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Hansford County Towns

FARWELL, TEXAS
HANSFORD, TEXAS
HITCHLAND, TEXAS
MCKIBBEN, TEXAS
MORSE, TEXAS
OSLO, TEXAS
RECORD, TEXAS
SHER-HAN, TEXAS
SPEARMAN, TEXAS

FARWELL, TEXAS

Farwell, in the center of Hansford County about three miles east of what later became Gruver, was established in 1880 by the Canott family of Illinois and was the first town in the county.

Water was supplied to the settlement by a hand-dug well 200 feet deep.

Like Farwell in Parmer County, the Hansford County community was named for John V. Farwell, a Chicago merchant and a principal in the Capitol Syndicate, which built the present Capitol building in Austin.

The county's first newspaper, the Farwell Graphic, was established in Farwell, which at one time also had a livery stable, store, hotel, saloon, and butcher shop.

A post office was established there in 1887 but was moved to Hansford in 1894. Farwell rapidly fell into oblivion after 1889, when it lost a county seat election to Hansford.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hansford County Historical Commission, Hansford County, Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Taylor, 1980?). Dotty Jones, A Search for Opportunity: A History of Hansford County (Gruver, Texas: Jones, 1965).

H. Allen Anderson



HANSFORD, TEXAS

Hansford, on Palo Duro Creek in eastern Hansford County, was established by J. H. (Huff) Wright and named for John M. Hansford, a physician and frontier judge.

A post office was established there in August 1887 with James McGee as postmaster.

In 1889 the settlement became the county seat after a contest with Farwell. The first newspaper in the town was the Hansford Herald, published after 1889 by H. E. G. Putnam.

This paper was discontinued sometime in 1890, when its offices were destroyed by a tornado.

In 1907 the Hansford Investigator was established by Judge A. E. Townsend. When this paper closed, the Hansford Headlight was established by S. B. Hale.

The first bank in the county opened at Hansford in 1907 with James H. Cator as president. Hansford had a population of 100 in 1915, when its businesses included the bank, the Hansford Headlight, and a lumber and grain firm operated by B. O. Cator.

The community declined in the 1920s when the North Texas and Santa Fe Railway bypassed it in favor of Spearman.

Spearman became the new county seat, and the Hansford post office and most of its people and businesses moved there. By 1948 no population was reported for Hansford. The 1975 county highway map showed a cemetery at the Hansford site.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hansford County Historical Commission, Hansford County, Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Taylor, 1980?). Dotty Jones, A Search for Opportunity: A History of Hansford County (Gruver, Texas: Jones, 1965).

Tracey L. Compton



HITCHLAND, TEXAS

Hitchland, on a local road and the Texas-Oklahoma line in northern Hansford County, was named for J. H. and Charles A. Hitch, early settlers and landowners in the vicinity.

Serving an area devoted to ranching and grain-farming, Hitchland became a town when the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway was built across the county in the 1920s.

A post office was established at the townsite in July 1930, with Myrtle L. McComas as postmistress. The office was discontinued in January 1955, and local mail was routed through Guymon, Oklahoma. The Hitchland school joined the Gruver Independent School District in 1954.

Hitchland reported a population of 100 in 1939 and also in 1948, when three businesses and a post office made up the community. By 1980 the population had declined to twenty-seven, and it continued to be reported at that level in the early 1990s.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hansford County Historical Commission, Hansford County, Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Taylor, 1980?). S. G. Reed, A History of the Texas Railroads (Houston: St. Clair, 1941; rpt., New York: Arno, 1981).

Tracey L. Compton



MCKIBBEN, TEXAS

McKibben, a switch on the North Texas and Santa Fe Railway in southeastern Hansford County, was established and named for a railroad official in 1929 when the line was built.

A rural community grew up around the depot, which still stands on Farm Road 520 southwest of Spearman.

H. Allen Anderson



MORSE, TEXAS

Morse is fourteen miles southwest of Gruver in southwestern Hansford County in an area settled in the 1870s by cattlemen Robert and James H. Cator, who later located their headquarters on Palo Duro Creek.

The community was established in 1929, when the North Texas and Santa Fe Railway reached the area.

The new settlement was named for Charles A. Morse, chief engineer of the railroad. In the late 1930s the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf intersected the Santa Fe at Morse.

A post office opened in 1929, with Ruth Etta Powers as postmistress, and a newspaper, the Morse Monitor, was first issued on March 27, 1929.

In 1930 the town had its first school. Five stores and a population of ninety-five were reported at Morse in 1939 and three stores and a population of 200 in 1948.

In 1977 the Morse and Pringle schools were consolidated, and in the early 1980s the Pringle-Morse school was located in Morse.

By 1980 Morse had a population of 150, the post office, and six businesses. In 1990 its population was still reported as 150.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hansford County Historical Commission, Hansford County, Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Taylor, 1980?). Dotty Jones, A Search for Opportunity: A History of Hansford County (Gruver, Texas: Jones, 1965).

Tracey L. Compton



OSLO, TEXAS

Oslo, in the northwestern corner of Hansford County, was founded in 1908 by the Anders L. Mordt Land Company. Mordt, who immigrated to the United States from Norway in 1904, established his company headquarters in Guymon, Oklahoma.

He became a sales agent for the ranch holdings of R. M. Thomson and R. T. Anderson in Hansford County, Texas, and placed advertisements in several leading Norwegian-language publications in the Midwest, including the Skandinaven, edited by his father-in-law, Nicolay A. Grevstad.

Mordt arranged for potential buyers to make excursions by train to the site he named Oslo after the Norwegian capital. Norwegians throughout the midwestern states quickly responded to Mordt's ads, and by the spring of 1909 the first settlers had arrived.

The first building was a schoolhouse, which doubled for a time as a church and community meetingplace. Pastor Christian Heltne of the United Norwegian Lutheran Church organized a congregation in December of that year, and under his leadership they built a wooden church building in 1911.

A copper bell and altar painting were commissioned and shipped from Norway, but the bell went down with the Titanic. As part of his promotional campaign, Mordt published a weekly paper in the Norwegian language, the Oslo Posten, from his headquarters in Guymon.

He platted a townsite three miles south of the church and named the streets. However, the town was doomed by the failure of the Denver and Gulf Railroad Company to build a line through the area. A prolonged drought beginning in 1913 resulted in the end of Mordt's land scheme.

Despite the famine, more than thirty Norwegian families stayed to farm the plains. By the 1920s they had formed a tightly knit community centered around the school and church.

Oslo retained much of its ethnic character into the 1930s; such foods as lutefisk and lefse were featured at festive social occasions, church services were conducted in Norwegian, and the language continued to be spoken in many homes.

But then the improvement of highway transportation and the consolidation of the Oslo school district with that of Gruver, eighteen miles southeast, resulted in a gradual assimilation. Nevertheless, the Oslo community had remained well defined.

In 1949 the area residents built a new church of Austin stone. The building burned to the ground on February 18, 1950, the eve of its dedication, and the congregation, with help from emergency funds, rebuilt and dedicated the structure in October of that year.

A new pipe organ was installed in 1969, and a new addition was completed in 1974. Attended by descendants of the original settlers, the Oslo Lutheran Church remains one of the most imposing churches in the Texas Panhandle.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hansford County Historical Commission, Hansford County, Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Taylor, 1980?). Peter L. Petersen, "A New Oslo on the Plains," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 49 (1976).

H. Allen Anderson



RECORD, TEXAS

Record, a ranching and wheat-growing community in central Hansford County, was settled by ranchers in the late 1880s and by homesteaders from Illinois and Indiana during the early 1900s.

Mail was delivered from nearby Gruver until December 1925, when a post office was established in Record.

The office was closed in April 1929, and the community declined.

Record did not appear on county maps of the 1930s.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hansford County Historical Commission, Hansford County, Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Taylor, 1980?). Arthur Hecht, comp., Postal History in the Texas Panhandle (Canyon, Texas: Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, 1960).

H. Allen Anderson

SHER-HAN, TEXAS

Sher-Han was an industrial camp in northwestern Hansford County near the Oklahoma border. Originally this community was composed of three separate camps constructed during World War II for employees of the Phillips Petroleum Company, the Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Company, and the Michigan Wisconsin Pipe Line Company.

Since the site was in a remote location with no paved roads, low-rent housing was provided by the companies for their employees working at the Phillips gasoline compressor stations. Most of the houses were erected between 1944 and 1949.

The name Sher-Han was derived from the Phillips Hansford natural gas liquids extraction plant, which started up in December 1944, and its Sherman plant, which began operation in 1949.

At first the camps and facilities they served were planned to be closer to Guymon, Oklahoma, since they took gas from the Hugoton field, but they were instead placed south of the state line to take advantage of cheaper property tax rates in Texas.

Two school buses carried children to and from schools in Guymon, and later in Gruver, Texas, after roads were completed from that town.

At its peak the Phillips camp contained more than 300 residents and eighty-five houses, eleven of which were occupied by supervisors. The two pipeline company camps had twenty-eight housing units.

There was also a grocery store, a small general store that sold gasoline, a Baptist church, and a community center. A ball park, tennis courts, and a nine-hole golf course provided recreation.

In 1957-58 twenty-five houses were erected for the Texas Booster Station. In 1962 Phillips built a helium extraction plant near Sher-Han and in 1978 added an ethane plant to the complex.

Despite these latest additions, the construction of paved roads resulted in a decline in Sher-Han's resident population during the 1960s. The stores and recreation facilities were closed, and the church building was moved to Guymon, where it now serves a Hispanic congregation. All of the houses were sold and most of them were moved to neighboring towns. Although Michigan Wisconsin's E. G. Hill Compressor Station, located on the state line, has remained in continuous operation since 1949, the last of its employees' houses was sold and moved by 1969. By 1985 only eight houses, all individually owned, remained at the Phillips camp and two at the Texas Booster Station. The Sher-Han community building was still in use.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: T. Lindsay Baker, Ghost Towns of Texas (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986).

H. Allen Anderson

SPEARMAN, TEXAS

Spearman, the county seat of Hansford County, is on State Highway 15 in the southeastern part of the county. It was platted in May 1917 in anticipation of construction of the North Texas and Santa Fe Railway.

A post office opened that year. By that time E. C. Hays had a store near the site, which was named for Thomas E. Spearman, a vice president of the line. World War I delayed completion of the railroad from Shattuck, Oklahoma, until October 1919, but Spearman already was thriving; several churches and businesses had moved in from Hansford.

Spearman remained the terminus of the railroad until 1931, when the line was extended to Morse and points south. The town was incorporated in 1921 and had thirty businesses, a brick school building, and a population of 1,000 by 1926.

Although two disastrous fires (in 1922 and 1924) destroyed most of the business district, more durable buildings, brick streets, and an up-to-date water system were later built.

In a 1929 county seat election Spearman defeated Hansford. Spearman businessmen generously aided other citizens during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl.

Many of the town's vacant lots were planted in wheat. Bumper wheat crops during World War II, the post-war building boom, and the oil and gas boom of the 1950s contributed to the town's rapid growth. Spearman had a population of 1,105 in 1940 and 4,000 in 1964.

Although it had dropped to 3,413 by 1980, the benefits of the oil and agricultural booms were visible in its feedlots, grain storage and marketing outlets, gas processing plant, municipal airport, and hospital and retirement center. A small museum occupied the former home of the Santa Fe railroad agent.

In 1990 the population was 3,197.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hansford County Historical Commission, Hansford County, Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Taylor, 1980?). Kathleen E. and Clifton R. St. Clair, eds., Little Towns of Texas (Jacksonville, Texas: Jayroe Graphic Arts, 1982).

H. Allen Anderson

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This page was last updated January 7, 2005.