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The History of Skellytown

submitted by Elnora Cook-Wyrick

Original material provided to me 12 May 2003, by Bobby Don Cook, who got it from the Skellytown City Hall Offices.

Transcribed as written, retaining spelling of all Proper Names, by Elnora Frances Cook-Wyrick.

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(Click the map for a larger view.)

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The History of Skellytown

In 1926, there were two towns in the building process and three towns involved, "Ole Skelly," due south of Skellytown, Roxana, directly north of Skellytown, and Nollette in the East. Roxana was the largest of the three.

The people lived without any utilities, burning wood for fuel and buying water. In late 1927, these towns went together because a railroad was being built from White Deer. The people had begun to move to the Santa Fe Railroad vicinity. Mr. Schafer gave lots to Skellytown for those in "Ole Skelly." Roxana moved its business part to Skelly. So, a town was laid out and the main block was moved into Skellytown. The moving had started. They merely loaded the buildings and all the furnishings and equipment and moved them. For more than a week, at least three buildings per day were moved. They were ready for business as soon as they were placed on their foundations.

The first cafe cooked their food with wood. The main street was filled with business firms and two or more blocks of Roosevelt Avenue was also a business section. The east side of main street was occupied by machine shops, warehouses, and lumber yards. At one time, there were seven grocery stores, three drug stores, two dry goods stores, Black's Hotel, Carrol's Apartments, Panhandle Power Lights, a pool hall, a dance hall, a picture show, beauty shops, barber shops, several cafes, dry cleaners, rooming houses, furniture stores, hardware stores, garages, filling stations, a Post Office, a hospital and others.

The first constable was Mr. Coffee and "Two-gun Jones" became the law. He wore guns on each hip. We might recall two murders, one suicide, and one killed by the train in the past years.

The hospital was four rooms and was operated by Dr. Coolen. The people decided they needed a school. The teachers were Mrs. Kizedon, Miss Ruth Hill and Miss Maude Keyes. The school was very crowded. There were two grades in each room and two pupils in every single seat.

On April 5, 1958, there was a city wide election and the Citizens passed on the issue 84 to 8. On April 26th, “Lena Moore” was elected mayor and L.I. Vaughn and Clifton Hanna were elected commissioners by the voters.

It was discussed that we were going to buy a water and gas system from Southwestern Public Service Company. The City now owns the water system.

Now we have a Western Auto, a laundry, a new dry goods store, a Bob's Television and Appliances, a new barber shop, several beauty shops, two grocery stores, a sewer line and system, four service stations, a cafe', library, post office, a Nutro Chemical Co., two garages, a Lion's Club, Oddfellows Lodge, Masonic Lodge, Rebecca Lodge, two drug stores, a new Town Hall, fire station, Little League Baseball Park, Panther Den, a Gun Club, an airport, four churches, a school, and several new homes.

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EARLY DAYS IN SKELLYTOWN

By Mrs. George Allen

Mr. George A. Allen came to Skellytown, Texas, in the fall of 1926. Mr. Allen preceded me five weeks, in order to prepare a place. I was just recovering from a sickness and was unable to come when he did, so stayed in Oklahoma while he, my nephew, Jim Harshman, and Claude James came to the Texas Panhandle to look for a location in the oil field that was being developed here.

After George had a new house built, he came for me. We arrived here in the evening the day before Thanksgiving in a heavy dust storm,

The men had been batching in a shed my husband had built, and the first thing my nephew asked me to do was to bake them some pies. He said, "I am so darned tired of eating our cooking, I can't hardly stand it any more." Not withstanding all they had to cook on was a little "monkey-key" stove, no oven, and everything was covered with at least an eighth of an inch of dust. (I guess he had never baked many pies.)

The next morning I went to the only restaurant in town, that was owned by Mr. George Graham to see about our Thanksgiving dinner. They said they were going to serve Turkey, but it was then ten thirty and our men wanted dinner at noon; theirs wasn't on the stove yet, so I decided to fix up something at home.

When the town site was first started, Henry Schafer and Leroy (commonly called, "Buck") Miller, Mr. Schafer's son in-law gave a beef barbecue for the guests. Henry Paulsen, whose wife was a sister to Henry Schafer’s wife, put up a two-story frame hotel. Afterwards he moved it to where Skellytown is now.

Mr. Banks had the first grocery store. Ed Krebs had a garage. He moved it to the new place on the east side of Main Street. Later on, he married a girl by the name of Valley Hill, whose father lived on the Schafer ranch. Later, he moved to Skellytown.

It was in Ed Krebs' garage in old Skellytown where we saw some real shooting! A man came through, who looked to be about in his middle fifties. He had Paul Attwood's wife, who lived there, hold a cigarette between her teeth and he shot the fire from off of it. He said, "It is a very simple trick. All one had to do, if the one holding the cigarette is south of the cigarette, then, just shoot a little to the North of his face." Then he leaned backward over a trestle, holding his rifle upside down and shot a paper in two, that was held edgewise to him. He, also, did some rapid shooting, putting five shots in a spot that could be covered by a nickel, five cent piece. All this was done by a poor light at night, in the garage.

There was a great deal of building going on, one could hear hammer and saws going day and night, all working with clean, new lumber.

When we first went there, there was a great need of pipe and gas fixtures, and my husband would haul loads of it from Amarillo to resell, he and Jimmie Harshman would take contracts to do plumbing, not only in Skellytown, but also in Roxana.

At first it was hard to decide which town to settle in, for there was Roxana about two miles to die North and Nolette to the east. For a while, Roxana appeared to be doing much better than Skellytown; it was much larger, but today, Roxana and Nolette, both are gone.

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HISTORY OF SKELLYTOWN:

At the beginning, people worked under disadvantages: There was a doctor at Roxana, Doctor Vincent, who had some patients that needed tonsillectomy. Accordingly, he set a date , and a friend of mine, Anna Gass that was working for Mrs Henry Paulsen went to have her tonsils removed. This same Anna Gass later, when she was toying with her own loaded gun and accidentally shot herself. I went over to be with her and held a coal oil lamp while the doctors worked on four other patients at once.

After the first of the year. we had a carpenter build-a store building and we put in groceries. We had grocery stores in several places in Oklahoma before we came here. Clinton Freeman, a son of Egbert and Sylvia Freeman, put in a meat market in our store.

The next autumn they decided to move the town to the present location because the railroad company wanted to put the depot over here.

The big moving time began. People were given lots something like they had bought. We moved here in the midst of a cane patch and for a while the flies were very troublesome.

We had just gotten our building moved in when Mr Hickory Rhoten came and put in a grocery store at the northern end of this block. We had lived in the same town he did in Oklahoma and were very good friends and still are, to this day.

His brother, Jim Rhoten, put in the first dry goods store. Soon there were four lumber companies locating here. The Acme, Tulsa Rig and Reel. The Fox Rig and Reel, and the Panhandle Lumber Company.

For a while there were many tough and undesirable citizens, although there was no Boot Hill Cemetery. There was none at all. Neither was there an undertaker, nor hospital, nor doctor.

Later Doctor Coolin came and had a small, emergency --hospital. He was here three or four years, then Dr. Gilliand was here, and when World War 2 started, he left to go to Fort Sam Houston. After that, Doctor Falkenstein had an office here for a year or more, then he located in Pampa. Since then, we have had no doctor.

I said at first the town was tough , but it could not have been as tough as Borger, for I heard a man say he saw men tied along the sidewalk, for that was the best way they could do with them for the jail was full.

In speaking of Borger, when we first came here there was no road leading directly to Borger and people just drove through the Four Six Ranch in the direction of Borger. There were at least a dozen roads going that way. Where one road became too muddy they just made another track. More than one lost their way driving at night, coming to Skellytown.

Beatrice Paquett was in charge of the post office under –Herbert Hoover. Violet Pollyak and Mrs, Minnie Smith, her sister, had the Roxana Post Office.

The first school house in old Skellytown was a small frame building. Soon there was a Union Sunday School started and they met in the school house. They moved it to the new site; then later, after they were using the large building they now have, the frame building burned.

Soon after the new town started, Rev. Foote, who was pastoring the Methodist Church at White Deer, organized a church here, he kept coming for a year or two, then the Congregation became small and he ceased coining. But the Union Sunday School continued in the school house. Later, they turned the Methodist Church into a Community Church; and now they have a beautiful structure to worship in built in 1948.

In 1928, Rev. Clyde Goree and Mrs. Thelma Passmore came from Oklahoma and held a series of meetings, then organized the Assembly of God Church. Now they have a nice building.

August 12.1935, Rev. Herman Coe, Pastor of the White Deer Baptist Church organized the First Baptist Church. They met in our home there were thirteen present. Now, they have a good new church built in 1963.

The Church of Christ believers found there were enough people here to maintain a church, and in 1949, they formed their church, and with Mr. Joe Presten as their first preacher; they too, now have a comfortable building.

In this day, of the four churches, is a far cry from the beginning. There is an entirely different class of citizens living here now. Then, there was much drinking and gambling, and sometimes, shooting, too. One Fourth of July, many began drinking and were quite drunk by noon, it kept piling up, and by night there was a crowd of intoxicated people. There was a dance held on the corner of Roosevelt and Fourth Street. Mr. Bill Combast was stabbed, he died almost instantly. They brought him to Dr. Coolin’s office, but he was dead before they started with him. The officers were never able to find out who did it.

Another time, a robber entered Harry Brandt's Dry Goods Store and stuck a knife in his back. It was reported the doctor said, the knife lacked but a very little of hitting a vital spot.

Two other men, one whose name was Nicks, and Noah Carnutt, had been having trouble for quite some time. Nicks was working in a restaurant, in a building owned by Al Goodrich, Noah came in and told Nicks he should be gone by a certain time; if lie was not, it would just be too bad for him. Later when Noah came, Nicks was waiting and was prepared. He shot Noah there in the restaurant.

It was an ordeal to live here in the beginning. Some-times one would learn of a "good" customer leaving, owing a big bill. Next, it would be good news, that there was a Helium Plant going to locate here. One could always hear something, good or bad. No two days were alike.

Today, there is an Odd Fellow and Rebekah Hall. The organization was started In 1941, by Isaac Hughes. Uncle Ike Hughs, to most people. The Skellytown Lions Club was organized October 2, 1952.* Boy Scouts and Brownies were organized. A well-lighted Little League Baseball park was built. Free County Library was established.

Two grocery stores owned by Clyde & Forrest Horner and Mr. Ricketts and Son built new stores in 1963. Clyde and Forrest Horner came to Skellytown, Jan. 26, 1929, and Mr Ricketts in 1958.

There is a barber shop with two barbers, Homer Garrett and Mr. Duckworth, and a TV Shop in the same building, operated by Bob Gamble. There is one restaurant operated by the Jordan’s and two Drug stores, the E & M and the Skellytown Drug.
The principal work is the oil business and its subsidiaries.

As I said at the start there was a heavy dusty storm when I came, well, after thirty years, the dust still blows, Aug. 29, 1956.

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SKELLYTOWN
by John Banks

In 1926, two towns were in the process of being built, and a third town was already established.

The towns were 'Ole Skelly," due south of Skellytown, Roxana, directly north of Skellytown, and Nollette, in the east. Roxana was the largest of the three.

The people lived without any utilities, burning wood for fuel, and buying Water.

In late 1927, these towns went together because a railroad was being built from White Deer.

The people then started moving in the vicinity of the Santa Fe Railroad. Mr Schafer gave lots to Skellytown for those in "Ole Skelly." Roxana moved its business part to Skelly.

So, a town was laid out and the main block was moved Into Skellytown. The moving started, they merely located the building and all the furnishings and equipment and moved them, For more than a week, at least three buildings per day were moved, The firms were ready for business as soon as they were placed on their foundations. The first cafes cooked food using wood as fuel. The main street was filled with business firms and two or more blocks of Roosevelt Avenue was also a business section. The east side of main street was occupied by machine shops, ware - houses, and lumber yards. At one time there were seven grocery stores, three drug stores, two dry goods stores, Black’s Hotel, Carrol's Apartments, Panhandle Power & Light, a pool hall, a dance hall, a picture show, beauty shops, barber shops, several cafes, dry cleaners, rooming houses, furniture stores, hardware stores, garages, filling stations, post office, a hospital and others.

The first constable was Mr. Coffee and “Two gun Jones" became the law. He wore guns on each hip. We might recall two murders, one suicide, and one killed by the train in those years.

The hospital was four rooms and was operated by Dr. Coolen.

The need for a school was recognized. The teachers were: Mrs. Rizedon, Miss Ruth Hill and Miss Maude Keyes. The school was very crowded. There were two grades in each room and two pupils in every single seat.

On April 5, 1958, there was a City wide election and the Citizen's passed on the Issue 84 to 8. On April 26th. Lena Moore was elected Mayor and L.L..Vaughn and Clifton Hanna were elected commissioners by the voters. The city now owns the water system, and has a modern sewer line and system.

We now have four churches, a modern school, a Lions Club, Oddfellows, Masonic Lodge, Rebecca Lodge, a Gun Club, airport, library, post office, a new town hall, Fire station, little league baseball park, barber shop, several beauty shops, two grocery stores, two drug stores, a laundry, a dry goods store, and several new homes.

MAYORS OF SKELLYTOWN

Mrs. Lena Moore -- 1958-1960
Mr. Frank Hewitt -- l960 -1962
Mr, Neil McBroom -- 1962-1964
Mr, Ed Kleibrink -- 1964

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This page was last updated July 6, 2008.