The Trail of the Living Water in the Llano Estacado of the Panhandle South Plains of northwest Texas by David Cummins for Questers May 21, 2015
Major rivers of Texas
Sabine River 360 miles in Texas, Neches River 416 miles, Trinity River 710 miles, Brazos River 840 miles, Colorado River 600 miles, Pecos River 926 miles most in New Mexico, Rio Grande River 1,250 miles, Canadian River 200 miles in Texas, Red River 600 miles in Texas.
Colorado River of Texas http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_River_(Texas) rises in southeast Dawson County near the hamlet of Midway and flows east into south Borden County and east into south Scurry County where the first dam on the Colorado creates a reservoir that is Lake J.B. Thomas that extends west into Borden County, after which the Colorado River flows south into Mitchell County near Colorado City Texas and on southeast toward central Texas and the capital Austin. Where does it rise?
Sulphur Springs Draw leaves New Mexico toward Plains Texas in Yoakum County, then to Wellman Texas in Terry County, then to Welch Texas and Lamesa Texas in Dawson County, then to Gold Creek that flows into the Colorado River in southeast Dawson County.
However, Sulphur Springs Draw continues south and converges with McKenzie Draw, Seminole Draw, Wardswell Draw and Monument Draw [all rising in New Mexico] to form Mustang Draw in Martin County that continues to the southeast and enters Beals Creek in Howard County four miles west of Big Spring Texas that flows east into the Colorado River in south Mitchell County. The next reservoir is Lake E.V. Spence immediately west of the town of Robert Lee Texas.
Thus the watershed basin from which the Colorado River of Texas rises, begins in New Mexico and extends in the Llano Estacado of West Texas through this series of Draws to flow into the Colorado River at two places, southeast Dawson County and south Mitchell County.
Captain Marcy is the man who explored West Texas and the high plains searching for the headwaters of the Canadian (1849) and Red River (1852) and Brazos and Wichita Rivers (1854) including the main fork of the Red River that runs through Palo Duro Canyon. He found the headwaters of the Red River in 1852 and published his findings Randolph Marcy, Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana in the year 1852, Texas Tech University Southwest Collection SPL22.1 M322 R312 (US Gov Doc 1853)
No fewer than 25 items in the Texas Tech Library relate to the explorations of Captain Randolph Marcy in the Southwest, following his service in the War of 1846 with Mexico and preceding his service in the Civil War in 1861. He explored the headwaters of the Canadian and the Red River and the Brazos River so he definitely traversed the South Plains and recorded the experience. His writings were studied by Colonel Ranald Mackenzie during the Red River War of 1871-1875. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randolph_B._Marcy
Captain Randolph B. Marcy lit out from Fort Smith Arkansas in his 1849 expedition to trace the course of the Canadian River. Today we know it rises in far southern Colorado on the east side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, flows south into New Mexico west of Raton, through a canyon near Springer, and then east across New Mexico forming the northern border of the Llano Estacado through the panhandle of Texas and then across Oklahoma until it empties into the Arkansas River at the Robert S. Kerr Reservoir on the Arkansas River, a total of 906 miles. Marcy traced its course in Oklahoma Territory and in Texas and some of New Mexico Territory and ended his exploration at Santa Fe [thus establishing the Marcy Trail from Fort Smith to Santa Fe] where he resupplied and then lit out across the Llano Estacado on its western border following the Pecos River southward to the edge of the Edwards Plateau at Castle Gap between the present towns of Crane and McCamey on the historic San Antonio-El Paso Road or Southern Emigrant Trail, and then locating the sandhills near Monahans and a large spring at Big Spring before turning north at the easterly escarpment of the Llano Estacado, thus circumnavigating the Llano Estacado and returning to Fort Smith. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fma43
The Canadian River was known before 1849 due to an expedition by US Army Lieutenants James William Abert and William G. Peck in 1845, and before that by an expedition by Major Stephen Long in 1820 barely making it back to Fort Smith. Long’s harrowing return, including eating the meat of their horses, and report are the source of maps referring to the Llano Estacado and beyond on the high plains as “The Great American Desert”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Harriman_Long
John Miller Morris, El Llano Estacado: Exploration and Imagination on the High Plains of Texas and New Mexico, 1536-1860 (Texas State Historical Association 1997) Lubbock Public Library 976.48 M876L Texas Tech Library F392.L63 M67
Captain Randolph B. Marcy US Army Corps of Engineers expedition of 1852 purpose was to trace the Red River of Louisiana to its source or headwaters. He was based at Fort Smith Arkansas but he started this expedition at Cache Creek near present Fort Sill Oklahoma, entered Wheeler County Texas on June 10, camped on June 12 where Fort Elliott was later located at Old Mobeetie, and entered Gray County on June 14. He camped near the present town of Lefors on June 16 at the head of the North Fork of the Red River. Marcy knew the Canadian River was to the north because he had visited it in 1849, so he traveled 25 miles north and found the Canadian, now assured that it was a distinct separate river. He returned south to the North Fork of the Red and traveled farther south to the Salt Fork of the Red River. He found a nearby stream of fresh water and named it McClellan Creek for his deputy George McClellan who would later become his son in-law and a Civil War general. A marker now exists several miles south of Pampa on Texas State Highway SH 70. On July 1 Marcy reached the main fork or Prairie Dog Fork [later named Prairie Dog Town Fork] of the Red River that flows southeast near contemporary Estelline and north of Childress where the Red River begins to form the northern boundary of Texas and southern boundary of Oklahoma, an amazing meandering river that runs from the Texas panhandle 1,222 miles before emptying into the Mississippi River [through the Atchafalaya] navigable below Shreveport Louisiana. http://www.redriverhistorian.com/maps.html
From a West Texas perspective the river system to the south of the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River is the Pease River that flows past contemporary Copper Breaks State Park and the town of Vernon and empties into the Red River. The Roaring Springs Ranch Club is at the springs that is the headwaters of the Pease River http://rsrc.org/ ]. South of that is the Wichita River that flows through Wichita Falls and empties into the Red River.
South of that is the Brazos River system that takes a southern turn and flows through central Texas to the Gulf Coast. South of that is the Colorado River that rises in Dawson County east of Lamesa and in southern Mitchell County and flows southeast into central Texas, the capital at Austin, and on to the Gulf Coast at Matagorda Bay http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/rnc10
Nine years later Captain Marcy would be General Marcy during the Civil War.
Kenneth F. Neighbors, The Marcy-Neighbors Exploration of the Headwaters of the Brazos and Wichita Rivers in 1854 (reprinted in Panhandle Plains Historical Review volume 27 in 1954) $29 and (reprinted 1956) ABE Books very good condition $15. US Army Major Robert S. Neighbors was the United States Supervising Agent for Texas Indian Affairs from 1853. He was murdered at Fort Belknap on September 14, 1859 by Edward Cornett one of many who thought of people like Neighbors as detestable “Indian lovers”. His murder helped the Texas legislature terminate the Indian reservation experiment in Texas and move them in 1859 to Indian Territory next to Oklahoma Territory north of the Red River. Records of the Marcy Expedition of 1852 are displayed at White Deer Land Museum in Pampa Texas http://www.pampamuseum.org/-phs-appreciated.html and here is background for the historical marker referred to above http://pan-tex.net/usr/p/pampa-hist/redriver.htm
The town of Lefors in Gray County and headwaters of the North Fork of the Red River would become famous twenty years after Marcy camped there, when Colonel Ranald Mackenzie successfully led the US Army Fourth Cavalry against Comanche at that site on September 29, 1872 http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fma07
Tierra Blanca = white land, that is the source of the name of the museum, although the town of White Deer on White Deer Creek between Pampa and Panhandle is perhaps the more recent and direct cause for naming the museum, derived from both tierra blanca and a white deer. The town White Deer has a statuary of a white deer right on Main Street US Highway 60.
Tierra Blanca Creek rises in Curry County New Mexico and extends east by Hereford and Umbarger [forming Buffalo Lake at Umbarger Dam (1937) as part of the Tierra Blanca Water Conservation Project and the adjacent Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge] http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Buffalo_Lake/about.html
and where Tierra Blanca Creek joins Palo Duro Creek east of the town of Canyon is the beginning of the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/rbt49 That location is also the founding of the T Anchor Ranch in 1877 by Leigh R. Dyer and his brother Walter Dyer who cut cedar/juniper logs in the canyons and built a two room log cabin with a breezeway between the rooms to use for ranch headquarters. That cabin is now removed (1975) to the lawn north of Panhandle Plains Historical Museum on the campus of West Texas A&M University in Canyon Texas and remains there as a historical artifact in the permanent collection of the Museum. https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/apt01 and here is a picture of the cabin http://panhandleplains.org/pages/tanchor_ranch_house_61.asp It is regarded as the oldest structure in the Panhandle built by Anglo persons.
Intensive agricultural capture of water and drought conditions mean that Buffalo Lake is often dry and the course of the Tierra Blanca Creek is hard to discern west of Hereford to and beyond to the state boundary. We must trust the hydrologists who say it rises in Curry County New Mexico and flows beneath the surface. Las Escarbadas (1886) was a division headquarters building for the XIT Ranch 35 miles west of Hereford astride Tierra Blanca Creek or Draw http://nrhc.ttu.edu/structures/las-escarbadas/ and is now reconstructed (1977) on the site of the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock. http://zisdesign.com/ranch/13.html Las Escarbadas means the scrapings, and refers to comancheros having come to this place where they [having learned from the Indians] scraped at the apparently dry draw and were repeatedly able to yield fresh potable water, so they would set up their trade goods and wait for the Indians.
Tule Creek https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/rbt85 east of Tulia Texas runs into Tule Canyon that runs into Palo Duro Canyon and feeds the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River. It was dammed at Tule Canyon by Mackenzie Dam (1974) in Briscoe County to form Mackenzie Reservoir, an urban water supply for Silverton, Tulia, Floydada and Lockney. It was in Tule Canyon that Colonel Mackenzie had herded the remuda of Comanche horses and slaughtered them in 1874 to destroy the Comanche ability to live independently on the plains. https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/rom20
North Tule Draw and Middle Tule Draw rise in northeastern Castro County and South Tule Draw rises near Nazareth Texas and they converge three miles east of Tulia Texas to form Tule Creek.
Rio Blanco = White River but any river can be masculine Blanco or feminine Blanca. The town of Blanco Texas is white and masculine. Tierra Blanca Creek or White Land Creek is feminine. Rita = small river. Cañon Blanco = Blanco Canyon or White Canyon
Rio Colorado = river of red color, is the source of the name of the Red River, in French “Riviere Rouge” as it was and is called in Louisiana. Note bene: there are several red rivers, this one often referred to as the Red River of the South or Red River of Texas, while the Red River of the North flows north to and through Manitoba to an Arctic Bay at the town of Churchill, and forms the boundary between two states Minnesota and North Dakota.
Within the city limits of Lubbock the parks department has constructed a series of narrow lakes partly within Yellow House Draw and partly within Yellow House Canyon, collectively known as Jim Bertram Canyon Lakes System consisting of six lakes from northwest to southeast Conquistador Lake, Llano Estacado Lake, Comancheria [land of the Comanche] Lake, Vaquero Lake, Canyon Lake, and Dunbar Historical Lake. Vaquero Lake and Canyon Lake lay within Mackenzie Park and it is at Vaquero Lake where Blackwater Draw and Yellowhouse Draw converge. The Canyon Lakes offer scenic views and recreational opportunities, and they also function as an essential part of Lubbock’s wastewater disposal system. First, the city applies treated wastewater to crops at the Lubbock Land Application Site – a 6,000-acre (24 km2) site located east of the City of Lubbock. Here 31 center pivot sprinkler systems are used to irrigate crops with 13 million gallons of treated effluent per day. The soils and sediments of the Land Application Site act as filters as the treated wastewater percolates through the soil. To minimize contamination of the Ogallala Aquifer, groundwater is then pumped from beneath the Land Application Site to Canyon Lakes at Conquistador Lake where the water flows from one lake to the next and eventually into Yellow House Canyon, forming the North Fork of the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River.
Double Mountains is about 12 miles west of the town of Aspermont in Stonewall County. The Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River runs easterly south of Double Mountains, and the Salt Fork of the Brazos River runs easterly north of Double Mountains. Where they converge about 15 miles east of Aspermont is where the Brazos River begins. The Salt Fork rises in the escarpment of the Caprock in south Crosby County. Double Mountains was long a feature on the Dennis Ranch but then Slinging Sammy Baugh purchased it as Double Mountain Ranch. Sammy Baugh http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sammy_Baugh 1914-2008 died in a nursing home in Rotan Texas. He played college football at Texas Christian University and professional football at Washington DC Redskins 1937-1952. The Ranch is now a 20,000 acre cow-calf operation managed by David Baugh, Sammy’s son.
The Clear Fork of the Brazos River http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clear_Fork_Brazos_River rises in Scurry County near Hermleigh and extends a long distance through the Rolling Plains country and merges into the Brazos River south of Graham Texas. Here is a contemporary account of a 32 day canoe trip on the Clear Fork traversing 230 miles from near Fort Phantom Hill north of Abilene Texas ending at Possum Kingdom Lake http://lifeonthebrazosriver.com/32Days.htm Historic Fort Griffin was on the Clear Fork and was the headquarters along with Camp Cooper for Colonel Ranald Mackenzie’s cavalry that conducted the Red River War against the Quahadi [Antelope] Comanche 1871-1874 but some of that war was fought in the Brazos River watershed such as the Battle of Blanco Canyon in 1871. https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qfb02
Runningwater Draw rises in New Mexico and runs east to Bovina Texas and on east to Plainview where it becomes White River and runs through Blanco Canyon east of Crosbyton and farther southeast where it is dammed to form White River Lake, a recreational opportunity and water supply for the towns of Spur, Post, Ralls and Crosbyton. White River continues and merges into the Salt Fork of the Brazos River that converges with the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River in east Stonewall County east of Aspermont Texas to commence the Brazos River on its flow to the Gulf of Mexico. Plainview Country Club is situated in Runningwater Draw http://www.plainviewcc.com/#!club-house/cq4e so the vistas at the golf course are significant for cogitating about early explorations and settlement of the area. Runningwater Draw Park is both west and east of the golf course and there is a bicycling and walking trail in the park. As one drives east southeast from Plainview to Lockney and Floydada on US Highway 70 Runningwater Draw and the White River are to the south.
This is Yellowhouse Draw at Lubbock Lake Landmark Historical Site looking south to Bob Nash Interpretive Center
This is Yellowhouse Draw in west Bailey County
In tracing the meandering Yellowhouse Draw from Lubbock back to its Portales Valley New Mexico outcropping and “Clovis Man” culture beginnings, include Yellow Lake [straddles Hockley and Lamb County], Illusion Lake, Bull Lake [Lamb County], https://books.google.com/books?id=Zko0AQAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA39&lpg=RA1-PA39&dq=monument+lake+bailey+county+texas&source=bl&ots=8xYpDLYXH0&sig=pgIC-I_jjvPczpW74jeT9rgW8ZI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=745aVc3-CeS1sAT99YCQCA&ved=0CDAQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=monument%20lake%20bailey%20county%20texas&f=false Silver Lake [originally known as Laguna Rica or Rich Lagoon][straddles Cochran and Hockley Counties] , Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge lakes [including Upper Goose Lake, Lower Goose Lake, Upper White Lake, Lower White Lake and Lower Paul’s Lake], Baileyboro Lake, Coyote Lake [all in Bailey County, Texas], and Salt Lake, and Little Salt Lake within Grulla National Wildlife Refuge southeast of Portales New Mexico. Grulla means crane in Spanish.
My Texas Atlas & Gazatteer (6th ed. DeLorme Publishing Co 2005) topographic map supports that. Blackwater Draw is north of all the above skirting the south side of Muleshoe Texas. The Blackwater Draw archeology site where Clovis Man artifacts were discovered is seven miles northeast of the city of Portales and is operated by Eastern New Mexico State University.
La Pista [or Punta] de Agua Vida = The Trail of the Living Water. As Indians used it, then comancheros trading with the Indians used it, then US Army explorations like The Mackenzie Trail used it, and economic caravans like the Fort Sumner Trail from Colorado City Texas to Fort Sumner New Mexico Territory. pista=trail or track punta=tip or noticeable protrusion vida=life agua=water. Result of the reference is to indicate water sources that were not continuous rivers or creeks, but just occasional outcroppings of water like a spring at a specific location, the word punta might be used rather than pista, and either one loosely translated meant The Trail of the Living Water.
Where is Monument Lake in southern Bailey County? Since it’s not on maps it’s likely that a rancher impounded water that intermittently gushed forth out of a spring, so the rancher piped it down into the draw and closed the draw at an eastern end with earthworks, and derived a natural rather than metal water tank for cattle. An outflow pipe would take water when the “lake” was full or unused and inject it back into the draw about five feet deep to percolate down into the subterranean water stream.
https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hch16 Hockley County. The XIT expanded to include the northern third of Hockley County; meanwhile, other sections of county land were bought by such ranchers as F. G. Oxsheer (1884), David M. Devitt (1885), John Gordon (1886), and the Snyder brothers, Dudley H. and John W. (1885), who sold to Isaac L. Elwood; Ellwood bought the Spade Ranch (1889). C.C. Slaughter acquired county land in 1897. Virtually all of Hockley County was owned by these few men by the 1890s. There were no census returns for Hockley County until 1900, when forty-four people were found living in the area. That year five ranches, encompassing almost 354,000 acres, were reported in the county; about 15,700 cattle were counted in the area that year. No crops were reported.
The first settlers interested in small-scale ranching or farming were homesteaders who established themselves on properties within a strip of land overlooked in the county’s first survey (and consequently not included within the huge ranches). This strip, varying in width from three-fourths of a mile to two miles, extended the entire length of the county’s southern border. Jim Jarrott encouraged settlement there between 1901 and 1903. The Yellow House section of the XIT, consisting of 235,858 acres in Hockley County and three adjacent counties, was sold to George W. Littlefield in 1901; in 1912, Littlefield began selling farm acreage. Despite this limited burst of settlement in the county, diversified economic development and more significant population growth were delayed until the 1920s, when the big ranchers began selling lands for agricultural uses. As late as 1920, only 137 people lived in the county, and only 3,235 acres was classified as improved. Nevertheless, by this time county residents wanted their own county government. The county was organized in 1921; Hockley City won over Ropesville in the county-seat contest.
The settlement of the county accelerated during the 1920s, encouraged by the construction of two branches of the Santa Fe Railroad in the early 1920s-one crossing east to west, the other crossing the southeast corner of the county. Hockley City, where the Littlefield Lands Company sold 464 farm tracts between 1912 and 1920, was renamed Levelland in 1922; the Slaughter heirs began selling farmland in the northwestern part of the country near Whiteface in 1924. Thousands of settlers moved into the county to establish new farms during this period. The number of farms in the county grew from 18 in 1920 to 279 in 1925 and 1,344 in 1929. Most of the newcomers grew cotton. Only eighty-seven acres in the county had been planted in cotton in 1920, but by 1929 cotton culture occupied more than 95,000 acres of county land. Corn culture also expanded quickly during this period, so that by 1929 about 8,300 acres in the county was planted in that staple. In all, cultivated land in the county totaled almost 175,000 acres by 1929. The county’s growing population mirrored this economic expansion: by 1930 the population was 9,298.
The Great Depression of the 1930s produced difficult times in Hockley County, as it did elsewhere. Virtually all of the land previously sold to prospective farmers by the Slaughter heirs, for example, was repossessed in 1930 and 1931. Nevertheless the number of farms in the county grew significantly during this period as the cotton boom continued and more land was put into cultivation. By 1939, 1,506 farms had been established in Hockley County. More than 106,000 acres was planted in cotton that year, and almost another 150,000 in sorghum; cultivated land totaled more than 266,000 acres. The economy also received a boost in 1937, when oil was discovered in the county. A total of almost 68,000 barrels of crude was pumped from county lands in 1938. The population of the county increased by almost 25 per cent during the 1930s, to reach 12,693 by 1940. The economy grew even more rapidly in the 1940s with the expansion of irrigation and the substantial production of oil at Sundown and other fields. The county pumped more than 14,287,000 barrels of crude in 1944 and more than 20,818,000 in 1948; by 1950 there were 3,000 producing oil wells in Hockley County.
Good photos of West Texas venues at https://sites.google.com/site/photosbyleaflet/home/photos-of-the-llano-estacado
Red River Watershed http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_River_of_the_South#/media/File:Redrivermap1.jpg
Yellow House Draw http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_House_Draw and see Mapcarta http://mapcarta.com/23250784
Blackwater Draw http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackwater_Draw
Double Mountain Fork of Brazos River in Fisher County
Cochran County Texas towns are Morton, the county seat, Bledsoe southwest of Morton near the New Mexico border on FM 769, and Whiteface southeast of Morton on SH 114. Morton is at the junction of Texas SH 114 [east-west] and SH 214 [north-south]. Texas Last Frontier Museum (2003) in Morton is located in a former Masonic Temple (1957) building. What is the significance of the phrase Last Frontier and how did Morton gain its name?
Christopher C. Slaughter was a cattle baron whose Lazy S Ranch (1898) 246,699 acres at the end of the 19th century, traversed almost all of Cochran County and more land. George Washington Littlefield purchased 238,585 acres from the XIT Ranch in 1901 and a small portion of it was in Cochran County. Slaughter died in 1919 and his heirs dissolved the cattle company in 1921 into small enough tracts that they could be sold either as family ranches or family farms. Minnie Slaughter Veal, his eldest daughter, hired a land agent to sell some of her property and his name was Morton Smith. He founded the town in 1923 and named it for himself. His land agency office was on the east side of the town square. Morton was incorporated in 1933 and elected its first mayor. Cochran County was one of the last areas in Texas to which a person or family could emigrate and “break out” new land. It was regarded as The Last Frontier. The western boundary of the county is the New Mexico border. Morton population is 2,006 as of the 2010 census, about 61% Hispanic, 33% Anglo, 4% African-American. Cochran County population 1890-zero, 1900-25, 1920-67, 1930-1,963, 1960-6,417, 1970-5,326, and 2010-3,127 so it’s been declining since 1960. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txcochra/cochran_county_history.htm
Do not confuse Christopher C. Slaughter’s Lazy S Ranch with his younger brother John B. Slaughter’s U Lazy S Ranch headquartered in Post Texas, Garza County, now owned by the John F. Lott family http://www.ulazysranch.com/about_us.htm Christopher C. Slaughter had four younger brothers John, Will, Pete and Mace all in the cattle business at one time or another. Christopher C. Slaughter was often known as “Lum” or “C.C.” or “Colonel” and can be distinguished in that way. Christopher C. Slaughter’s Long S Ranch (1877) headquartered in Big Spring Texas eventually extended north to the Plainview Texas area and included a ranch near present Lubbock called the Whiteface Ranch. He was known for cattle breeding, introducing short horn cattle to replace the indigenous longhorn and then breeding shorthorns with Hereford cattle to produce the heaviest cattle sent to market from Texas, and the most expensive, making him a fortune.
Christopher C. Slaughter bought his Lazy S Ranch land in 1898 from the dissolving XIT Ranch that included in 1885 nearly the entire Cochran County area, the southern-most division of seven divisions of the XIT called Las Casas Amarillas or The Yellow Houses [a land feature in northwest Hockley County and southwest Lamb County on a bluff above Yellow Lake that looked to Coronado and his men in 1541 as if it were a Spanish apartment house so he named it Las Casas Amarillas] and from 1887 it was a breeding range for the XIT. Thus the Cochran County land was Comanche domain or owned by XIT Ranch or later by Christopher C. Slaughter until it was broken up into tracts for sale in 1921 as “Last Frontier” land for purchase and settlement.
One can keep all these cattlemen of yore straight by consulting William Joseph Elliot, The Spurs (Texas Spur 1939) Texas Tech Library Southwest Collection TEX 51.3 S772E, reprinted W. J. “Scotch Bill” Elliot, The Spurs (Texas State House Press 2009) hardcover $22.25.
W.J. Elliot, a native of Scotland, arrived April 28, 1888 at the headquarters of the Espuela [Spanish for Spur] Land and Cattle Company (1884) to become the ranch bookkeeper. He helped survey the town of Espuela [Spur] (1891) and was manager of the general store and postmaster into 1910. The collection of the Spur-Dickens County Museum at 327 Burlington Avenue, Spur Texas 79370 phone 806-294-5401 tells his story and he tells the story of cattlemen from experiences with them. The short version of the Spur Ranch is that it was never profitable for its English and Scottish investors and was sold in 1906 to an American land syndicate that would gradually reduce the cattle herd, terminating it in 1915. The syndicate sold parcels and tracts of land for family ranches and farms, completing that process by 1938 when author Elliot’s book would be published. William Curry Holden, The Espuela Land and Cattle Company: A Study of a Foreign-Owned Ranch in Texas (Texas State Historical Association 1970) ABE Books good condition $14.41, see also J.W. Williams, The Big Ranch Country (Double Mountain Books Series) (Texas Tech University Press 1999) paperback $15.85
John and Bette Hope of Levelland, Jim Hogue, and Dorothy Barker on behalf of the Hockley and Cochran Counties Historical Commissions, organized and conducted several bus tours in September called The Last Frontier Ranch Heritage Tour, the sixth annual was held on September 25, 2010 http://lubbockonline.com/local-news/2010-09-05/ranch-tour-tells-history-first-ranchers#.VPCek9bDtec I was privileged to attend and enjoyed a meal at the C.C. Slaughter Lazy S Ranch headquarters building three miles southwest of Morton. http://www.co.hockley.tx.us The 2011 tour extended to Zavala Camp [a cowboy camp in Hockley County for partners Fountain Goodlet Oxsheer and C.C. Slaughter], L7 Ranch in Terry County, T Bar Ranch in Lynn County, Double Lakes and Tahoka Lake in Lynn County, and the Meadow and Ropesvile Texas communities. http://lubbockonline.com/local-news/2011-09-10/last-frontier-ranch-heritage-tour-scheduled#.VPIx19bDtec F. G. Oxsheer by 1884 operated a large ranch in Hockley County and was often a partner rather than a competitor with Slaughter.
The Buffalo Soldier Expedition of 1877 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_Soldier_tragedy_of_1877 occurred because, although the Comanche were forced onto the Indian Territory [current Oklahoma] reservation in 1875, there were still an occasional Comanche hunting/raiding party [label depends on one’s perspective] that would leave the reservation and venture out onto the Llano Estacado. Company A of 10th U.S. Army Cavalry under the command of Captain Nicholas Nolan, was searching for such a hunting/raiding party when the troops became lost and disoriented, had used up their water supplies, and were without access to water for 86 hours. Four troopers and one Anglo buffalo hunter died. There are four gravestones in the Morton Memorial Cemetery [north of town on SH 114] for those African-American soldiers John H. Bonds, John T. Gordon, John Isaacs and Isaac Derwin. Deeper into the Cemetery to the west is a stone marker for the Comanche who inhabited this area before Anglo settlement. Paul H. Carlson, The Buffalo Soldier Tragedy of 1877 (Texas A&M University Press 2003) Texas Tech Library E99.C85 C36, ABE Books new $14.79 incl s&h, Lubbock Public Library 976.4 CARL Adult Nonfiction
South of the Last Frontier Museum is the Quanah Parker Trail Arrow (installed March 15, 2013) http://www.quanahparkertrail.com/Quanah_Parker_Trail/Events/Events.html crafted by metal sculptor Charles A. Smith of 290 FM Road 1730 Wilson TX 79381-2304 in his studio in far north Lynn County near the Lubbock County line. Next to the Arrow is Minnie Veal School (1922) named for the eldest daughter of the legendary cattle rancher in the county.
In the south part of Morton is Strickland Park with a man-made pond, the site of an annual Fireworks Display on July 4 conducted by the Volunteer Fire Department. Don’t look for the weekly newspaper The Morton Tribune as it folded about 2011 and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal newspaper is distributed daily in Morton and throughout the county. Levelland & Hockley County News-Press weekly newspaper http://www.levellandnews.net/62529/2330/1/this-weeks-issuepdf also serves the Morton area. The Morton High School “Indians” play sports with black/gold colors accented by white uniforms.
Leave Morton going south on SH 214 just two miles and west on SH 1169 for a half mile to the historic C.C. Slaughter Lazy S Ranch headquarters building that is rent-able as an event center http://blog.chron.com/txpotomac/2010/01/today-in-texas-history-cattle-barons-death-ignites-family-feud/ The metal Historical Marker says Upwards of 246,669 acres of Cochran and Hockley county lands. Col. C. C. Slaughter – a leader in banking, ranching and religious life in Texas – purchased land 1898-1901. First headquarters was a half-dugout. In 1915, C. C. Slaughter Cattle Company, Inc. brought men from Mexico to build this adobe and concrete quadrangle, on order of a Spanish hacienda. This was one of finest Texas ranch buildings of its era. Seventeen miles south of Morton on SH 214 and then 2.5 miles west on FM 1585 is Old Surratt Territory Ranch where the marker says Once representative of the late-19th century settlement and ranching history of the vast grasslands of the Texas Panhandle. Marshall Surratt (1849-1927), an East Texas native who settled in Waco and became a prominent attorney and district judge, purchased the 53 sections of land in 1885. Although the territory was known by his name, Jude Surratt never lived in Cochran County; he leased the acreage to the Jumbo Cattle Company. Operated by brothers Nick and John Beal and John Beal’s brother-in-law, F. G. Oxsheer, the Jumbo was one of a number of large ranching operations, including those owned by such famous cattlemen as C. C. Slaughter and George Littlefield, that thrived despite several years of winter blizzards and summer droughts. Wells and windmills were located throughout the Surratt Territory to provide reliable water sources for the herds of cattle roaming its plains. The early history of Cochran County settlement is the history of its ranching. The census of 1890 revealed no permanent residents; in 1900 ranchers working in the county accounted for its population of 25, and by 1920 the figure had risen to 67. As free range ranching gave way to fenced pastures of large syndicates and smaller family farms and ranches, the once vast ranch lands were divided. These smaller operations resulted in a division of lands and a surge in population, as reflected by the 1930 census figure of 1,963. Purchased by a succession of absentee landowners after 1900, the Surratt Territory remained intact until 1953.
If you want to visit Bledsoe travel south of Morton eight miles on SH 214 and west on FM 769 for 13 miles to the town of Bledsoe, a South Plains & Santa Fe Railway Company town and cattle shipping center one mile from the New Mexico border. The line opened in 1925.
Travel east on FM 769 and SH 125 to Whiteface, formerly a cattle shipping center but now an oil and gas well operations hub, that includes the Whiteface Historical Museum located in the former Whiteface Hotel (1926). The South Plains & Santa Fe Railway Co completed a line west of Lubbock to Whiteface, Lehman and Bledsoe in Cochran County in 1925. The line from Whiteface to Bledsoe was abandoned in 1983 http://texaslastfrontier.com/railroad/railroad-history/ and the depot at Bledsoe was moved to Lubbock as an artifact. The history of Whiteface is here http://texaslastfrontier.com/towns/whiteface/ including the first producing oil well in the county 1936 on the Duggan Ranch south of Whiteface. Cal Farley’s Girlstown USA was established on the Duggan Ranch property in 1949 eight miles south of Whiteface http://1backup.calfarley.net/girsltown.htm and currently houses 84 girls. I’ve toured the impressive facility at 2490 SH 1780 Whiteface Texas.
Festivities occur each Summer in Morton and sometimes a re-enactment of the Buffalo Soldier event, this year on June 26-28, 2015 Texas Last Frontier Celebration and Buffalo Soldier Encampment. https://www.facebook.com/LlanoEstacadoHeritageFoundation/posts/543329362373166 Here is the poster for the 2014 Celebration http://tools.cira.state.tx.us/users/0026/docs/Flyer-TX%20Last%20Frontier%20Celebration-June%2028-29%202014-General.pdf
The Mallet Ranch (1885) https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/apm11 of Mallet Land and Cattle Company in southwest Hockley County near Sundown Texas was located adjacent to the C.C. Slaughter Lazy S Ranch and the ranches were competitors. David DeVitt operated the Mallet Ranch and his two daughters Christine DeVitt and Helen DeVitt Jones moved to Lubbock late in life. Oil was discovered on the Mallet Ranch in 1937 and oil revenue continues to fund the CH [Christine and Helen] Foundation http://www.chfoundationlubbock.com/history/index.html and the Helen Jones Foundation (1984) that are major philanthropic entities on the South Plains. David J. Murrah, Oil, Taxes, and Cats: A History of the DeVitt Family and the Mallet Ranch (Texas Tech University Press 1994). https://www.depts.ttu.edu/gradschool/docs/scholarships/donors/H.Jones_donor_highlight.pdf Llano Estacado Heritage Foundation is located at 204 E. Carter Street, Sundown Texas 79372 phone 806-638-4524
Mallet Event Center & Arena (2012) http://www.malleteventcenter.com/default.aspx is located on the south side of the city of Levelland Texas and is a marvelous addition to the area. It has a banquet hall, an exposition hall, an arena [dirt], a warm-up arena [also dirt], and covered penning for animals. Small events can be held in the lobby concourse area. Texas Limousin cattle breeders will appear in a show at the Mallet on May 22-24, 2015, a most fitting experience as a legacy from the breeding activities of Christopher C. Slaughter more than a century earlier in this area.
Comanche tribes in the Texas Oklahoma area were, from the Edwards Plateau region going north: Peneteka (honey eaters), Nokoni (those who turn back), Tanina (liver eaters), Tenewa (those who stay downstream), Kotsotekas (buffalo eaters) in Oklahoma, Yamparikas (yap plant eaters) in Arkansas River area in Kansas, and to the northwest Quahadis (antelopes) on the Llano Estacado. Notice that the Whiteface High School mascot is Antelopes, as is Abernathy High School and Post High School. Antelope Texas is on the road between Archer City and Jacksboro twenty miles northwest of Jacksboro in Jack County http://www.texasescapes.com/CentralTexasTownsNorth/Antelope-Texas.htm It is culturally notable that the Comanche of this area called themselves Antelope people and Anglo settlements are named for the antelope and their sports teams mascot is named for the antelope. People who are thought to be so different and distinctive may have at a deep unconscious level similar leanings and appreciations.
Great Western Cattle Trail Association annual national meeting is Friday-Sunday July 17-19, 2015 at Altus Oklahoma. Due to the recent passing of Mary Ann McCuistian it is being named Mary Ann McCuistian Memorial Conference. A Saturday afternoon excursion will take attendees to Doan’s Crossing of the Red River http://www.redriverhistorian.com/doanscrossing.html on the Great Western Cattle Trail 1874-1893 headed from Texas for Dodge City Kansas. http://www.altustimes.com/news/news/152066423/Great-Western-Cattle-Trail-annual-meeting-to-be-held-in-Altus and cities like Seymour Texas are proud of their location on the trail http://www.greatwesterncattletrail.com/along_gwct_a/along_gwct.html This map depicts the Trail beginning at San Antonio, Kerrville, Abilene, Fort Griffin, Vernon, Doan’s Crossing, Altus Oklahoma, Elk City, Fort Supply, Doby Springs, Ashland Kansas, Big Basin and Dodge City railhead http://www.redriverhistorian.com/greatwestern.html A price of $8 per head at San Antonio compared to $23 per head at Dodge City is what caused the cattle drive to the railhead.
Robin Cole-Jett, Traveling History Up the Cattle Trails: A Road Tripper’s Guide to the Cattle Drives of the Southwest (Red River Historian Press 2014) paperback $15.29 at Amazon.com or $15.52 incl s&h at ABE Books new American culture has grown up around the mythic West – the cowboy, the open range, and the longhorn. What better way to discover the legends surrounding the Old West than to follow the history of the cattle drives? “Traveling History Up the Cattle Trails” offers three historic
road trips that trace the Shawnee, Chisholm, and Great Western Cattle Trails from Texas all the way to Kansas. Complete travel itineraries, vintage photographs, depictions of relics from the past, and trail drive histories make this book a great traveling companion for all readers enthralled with the open road.
The Texas chapter of the Trail is here http://thegreatwesterntrail.com/wp/