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The Origin of Tap, Texas

Source: Dickens County History...its Land and People 1986
© Dickens Historical Commission


James N. Fields operated the first post office at Tap, Texas beginning in 1900. Bud Turner was hired to carry the mail from Tap to Espuela, formerly called Old Dickens. Until this time, everyone carried their own mail. Mrs. Mamie Garrett Martin remembers her Daddy, Uncle Clint Garrett, sending her brother to Espuela after the mail. He carried a flour sack to bring the mail back in, as he would also bring the neighbors mail. No one really knew the exact distance from Tap to Espuela, but Mr. Alf Manning decided he wanted to know just how far it was, so he fell on the plan to measure the distance. This was his plan: He measured the distance around his wagon wheel, then tied a string on the wheel then started for Dickens. He counted the turns of the wheel, multiplied the lengths of the wheel and came up with 17 miles as the crow flies.

Bud Turner served as mail carrier for several years and frequently needed a substitute. He had a young daughter, May Turner Danforth, who has not quite old enough to legally substitute as a carrier, so was assisted by a cousin, Edna Cross Fuqua who was older. May told me this little incident; their instructions were never to be more than 10 feet from the mail sack. One day they saw a strange looking varmit in the grass near the road and went to investigate. After following it for a little ways, they realized they were quite a distance from the mail sack. They rushed madly back, fearing the worst, but as there was no one for miles around there, there was no need to be afraid. They made it home just fine, but forgot to inform Mr. Turner of the strange varmit by the road and never found out what it was. The store and the post office changed owners very soon. It was sold to one of the Harris brothers, Charles V., Henry and Rob. I am not sure which of these men bought it. They were cousins of the McArthur boys. Harris ran the store until 1903 when they sold it to Mr. Elihu Luce. Mr. Luce moved his son John and wife from the West Pasture where they had started a settlement, to take care of the store and post office at Tap. The West Pasture settlement became a large community and farming area known as Watson, later changed to Kalgary in the 1930's by the lady postmistress, Reed. She also ran a store with the assistance of her husband, Jimmie Reed. Once upon a time a fellow by the name of James Fields, who had just recently purchased a piece of land, filed on it and moved his family. He decided he would like to have a supplies store at this place, so after fixing a place for it, he began making preparations for a trip to the railroad to get needed supplies.

In making his preparations the first thing he did was to prepare his wagon for the trip. He had to grease the wheels, so he took the tap off of the wheel and laid it down on the ground. In the moving around the place, one of the taps were misplaced and he was unable to find it. In his preparations of the wagon he finally found the tap and placed it on the wheel. In his thinking and preparing for the store he had failed to give it any kind of name, so in the tussell of the wagon it just came to him to call it "TAP". From then on the place became "TAP".

There was already a supply wagon located in the community just about a mile or two south of there belonging to a freighter. He had decided some time before this, to bring a wagon load of supplies to this community so he rigged up a wagon, placing shelves on each side of the wagon attached to the sideboards and stocked it with the most needed supplies that he thought the settlers would most likely need. Soon after Mr. Bolt located his wagon and set it up for business. The residents were happy to have a store to buy supplies for their homes. Another man by the name of Bud Turner, who was a blacksmith by trade, moved his items of business over near Mr. Bolt's place and set up shop near the supply wagon and a new store began. While living there, a baby girl was born to Mr. and Mrs. Turner. A few years ago this baby, now a grown lady, came back to this country to get a birth certificate. She had no trouble locating her birth place. It was recorded in Dickens, Texas as Uralee Turner, Bolt, Texas, in the year of 1900. Later a son was born to this union, called Buster. He was struck by lightning about the year of 1908. He had second degree burns all over his back and legs and was unable to do anything for months, but our own Dr. Hale living at Dickens at this time, took care of him and he survived. Another man, Lodd Fry, an uncle, was also burned very bad at the same time, he also survived the ordeal. Several people settled at this place and set up living quarters there, but when Tap was located they all moved up there. Mr. Bolt decided he would sell out to Mr. J.N. Fields, so he went up to see him and made him an offer. In the conversation he reminded Mr. Fields that he thought the Bolt and Tap should be together and they combined the two stores and called it Tap. This incident occurred in April of 1900 about ten years after the county was organized and it was beginning to be very well settled up.

One reason for the location of Tap, there was a fine well of water near this place. It was a hand dug well, walled with rock and a plank cover over it with a frame and hoist to hang the pulley on. People who had no well, came there to get water. At the turn of the century everyone was very happy to assist his neighbor. Of course, everyone had to draw their own water, but there was no cost. Another great attraction to this place was it being near the center of the little settlement of nesters.

This place also had access to the open range where everyone was allowed to use the open pasture surrounding this place. There was also a wonderful spring just east of this place giving the stock access to plenty of water at all times of the year.

Everyone hauled water and drove their stock to gyp springs all during the settling of this community. This spring was used by the buffalo hunters and later by the bone wagons hauling the buffalo bones. Gyp springs was a central location for any kind of gathering that was held in the surrounding community. I have been informed that at one time there was a camp meeting held there. That was years before my time. Now in later years, there is a story of a dance hall being there. I can't verify or deny that, but I will say I had never heard of it until recently. This was a church going community, so I doubt the story. The story I got was of a camp meeting being held there, which could have been managed alright, with each family or individual bring all of their needs for camping out. The food was usually furnished by the church that was holding the meeting, either the Church of Christ or the Baptist as they were the only congregations that were organized at that time. There was a Holiness meeting held, about in the year of 1910 but that was after the tabernacle was built at Tap and it was conducted there.

All the young folks gathered there for their picnics, Easter egg hunts, and things of that nature. I have a picture of one of these gatherings. All three of my brothers are in the picture; Ed, Brook, and Forrest Martin. In those days all the young folks went in groups. The gyp springs was located northeast of the Tap store about two or three miles, just outside of the Spur Ranch Pasture, on the bluff of the Little Red Mud Creek. It was a flowing spring from which everyone in reach of it got water. They drove their stock to water there and hauled water in barrels or anything that would hold water.

A teacher of mine told a little story of what happened to her one day when she was taking the stock to water. Her horse became scared and almost jumped from under her when it noticed a big rattlesnake in its trail. She managed to stay on top, but when she saw the snake, it scared her almost as bad as it had the horse. She managed to find something to kill it with. No one ever let a snake get away if they could help it.

This lady lived to be a school teacher, Miss Lizzie Perkins was a fine lady as well as doing a lot of work in the field. She told me a story once of a job she did helping her father. He had cleared and plowed a nice track of land, it had taken him two days to plow this patch of ground. He asked Miss Lizzie to plow it for him. She was used to a walking plow, so she geared up her horse and started out soon after lunch. By quitting time she had plowed the entire block of ground. She always got the job done. She made a school teacher, after going to Austin ladies finishing college and taught at our school. They were friends of long standing as our families lived in Jones County before coming to Tap in 1903. After the consolidation of the Fields' and Bolt's stores and the opening of the blacksmith shop and post office, the young boys of the community made this their headquarters for their games, footraces, wrestling matches, horse races, and the business of settling differences of who was really the best man. At one time when a saddle horse was tied to a mesquite tree, it got excited and began to cut up. It reared up and came down on a broken limb of the tree and stuck it in it's neck. It was so badly injured it bled to death. Incidentally, this horse was the property of the late Pat Greer. Later, a hotel was built west of the store having several rooms. It was run by Mrs. McKay, a widow lady, she was the grandmother of the present Walter McKay, a resident of the present care center being operated in Spur.

The Tap store was bought by Mr. E. Luce in about 1903 and was later operated by a son and daughter-in-law of Mr. Luce's, John and Zona Luce. They were the first ones to drive to what is now known as Kalgary in a wagon. They had to clear out a road as they went along in order to be able to take their wagons through. Mrs. Zona Luce often talked about the hardships they endured while living at Tap. She was frequently left alone while her husband was away helping someone work cattle or gone to the railroad for supplies. She always carried an ax handle to kill rattlesnakes when out walking in the pasture, usually gathering in the milk cows at night. They lived at Kalgary a few years before coming back to run the store.


The Garrett family, W.C. Garrett and Malinda, settled in the Bolt community and lived there for quite some time before they decided to go back to Oklahoma. While living in Oklahoma, three more children were born to them; Lila, Jim, and Mamie. Finally they came back to Bolt which was called Tap by then.

Misfortune overtook them after moving back and death entered their family. Mrs. Malinda Garrett, the mother, passed away and left a number of children; Edna, Annie, Walter, Lila, Jim, and Mamie. Some were soon married and had families. Edna married Lee Johnson and had two little girls, Maudie and Rachel who were living in New Mexico when she passed away. Their daddy, Lee Johnson came back to Tap to raise his small children and soon married a local girl. He married Ophelia Presler and raised the two girls along with two little boys. He bought a place and built a nice house and lived for several years before he moved to California, where the family still lives. The children all married local residents and made Tap their home. The youngest girl, Alice Mamie, married Forrest Martin and raised four children, two boys and two girls, all of whom are still living not far away.

Mrs. Malinda Garrett who passed away in 1900 had the first tombstone that was placed in this cemetery. Her husband W.C. (Clint) Garrett lived in the same place and raised his children. He died in 1954 and was placed along side of his long lost companion, but he never failed her in his long life. In his later years he lived in the home of his youngest son, Jim and his wife, Maggie Reese Garrett, at Floydada, Texas. His youngest daughter, Mamie Garrett Martin, cared for him. She is now the only survivor of the Clint Garrett family and lives in Spur. At the time of the death of Mrs. Will Barger, who had a little baby, Mrs. Garrett took the baby, nursed it along with her own baby until the family came for the Barger children. They were carried away and as far as I have heard, they were never seen or heard from again.

The graves were marked in later years by Johnnie Sparks with the usual marker. As he was agent for tombstones, he changed the names and dates to identify the Barger graves. These markers are still there and should remain for all time. I helped to find the dates and names to be used on them. Gilbert P. Boulter lived on what was known later as the W.H. (Will) Martin place. He built a house and put in a farm, set out trees, and other things. The large blooming willow trees that are there at this time were put out by Mrs. Belle Martin in about 1903. W.H. Martin sold this place to Mr. Paton Hinson in 1906, later to buy back 119 acres of the same land on which he built a house at Tap, Texas and put in a grocery store. He was running the store at the time of his death of January 22, 1908. he was laid to rest in the Red Mud cemetery, where he gave a portion of the land to make the cemetery and help to measure off the place to put it, along with Mr. J.E. (Jimmie) Sparks who gave the other half of the cemetery plot. Mr. and Mrs. J.E. (Aunt Maggie) Sparks were former residents of what was known as White River Community. They lived south of the Peterson place a-way back in the shinnery but in about 1905 or '06 they moved over to Tap on the place where they stayed until after his death. She had a son by a former marriage, Sebe Lambert, a daughter that moved away, Mrs. Mamie Holt, that lived in Mexico, or maybe Arizona. There was a son, Johnnie Sparks, most everyone of the old timers remember him. One little incident I can remember about him, is he was always ready to help his friends. He made a running trip to Dickens after a doctor for the little daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H.C. Peterson, Frankie, when she had diphtheria, although the ride was in vain because she died, he did his best.

In those days a chew of gum (wax, then) was hard to come by. So, when anyone was fortunate enough to get a square of gum, they saved it as long as possible. They chewed it in the daytime and stuck it up at night. Usually behind the door facing, window facing or under the table.

I heard a little story once about a guy who carried a girl to a dance and gave her some gum. While they were having refreshments, she stuck her gum behind the door facing. Then, when she went back to get it, it was gone. They hunted for it and asked if anyone knew who took it. When no one would tell, the old guy stood up in the middle of the floor and told them in no uncertain terms, "I can whip anyone who took Liza's wax." But he never knew because no one would confess to taking the wax. There was a spring of water located five or six miles east of the Tap store on what is now known as the McGinty place, just recently purchased by P.D. Hagin. This spring was in the Spur pasture and was considered public property to be used by anyone who needed the water. Everyone drove their stock over to the springs for water, they also hauled water from the spring to use for drinking water, wash water or anything they needed it for. They also used the location of the springs for gatherings of all kinds. I can remember going to Easter Egg hunts there It was located at the base of a high bluff which was covered with bushes and vines. Incidentally, the springs are not there now. After a man decided the place needed his assistance, he dug into the bluff and put a pipe there along with a big water trough for his stock and the spring went dry after that. Still another member of the Tap community was Edd McArthur, the community barber. He used a wooden box for a barber stool. One day a boy came in with his hair looking about what you see now. They thought it would be awful funny to cut his hair. So they made up the money by each one giving a nickel to pay for the haircut. Well, about the time he had cut the hair on one side as close as he could get it, the boy suspicioned something and went to look in the mirror. It offended him very much and he got his hat and went home about half cut. It made his mother angry so she sent him back and made the barber finish it.

There was a family who lived below the cemetery and ran a little country store long after the Tap store moved away. This family, by the name of Davis, had the store for years but eventually it went broke. There was a strip of shinnery country left unclaimed when the Spur Ranch pasture was fenced. They fenced the west pasture and put the fence on the west side of the river, then known as Catfish, but now is White River. When they fenced the Tap pasture the fence was placed on the east side of Red Mud leaving a strip of shinnery land about three or four miles wide as open country eligible to be filed on. When the cowboys and the buffalo hunters learned of this, they moved in and settled this strip of country. There was a man by the name of Dr. E. H. Boulter who filed on quite a bit of this territory. I think he lived on the Grandpa McArthur place at one time. At one time an uncle of Mrs. Mamie Garrett Martin, Uncle Ruff Parrish owned that place and lived there, also Uncle Clint, W.C. Garrett, her father, owned it at one time, the the 1800's and lived there.

The form of community gathering was when someone decided to get the entire community together for some desirable reason, such as a picnic, Easter egg hunt, a rattlesnake hunt, or anything of the kind.

I knew of one wedding that was conducted on the road near the springs when Lee Roy Martin and Stella Allcorn decided to be married. They came up to Tap looking for a preacher, but no one was there, so they headed out to look for one. As luck would have it, they met the preacher on the road and asked him if he would marry them. He agreed and as he had his Bible with him, he just stepped out of the buggy and they sat in their buggy and Mr. John H. Stephens, Minister of the Gospel, performed the ceremony and he pronounced them man and wife and they went on their way rejoicing. To this union, ten children were born. They lived at Red Mud for awhile but eventually they moved to California and raised their family. This lady was the sister of Mrs. Tom (Susie) McArthur of Tap, or Red Mud.

A bother of this man, Joe Martin, had a very formal wedding at a little town south of here about Claremont where they had a double wedding. Joe Martin and Sallie Shield, and Gid Greer and his lady friend were married.

Some of the local young folks really had trouble finding someone to marry them. I have the remembrance of a couple who decided they wanted to leave a party one night and get married. Some of their friends promised to go with them. They started out to find a place where they could buy the license. They first went to Crosbyton, but everything was closed. If you will keep in mind that they were using horse power to travel, you will better understand what a terrible long distance this group traveled that night. Not being able to get the license there, they had to go some other place. So they drove on down to Post, Texas. As there was a brother of mine, Forrest Martin, in the group and he had an uncle living at Post. They thought he might be able to help them. They went to his home and called him out and told him the situation and it was resolved. There was a man by the name of Mat Howell who lived over on the river. He married the daughter of A.J. McClain, the first county judge of Dickens. They had a large family of children with only one boy, Clark and several girls; Hester Howell Cravey, Carrie Howell Evans, Fanny May Howell Fuqua, and Mattie Howell Clipper.

In later years, some people moved to this locality by the name of Fry. The parents were Alec and Aunt Jennie. They had two sons, Abb and Gene. They both married and raised large families. Abb raised eight children and Gene and his wife Ruth raised ten, eight boys and two girls. The first line camp on Red Mud that I can remember was on the bank of Red Mud near the Uncle Tobie Smith place. Later a man by the name of John Weathers lived there. He had a family, two boys; Lee and Hawley and three girls, Tillie being the oldest. There was a guy by the name of Tud Arthur that ran the camp for a long time. He had a widowed sister, Mrs. McNeece. She had two children, a boy and a girl, they all lived with him a long time. Sid Benson, the husband of Emma Luce, lived there and run the camp for some time, until one day he said something to her she didn't like. She was churning in a gallon bucket; she threw the bucket at him and got her belongings and her bonnet and walked home which was the Tap store and didn't come back. Some time later, a son was born to her. She named him Carl Benson. She went back to teaching school and her parents raised the child. He was a friend of mine. He was later shot and killed in Spur. His father was also shot and killed in a border town.

This Mr. John Weathers I just mentioned, lived at the Red Mud line camp for some time. He rode the fence lines all along the creek and when he located a calf with no brand, he put his on it. One day he found one with no mother cow, so he decided to make a brand on it. After he got it down and started to brand it, as he was sitting on the calf, his horse decided to take off. As Mr. Weathers was sitting on top of the calf, he took a free ride. The horse took off, dragging the calf. There was no way for him to get off and take off the rope, so he held on and the horse did some fast running. By the time the horse gave out, the calf didn't need a brand. It was well branded. Some people were not too particular about the brand they used on some of the calves they branded out in the pasture. I heard a fellow say once that the meat was just as good as the meat from a different brand. Of course food was scarce and it was a long way to the Railroad and people were short on some things, but nothing like that ever came to our house.

TAP, TEXAS 1890-1979
by Mrs. Donnie Pace (Georgia Martin Pace)

When I sit down to concentrate on the stories of our location, some strange memories circulate through my imagination. The first thing I think of is why did all of those first "Nesters" who settled here, select this location for a permanent home. The only thing I can figure out was the old Spur ranch rejected a three or four mile strip of country from the west side of Catfish River, known as White River today, over to the East side of Red Mud and fenced it out of their pasture, leaving it open to be filed on.

When people learned of this open country, they came to record their homesteads. According to Scotch Bill Elliot's book, Mr. J.H. Parrish was the first white man to settle in Dickens County. (As later recorded, Mr. Ruff Parrish, uncle of Mrs. Mamie Martin, lived on what was known as the Grandpa McArthur place in the 1890's. Mrs. Martin remembers visiting there in later years.) When Mr. Parrish came to this county, he brought a fellow with him by the name of Alf Manning. In 1871, they went back to Callahan County, from which they had come to put together a herd of cattle and a bunch of hogs. They returned to Dickens County late in the fall of '71 with their animals.

Alf Manning was a buffalo hunter until 1875 at which time he went back to Callahan County and married Nerlie Thomas. They came back and settled in the Red Mud community, later known as Bolt, then still later as Tap. The Mannings lived on what was known as Grandpa McArthur place for some time. They later sold the land to Dr. E.H. Boulter and moved a little farther west and lived on what was later known as the Bill McArthur place. This land was later owned by W.C. (Clint) Garrett. A son was born to Alf and Nerlie Manning in June 1886. He was said to be the first white child born in this area. I can't say county because the county was not organized until 1890. At the death of Alf Manning, he was the oldest continuous resident of Dickens County. He, along with the other members of his family, lie at rest in the Red Mud Cemetery in sight of his old home place. W.C. (Clint) Garrett lived in this community in the early days. In the very beginning of the settlement of Tap, even before it was called Tap, a man by the name of Mr. R.M. Parrish came to this settlement and filed on a piece of land and settled here. He married a girl by the name of Adelia Manning, the sister of Alf Manning. She lived only a few years, before dying in childbirth. She and the baby were among the first graves placed here.

Mr. R.M. Parrish owned the place just south of the black top road now. It was known later as the Perkins place. Mr. R.M. Parrish sold this place to Mr. Elihu Luce and he moved away and settled on the plains near Cone, Texas. He later married a girl by the name of Katherine (Aunt Kit) Jones, the sister of Mrs. Malinda (Jones) Garrett, the mother of Mrs. Mamie Martin. This couple made their home at Cone, Texas, and raised a large family. They were a very fine family. In recent years a man by the name of Bonnie Parrish was brought back here to be placed in the Red Mud (Tap) cemetery near his mother, Mrs. Adelia Parrish. He had never married and had no family so he wanted to come home. There is still plenty of room for any old timer who desires to be brought back home. And I hope there always will be. It is a common custom, at this time, if you are planning to be brought back to what is now known as Red Mud, for you to select a place as your gravesite and place your name on it and stob it off. Some are having their lots curbed off with concrete several inches high. If you select a lot, you are responsible for keeping it cleaned and cared for. It is a hard job to hire anyone to clear the cemetery grounds, since so many people are on welfare, you can't hire any one to work, they will not work because they might lose their welfare assistance. In the years when the settlers were younger and more able to work it wasn't any trouble to get it worked, but now most all of the old timers are gone and the ones that are still here are not able to do much work. The set day for the working has been changed from June 6th, set by the "Woodmen of the World" in about the year 1909, as the lodge asked for the privilege of caring for the cemetery as their project. The lodge cared for the cemetery plots through a period of time of, I would say, about fifty (50) years or more, at which time they disbanded and the work was taken care of by the community men. Each individual with folks buried there took care of their own lots for years, but eventually, during the war there wasn't anyone left at home to care for the graves, so it was decided to hire someone to do the work. The pay came from donation, which is still the same way, with the extra help furnished by the county grader who does the work.

Most everyone in the surrounding area are still interested. Harry Martin, the president of the cemetery association, and his wife, the present secretary, seem to be very interested in keeping up the work. May the good work continue as long as time lasts. Harry Martin is the grandson of the Mr. Will Martin who gave the land for the cemetery along with Mr. J.E. Sparks. Metal grave markers were place at unmarked graves in June of 1980, by using the map of the cemetery constructed by Georgia Pace.

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