and of course, Chicago.
Chicago" historical marker
NE corner of FM 2592 and North 22nd St, Lamesa
Photo courtesy Barclay
Gibson, April 2009
| Historical marker:
Site of Chicago
W.C. Bishop of
Chicago, Illinois, and wealthy lumberman George N. Fletcher established
the Oto (later Bar To) ranch about 1887 on Fletcher's extensive landholdings
in Dawson County.
A post office was opened at the ranch headquarters on May 15,1889,
and named Chicago, both in honor of Bishop's home town and in humorous
reference to the sparse population of the area. The postal facility
served other large ranches in this vicinity, such as C. C. Slaughter's
In the 1890s, Fletcher left the ranching venture, and A. F. Crowley
and W. H. Godair became Bishop's partners. By that time, a village
had begun to grow up around the post office. B. A. Oden served as
Oto ranch foreman and Postmaster of Chicago from 1894 to 1903. When
Walter Stemmons replaced him in both positions in 1904, the settlement
was renamed Stemmons. The same year, a post office was established
in the new town of Lamesa,
two miles south of Chicago.
Dawson County was
organized in 1905, and both towns entered the contest for county seat.
When Lamesa won, residents
of Chicago quickly relocated their homes and businesses there. The
school and Baptist and Methodist churches also moved to Lamesa,
within days, the Community of Chicago has disappeared.
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories,
landmarks and recent or vintage photos, please contact