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Letters from Former Toyahns
and Toyah Visitors

Toyah, Texas

Toyah High school alumni reunion

Toyah High School Alumni Reunion

"Three ladies who live in California and were members of the Toyah High Class of 194l organized a school reunion held in October, 1991 (it was their 50th reunion). This is a picture of the alumni who attended from all over the United States. I am wearing my white letterman sweater with large T (in the first row). We were the Toyah Buffaloes." - Courtesy Jesse L. Moore, Jr.

  • Letters and Photos from Jesse L. Moore, Jr.

    March 12, 2002
    I was born in Woodlawn, Texas (just north of Marshall) on February 29, 1928. My Dad, Mother, Sister & I moved to Toyah in 1932. My brother Watson was born in Pecos. I see that he sent you an e-mail last year after I told him about your web-site. Watson retired last year as Controller at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene and he and his wife live on a ranch near Roby, Texas.

    Our mother played third base on the Toyah Women's PTA baseball team. She is kneeling to the very right in the first row. They played teams from Big Springs to Sierra Blanca and at towns in between.

    This is a quote from "Toyah Taproots."

    "On September 14, 1896, the Reeves County Grand Jury indicted J. B. Miller, charging him with the murder of Sheriff G. A. Frazer, that he, with malice aforethought, did kill G. A. Frazer with two shots from a shotgun."

    The story goes on for almost two pages and includes this "at any rate, a lynch party took over, and Jim Miller was hanged." This is found on pages 46-47 of Toyah Taproots.

    On page 49 is a picture of Miss Ella Frazer, sister to Sheriff Bud Frazer. "It was said that when her brother was killed by Jim Miller, Ella Frazer rode with the posse that went after Miller." - Jesse L. Moore, Jr. Centennial, Colorado


    March 12, 2002
    In October, 1991, my letter sweater was 47 years old and a little tight. I have recently passed my 74th birthday. - Jesse L. Moore, Jr. Centennial, Colorado


  • I love your web-site for Toyah, Texas. I spent most of my summers growing up in Toyah.. By the time I came around, the school had already closed, and the town would already be considered a ghost town. My father grew up and graduated from Toyah in the late 60's. My grandfather ranched and farmed just south of town up until his death a few years ago.

    I have many great boyhood memories of exploring the old buildings around town after the chores were done. I still have many of the cool artifacts I found while searching old home sites. I believe the building which sits south of the interstate and has "Bar and Grill" on the front is a remnant prop building for an old movie that was filmed in the area. The movie is called "Fandango" and I was told the Toyah gym was used as the setting for the scene of a dance in the movie. I would appreciate confirmation, but that seems to be born out in watching the movie.

    One thing that troubles me about Toyah is that for the whole town, there is only one historical marker with just the most general information concerning the town. Each of the sites photographed and mentioned deserves recognition, and that is something that I'd like to help change. - Brad Gibson, Midland, Texas, May 07, 2002

  • I would love to get more information on Toyah, Texas from the late 1800's to mid 1900's. My grandmother Margie Lee Holmes(Brady) was born there in 1904 to J.F. and Josephine Holmes. Any information would be much appreciated! - Alison Sargent, Email : ajsargent@aol.com 20/Apr/2002

  • ..... I was born in Toyah on Feb. 29,1928. I grew up there and went to school there, my father was a car inspector for the T&P railroad. When I was 14 years old I got my first job as a dishwasher at the Toyah cafe, working the night shift from 11:00 p.m. untill 7:00 a.m. for one dollar a day. Then at the age of 16 I went to work for the T&P railroad on the section gang working for J.B. Tolson track forman. When I turned 17 I left school and went into the Air Force. where I spent the next 3 years. when I was discharged I went back to school and got my high school deploma. ..... I will keep looking for things that might help you with this web pages. Keep up the good work. I hope more people from my period in Toyah get involved and we can get some e-mail addresses of people we have lost contact with over the years. You may put my e-mail on your web page if you like. maby i will hear from some of my old friends from home. Yours Truly George Hawthorne, May 06, 2001
    E-mail address: grhaw@lakenet.com

  • I RECIEVED YOUR WEB PAGE TODAY FROM A FRIEND OF MINE IN COLORADO WHO WAS BORN AND RAISED IN TOYAH. ALSO WE WERE BORN ON THE SAME DAY. FEB. 29, 1928 AND BOTH LIVED THERE UNTIL WE WENT IN THE SERVICE ABOUT 1946. IF YOU WOULD LIKE SOME HISTORY ABOUT TOYAH PLEASE LET ME KNOW. I WOULD LIKE TO GIVE YOU ALL THE HELP I CAN. - THANK YOU. GEORGE HAWTHORNE. April 07, 2001

  • I'm the other half of the "Leap Year" guys. You have already heard from George Hawthorne. I lived in Toyah from 1932 through 1945 and went all through elementary and high school there. My father was District Roadmaster with the Texas & Pacific Railway. TOYAH TAPROOTS was copyrighted and published in 1984 by Nortex Press, a Division of Eakin Publications, Inc., in Austin, Texas. This book was compiled by The Toyah Historical & Centennial Committee. I found your Web site and sent to George. Really appreciate what you are doing. More later! - Jesse L, Moore, Jr. April 08, 2001

  • The picture of the building as "school" is actually an old hotel on the top and a mercantile store below. The picture of the "High School" is an El-Hi school. I attended grades 1-4 here and my brother 1-12. I lived in Toyah from 1936 to 1946. My father was J.L. Moore the District Roadmaster for the Texas & Pacific RR.

    (Texas Escapes) is a great idea. Keep up the good work. - W. Moore, April 10, 2001

  • I graduated from Toyah High School, class of 1952. John Billieter and I were the only two seniors that year. My Dad (L.E. Adams) had a grocery store and a dry goods store on the east end of the building that is shown on main st., the rest of the building was hotel rooms. I think that is correct! This building on main st. is not the school. - Alvin R. Adams, April 21, 2001


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    Growing up in Toyah
    Letters from John A. Taylor, Class of 1967

  • Saturday, February 03, 2001

    I found the site of Toyah today and it was a little sad to see the state of the places where I once worked, played and went to school.

    The picture you identified as a school was actually our community center and Mr. Thompson's barber shop.

    The old school that was two story was built in 1912 but in the 60's it was our gym, because the second story floor was torn out and the basketball court was put in. I went to school there from 1961-1967.

    One time there were 7 saloons and an Air Force base located there. While I was growing up The old hotel was in use by the railroad people because Toyah was used as a roundhouse for the passenger trains in those days.

    The old town is about gone but my fond memories of this great town will never die. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting this site on the net. - John A. Taylor Class of 1967


  • Sunday, February 04, 2001

    I would like to share some information about a picture that Mr. Thompson, our town barber had in his shop. The story about this picture was told to me and the other young boys who would go to the barber shop. Mr. Thompson had a very old picture of three men that where hanged in a barn by the neck and there was a small boy and his dog looking in. This was a real picture of a hanging and Mr. Thompson told us that these men were in a poker game with the local sheriff in Toyah at the old hotel and they were cheating and there was gunplay and the sheriff was killed. The three men were caught in New Mexico and were hanged for murder.

  • When I lived there the Scott Hotel was still operating with the owners Kenneth Scott and his mother, she was in her 90's at the time in 1961. The old hotel was still the same as it was in the 1880's and the railroad conductors would stay there until the train returned to change personnel. Toyah was the Roundhouse, as they called it, because those conductors from Big Spring, Texas would get off at Toyah and the conductors from El Paso would take the train from Toyah to El Paso and on the return the Big Spring conductors would take the train from Toyah to Big Spring.

    I attended school there from my 7th to 12th grade and we had 4 people in our senior class. We played 6 man football, basketball, tennis and track for the Toyah Buffaloes and our school colors were black and white. There were 8 classrooms in the whole school for grades 1-12. Our classes had one teacher which had two grade levels in it and they would teach one level and then the next.

    I am a school teacher/coach and owe alot to the education that I received at Toyah I.S.D. Somewhere around 1970 the Supreme Court of Texas ruled in favor of Pecos I.S.D for taking over Toyah school. Toyah School Board and citizens fought for 7 years to keep their school but lost in the court ruling. Now that the school was no longer in Toyah, the lifeblood of this once great western town died because the youth was taken away to another town. I will find some pictures and send them. - John A. Taylor


    Book Hotel Here
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    Letters from Toyah visitors

  • Saturday, January 12, 2002
    I stumbled across your excellent web site, which includes a section of several pages on Toyah. I am from Ohio, but I first visited Toyah back in 1974 while traveling down interstate 20/10 from Cleveland to Tucson. I discovered the Fina truck stop at the freeway exit. It was a wonderful place, albeit rustic. They had the best chili on the entire length of I-20 and I-10 across West Texas. The proprietor often was seated right in the restaurant, wearing a white cowboy hat. Little wooden games where you were supposed to remove the pegs were installed at every table. I think that they cleaned the bathrooms at least once a year, but the food was wonderful.

    Once I started stopping in Toyah, I returned every year for another bowl of chili. One year I took a little drive around town and discovered all of the old abandoned buildings that are on your web site. There is no publicity at all that Toyah is pretty much a ghost town, but it was clear to see that is is when you wandered around. One year the front door was open at the school, and so I wandered in. One of the letter writers on your web site pointed out that the school was mainly a gym, and he was right. I have a picture around someplace of the Toyah basketball arena, which was the "school." In subsequent years somebody boarded up the front door, as is shown on your web site, and thus you can't see the Toyah basketball floor anymore.

    In 1998 or 1999 I stopped in Toyah as usual on the way to Tucson, and I was very sad to find that the truck stop had gone out of business. I stopped at a tavern/restaurant next door, that seemed to be the only business in Toyah. They also had chili, but it was a highly inferior version compared to the old truck stop. It even had beans. Ugh. It seemed clear to me that a new modern expanded truck stop in Pecos had run the Toyah truck stop out of business. I have eaten at the Pecos truck stop, and they should be ashamed of their chili. But, I guess truck drivers are looking for something other than chili nowadays. They should also be ashamed of themselves.

    The Toyah truck stop sold a book about the history of Toyah in a maroon binding that looked like a high school yearbook. It apparently was produced on the occasion of some local historical date. It was called Toyah Taproots, and I still have my copy of this book.

    I haven't been to Toyah since 1999, but I was extremely happy to see your web site memorial. I always thought that Toyah was the most entertaining town west of the Pecos in Texas, although that may not be saying much, and John Madden may disagree, given his fascination with Van Horn.

    Toyah has the additional distinction as the first place where you get a decent view of the mountains while driving westbound on I-20. This is a welcome site after about 1,000 miles of flat desert east of Toyah. The main other place of distinction on this route between Texarkana and El Paso is Thurber, another town that has fortunately made your web site. Thurber still has two restaurants, including the New York Hill one that you discuss on the site. There is a second restaurant in a much more historic brick building right in the center of the old town. This restaurant used to occupy another historic building right at the freeway exit with a gas station, but one year I found that it had unfortunately burned down, leading to the relocation. There are historical pictures in both restaurants. Quite a bit of the ruins of Thurber can still be seen.

    Maybe a perspective like mine from somebody who never lived in Thurber or Toyah might be of some interest to you. - George Zeller, Cleveland, Ohio


  • Saturday, February 02, 2002
    Subject: Oh Boy!!!! Loved this !!!!!!

    Hello, What a welcome site this was!!!!! Being an over the road truckdriver with my husband--I have the opportunity to travel through several of the towns ( or used to be towns) in West Texas. Being from Indiana--these places have been a source of fascination and stimulation to my imagination while driving thru Texas from Texarkana to El Paso. Without these places on the way--I am afraid I would end up with the rattlesnakes out of sheer boredom!!

    I just read the site on Toyah, Texas--Fascinating--now I want to know more and will surely be a regular to this site to see if anyone has added anything. It broke my heart when Rose's Desert Cafe closed--best hamburgers and her homemade potato salad was wonderful--sorry i never tried the chili--but I did have the pleasure of eating the chili at the old truckstop!!

    At the present time--the highlight of my trip west is to watch for the 3 wild baby pigs at the milemarker 23 --they are hanging out between the picnic area and town. My next quest, is to find out the story of the old building on I-20 that stands alone on the south side of the interstate--It has a sign that says "Bar and Grill" on the front and one old out building sitting to the southwest of it. The mile marker escapes me at this time but I will get it on my return to El Paso this week and post it to see if anyone can enlighten me. Until the next time--take care and keep up the great work. Sincerely, Kathy Price, Ossian, Indiana


  • Back to Toyah, Texas

    Toyah, Texas Topics:

    The Toyah Experience
  • Toyah Revisited - "capturing the story"
    Photos by Stephen Michaels.
    Captions "The Deserted Village" by Oliver Goldsmith
  • Jason Penney's 2000 Observations
  • "Groovers 71" by Robert Hunt

    Toyah Chronicles

  • Toyah History
  • Mesquite Thorn
  • Toyah Letters
  • Toyah Churches

    Toyah Old News
  • Ignacy Paderewski and Amelia Earhart in Toyah
  • Train wreck near Toyah on New Year's Day 1947

    Where to Stay
    Pecos Hotels
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