| History on a Pinhead|
Espuela is a mystery. No evidence of a town appears – only the lonesome graveyard.
A tiny cross on the Dickens County TxDoT map shows the cemetery – although it
doesn’t even hint at the desolateness of the site. There was an Espuela Ranch,
so it is possible that the cemetery was a convenient interment for ranch hands
Subject: Dickens County: Espuela Ghost Town
I saw no visible
remnants of Espuela structures. - Barclay
Gibson, July 2009
1870, J. H. Parrish built a dugout on the west bank of Duck Creek a half-mile
southeast of this site. He farmed and established a small store serving travelers
and, later, cattlemen and buffalo hunters. As the last of the Native American
tribes left this area in 1876, commercial buffalo hunters moved into the region.
They left tens of thousands of buffalo carcasses in their wake. From 1879 to 1884,
this area was free range land for 30 cattle outfits. The Espuela Land & Cattle
Company purchased most of the free lands and 20 sections of public domain territory
from the state, fencing 569,120 acres. The company purchased most of the free
range cattle, and located their headquarters about two miles west of what became
the Espuela townsite.
By the mid-1880s, the community that had begun with
Parrish's small store was the largest in the county. Parrish platted the town
and became its first postmaster in 1883. A one-room schoolhouse replaced a dugout
already in use by the children and their teacher. Dickens County was created that
year, and Espuela became first the temporary and then the permanent county seat.
In summer 1891 the town boasted a gristmill, blacksmith shop, several stores,
a hotel, a bootmaker, a saloon, a newspaper, civic organizations and a cotton
gin. Neither a courthouse nor a jail were ever erected. On March 8, 1892, another
election was held because of boundary issues surrounding Espuela, and Dickens
was voted the county seat.
Though many settlers and businesses moved on,
the town of Espuela survived as long as the Land & Cattle Company existed. In
1905, the company sold the Spur
Ranch near this site to E. P. and S. A. Swenson. The post office moved to the
new town of Spur
in 1910. All that remains of the town of Espuela is the cemetery.