offers county talesby
of the Texas Panhandle
book titled "Presenting the Texas Panhandle" by Lan-Bea Publications in 1979 provides
many interesting facts about the Texas
counties of the Texas Panhandle
were originally drawn in a "paper survey" by politicians in Austin
laying a ruler on a Texas map, starting on the east with the 100th Meridian and
drawing lines every thirty miles in every direction." The
town of Panhandle was
first named Panhandle City. Childress
was first named Childress City, barely beating out a town named Henry for county
seat. The census
taker for the 1880 census count in today's Collingsworth County rode horseback
for nine days trying to find six young cowboys, the only residents for the vast
open prairie area. During
an election in Collingsworth County, only after "the whiskey flowed generously"
did the name of Wellington
beat out the name of Aberdeen for county seat.Dalhart
was once named Denrock, Twist and Twist Junction in its earliest days.Texline
once boasted, "It is the biggest and best and the fastest and hardest and the
busiest and wildest and roughest and toughest town in this section of the Panhandle."
County and Hereford boast
"one of the
few marble courthouses in the South." Ayr
(pronounced: air) was the first county seat and chosen because of the constant
wind blowing. The Deaf in the name came from a Texas independence war hero named
Erastus Smith who was partly deaf. Escarbada,
a Spanish word for "scrapings," was one of the famed XIT
Ranch Divisions located on a Comanche Indian trade route. Water could be found
by digging into the sands. In
Oldham County the name of Vega, meaning
"grassy plot" in Spanish, was chosen over the name of Gusben for county seat.
County a tax rate of $20 per mile of barbed
wire fence was adopted. It was argued whether the rate was to generate money
for the county or to discourage building fences. In
Moore County, home of today's Dumas,
a petition was presented with 150 citizen signatures to form the new county in
spite of the 1880 census listing only 15 citizens living in the area. The petition
was not preserved in modern county records. In
Gray County the first country school was called High Windy as high winds scattered
the stacked lumber across the prairie before it could be used for a school. The
first cemetery in Gray County was Eldridge
established on McClellan Creek in 1878. The location was chosen because the spot
contained soft sand instead of hard caliche. That made for much easier digging
County is truly an early day crossroads area as 10 pioneer trails cross the lands:
The Glazier-Ochiltree Trail, the Canadian-Hogtown Trail, the Jones-Plummer Trail,
the Rath Trail, the Military & Stageline Trail, the Gregg Trail, the Canadian
River Trail, the Tuttle Trail, and the Marcy or California Gold Trail.Various
county and school records reveal most county buildings and early school buildings
burned or were destroyed by tornado at least once during their use. Most fires
were blamed on faulty or rusted out stove pipes on the wood stoves used for heating.
The tornadoes were something else.
4 , 2010 Column © Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew"
Trew is a freelance writer and retired rancher. He can be reached at 806-779-3164,
by mail at Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
For books see DelbertTrew.com. His column appears weekly.
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