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Hutchinson County Towns

Source: The Handbook of Texas Online

JEFFRY, TEXAS
ISOM, TEXAS
GEWHITT, TEXAS
PLEMONS, TEXAS
DIAL, TEXAS
TEXROY, TEXAS
SIGNAL HILL, TEXAS
ELECTRIC CITY, TEXAS
BELLE PLAIN, TEXAS
ADOBE WALLS, TEXAS

JEFFRY, TEXAS

Jeffry, in northeastern Hutchinson County, had a post office from March 1902 to October 1918, after which mail was sent to Adobe Walls. Area children attended the Holt School, built in 1906 on land donated by Ben Holt. This school reported fifty-seven students around 1916-18 but only seven in 1928. In 1949 the school was consolidated with the Pringle and Spearman schools, and its building was subsequently used as a community center. A 1982 map showed a cemetery nearby.

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

H. Allen Anderson



ISOM, TEXAS

Isom, once an independent town, is now the oldest of several communities that collectively make up the city of Borger, in south central Hutchinson County. It was founded in 1898 by rancher John F. Weatherly, who built a dugout on the site for his family, and originally dubbed Granada. It was renamed by Weatherly's wife, Maggie, for a now-defunct town in her home state of West Virginia. As Weatherly acquired more land, other settlers moved in.

In 1900 a post office was established, and Weatherly opened the town's first store in the basement of his stone ranchhouse. A school was begun in 1907, and Maggie Weatherly opened a cafe. The post office remained in operation until October 1919, when the mail was directed to Plemons. Although the Weatherlys moved to the town of Panhandle in 1922, they retained ownership of the townsite of Isom. In May 1926, after an oil boom resulted in the founding of Borger, Weatherly moved the town to the Santa Fe Railroad's oilfield branch line and platted it adjacent to Borger. First Street marked the dividing line; all lots south of the street were in Isom.

For seven months, both towns vied for the coveted role of capital of the county's oilfields. The railroad depot and several oil-well supply houses were located in Isom, and newspaper ads attracted many who hoped to profit from the boom. On December 1, however, 1,200 residents successfully petitioned that Isom be merged with Borger. By 1927 the consolidation of the Isom school with that of Borger had made the merger complete.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). F. Stanley, The Isom, Texas, Story (Nazareth, Texas, 1973).

H. Allen Anderson



GEWHITT, TEXAS

Gewhitt, five miles south of Stinnett in southwestern Hutchinson County, was named for George Whittenburg, son of James A. Whittenburg, who managed the family's ranch properties. A Gewhitt grade school was in operation for several years. On May 26, 1927, after the opening of the Panhandle oilfield, a post office was established in the town's general store. It remained in operation until 1942, after which mail was sent to Stinnett. Throughout the 1940s Gewhitt had a population of sixty but declined afterward.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Arthur Hecht, comp., Postal History in the Texas Panhandle (Canyon, Texas: Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, 1960). Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). Fred Tarpley, 1001 Texas Place Names (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980).

H. Allen Anderson



PLEMONS, TEXAS

Plemons had its beginning in 1898 when James A. Whittenburg, an area rancher, built his dugout in a hill overlooking a bend in the Canadian River in central Hutchinson County. The site was named for Barney Plemons, the son of Amarillo judge and state legislator William Buford Plemons, who had filed on land there. When the county was organized in the spring of 1901, Plemons was chosen county seat.

A school and a post office were established, and a road was laid out from Plemons toward Dumas in Moore County. A two-story frame courthouse was built later that year, replacing a smaller temporary structure. Plemons experienced slow growth as a river-crossing town for area ranches, including the Turkey Track and Tar Box outfits. Between 1902 and 1905, a wagonyard, a barbershop, a doctor's office, a drugstore, and a mercantile store were established, and at least fifteen families made Plemons their home.

William (Billy) Dixon, former buffalo hunter, scout, and the county's first sheriff, moved his growing family to Plemons and for three years operated a boarding house. Despite the fact that his three oldest children went to school in Plemons, Dixon claimed that he "found living in town worse than it could have been in jail." Although a permanent church building was never constructed, a parsonage was built, and services were held either in the school or the courthouse. The community also became noted for its string band and five-day teacher institutes.

Plemons declined when the Amarillo branch line of the Rock Island line bypassed it. A special election in the fall of 1926 made the new town of Stinnett, ten miles to the northwest and on the railroad, county seat. Nevertheless, Plemons managed to survive for two more decades with hopes of profiting from the county's oil boom. Considerable excitement occurred on March 18, 1932, when W. J. (Shine) Popejoy, the king of the Texas bootleggers, held up the town bank.

In 1940 Plemons reported three businesses and a population of 100. By the 1950s, however, the town fell into oblivion as more residents moved to neighboring communities. The post office was closed in June 1952. Though the Plemons Independent School District has been in continuous existence since 1925, the town had no official population listings. Only the cemetery stands as a reminder of its heyday.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Olive K. Dixon, Life of "Billy" Dixon (1914; rev. ed., Dallas: Turner, 1927; facsimile, Austin: State House, 1987). Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). John L. McCarty, Adobe Walls Bride (San Antonio: Naylor, 1955). Jerry Sinise, Black Gold and Red Lights (Burnet, Texas: Eakin Press, 1982). F. Stanley, The Plemons Story (Nazareth, Texas, 1973).

H. Allen Anderson



DIAL, TEXAS

Dial, also known as Gulf Dial, is on Farm Road 2277 southeast of Stinnett in central Hutchinson County. It was named for the Dial Ranch, on which it was established in 1925, when the Gulf Oil Company drilled its Dial No. 1 well, the first in the county north of the Canadian River. By 1926 a sizable oil town, complete with a post office, rose on the site. The improvement of highways and transportation facilities, however, which ended the oil subsidiary-camp system, led to the town's demise. By 1976 the post office had been discontinued. In the 1980s several wells at the site were still in production. Dial had a population estimated at eighty from 1968 to 1990.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: N. D. Bartlett, "Discovery of the Panhandle Oil and Gas Field," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 12 (1939).

H. Allen Anderson



TEXROY, TEXAS

Texroy, a small oilfield community five miles southeast of Borger in southern Hutchinson County, was established in the late 1920s during the height of the local oil boom and was named for S. D. (Tex) McIlroy, founder of the Dixon Creek Oil and Refinery Company. The Texroy community reportedly had a population of fifty in 1948 and was on a mail route from White Deer. It was eventually absorbed by Borger.

H. Allen Anderson



SIGNAL HILL, TEXAS

Signal Hill was a small oil boom camp a mile and a half east of Stinnett in Hutchinson County. It was founded in 1926 by Earl Thompson on a tentative survey of the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railway and had a brief but uninhibited life as a quasi-independent community during the boom of the late 1920s. Throughout this time it was generally regarded as a hangout for bootleggers, prostitutes, gamblers, and other undesirables who drifted into the oil fields.

Among the noted criminals who frequented Signal Hill were Ray Terrell, Ace Pendleton, Matt Kimes, and the bootlegging brothers Torrance and W. J. (Shine) Popejoy. At its peak in 1926-27, the camp was infested with beer emporiums, brothels, gambling dens, speakeasies, and other places of ill repute. Thompson opened a bank in Signal Hill. In addition, the settlement contained four drugstores, a bakery, an ice house, a dozen filling stations, a welding shop, a boiler shop, a hardware store, three oil-supply houses, a meat market, a movie house, and several hotels and rooming houses.

One citizen recalled that the post office was the only place in the camp that did not sell alcoholic beverages. After the first cleanup of the Borger area by Texas Rangers in 1927, Signal Hill's population rapidly decreased, as its centers of vice were shut down. The proposed railroad spur was never built, and the community was abandoned in about a year.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Jerry Sinise, Black Gold and Red Lights (Burnet, Texas: Eakin Press, 1982). F. Stanley, The Signal Hill Story (Nazareth, Texas, 1973).

H. Allen Anderson



ELECTRIC CITY, TEXAS

Electric City was established on the south bank of the Canadian River in south central Hutchinson County. It began in July 1926 with the construction of the Panhandle Power and Light Company's Riverview Power Plant, three miles north of Borger. Men worked day and night until the plant was completed, so that electricity could be made available to neighboring oilfields as soon as possible. The plant's turbines began turning in November.

Soon a subsidiary camp grew around the facility as the county's oil boom gained momentum. Within weeks, plant employees and oilfield workers had formed a sizable settlement, complete with dirt streets. With the improvement of local highways and transportation, however, employees no longer found it necessary to live next to the plant. By 1948 Electric City's population numbered only five. The plant was owned by Southwestern Public Service by the mid-1980s. At that time there was no longer a population at the site, since the plant was an easy commute from Borger.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bobby D. Weaver, ed., Panhandle Petroleum (Amarillo: Miller National Corporation, 1982).

H. Allen Anderson



BELLE PLAIN, TEXAS

(Moore County).

Belle Plain was east of Dumas in eastern Moore County. The site was settled in 1927, when certain of the lawless element, who had been driven out of Borger by the Texas Rangers, fled Hutchinson County and set up shop just across the county line. The development consisted mostly of crude, hastily built shacks and quickly became a booming, bawdy settlement that specialized in bootleg beer and whiskey, gambling dens, and brothels.

Almost as quickly as it had grown, the town shrank, as its temporary residents moved away to escape the law again. By 1929 only the school, a store, and a filling station remained. The post office was closed and mail routed to Stinnett in 1930. Many buildings were either torn down or allowed to fall apart, while others were moved to Altman (now Sunray). By the time prohibition was repealed in 1933, Belle Plain had ceased to exist.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Myrna Tryon Thomas, The Windswept Land: A History of Moore City (Dumas, Texas, 1967).

H. Allen Anderson



WILCO, TEXAS

Wilco (originally Wilcoe), on Farm Road 2587 in extreme northeastern Hartley County, was founded in 1909 by the brothers James Edward and Frank B. Wilson, ranchers and land developers who came with their families from Effingham, Kansas. The Wilsons' brother John and his wife, Katie, also helped promote the proposed townsite. The Wilsons established a mercantile store and a combination school and church near their new ranch headquarters, laid out a park with planted trees, and soon sold several town lots.

Wilco was one of the townsites included in the proposed Enid, Ochiltree, and Western Railroad line, and the tracks were laid from Dalhart to Wilco before the railroad plans fell through. Service on this line continued until 1911, however, and later on it was connected with a spur of the Rock Island line to Pringle in Hutchinson County. By 1940 only the school remained. Ed Wilson and his wife lived at Wilco until they moved to Dalhart in the late 1940s. Their heirs continued to occupy the ranchhouse. A grain elevator stands near the railroad spur, and the mail is routed through Dalhart.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Lillie Mae Hunter, The Book of Years: A History of Dallam and Hartley Counties (Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1969).

Jennie Rose Powell



ADOBE WALLS, TEXAS

Adobe Walls was the name given several trading posts and later a ranching community located seventeen miles northeast of Stinnett and just north of the Canadian River in what is now northeastern Hutchinson County. The first trading post in the area seems to have been established in early 1843 by representatives of the trading firm of Bent, St. Vrain and Company, which hoped to trade with the Comanches and Kiowas.

These Indians avoided Bent's Fort, the company's main headquarters on the upper Arkansas River near La Junta, Colorado, because enemies, the Cheyennes and Arapahoes, lived in the area. The new satellite post was situated on a stream that became known as Bent's (now Bent) Creek. Company traders worked originally from tepees and later from log structures. Probably no real fort was built on the site before 1846. Sometime after September 1845 William Bent and Ceran St. Vrain, chief partners in the firm, arrived with Mexican adobe makers to replace the log establishment with Fort Adobe, a structure eighty feet square, with nine-foot walls and only one entrance.

Occupation of Fort Adobe was sporadic, and by 1848 Indian hostility had resulted in its closure. That fall a momentary peace was effected, and Bent sought to reopen the post by sending Christopher (Kit) Carson, Lucien Maxwell, and five other employees to the Canadian. Resistance from the Jicarilla Apaches, however, forced Carson's group to cache the trade goods and buffalo robes they had acquired and return to Bent's Fort.

Soon after, several Comanches persuaded Bent to make another try at resuming trade at Fort Adobe. A thirteen-man party, led by R. W. (Dick) Wootton, encountered restive Comanches at the fort and finally conducted trade through a window cut in the wall. In the spring of 1849, in a last concerted effort to revive the post, Bent accompanied several ox-drawn wagons to the Canadian. After part of his stock was killed by Indians, he blew up the fort's interior with gunpowder and abandoned the Panhandle trade to the Comancheros.

The adobe ruins thus became a familiar landmark to both Indians and Comancheros and to any white man who dared to venture into the heart of Comanchería. In November 1864 Carson, now a colonel of volunteers, used the walls of Fort Adobe to rest his 300 men and their horses after sacking a Kiowa village during a campaign against the tribes of the southern Plains. The group withstood several Indian attacks at the fort before withdrawing (see
ADOBE WALLS, FIRST BATTLE OF).

In March 1874 merchants from Dodge City, Kansas, following the buffalo hunters south into the Texas Panhandle, established a large complex, called the Myers and Leonard Store, about a mile north of the Fort Adobe ruins. This business, which included a corral and restaurant, was joined in April 1874 by a second store operated by Charles Rath and Company. Shortly afterward James N. Hanrahan and Rath opened a saloon, and Tom O'Keefe started a blacksmith shop. By the end of spring, 200 to 300 buffalo hunters roamed the area, and trade at Adobe Walls boomed. After an Indian uprising called the second battle of Adobe Walls (June 1874) both merchants and hunters abandoned the site.

In the early 1880s James M. Coburn established his Turkey Track Ranch headquarters near the old battle site and persuaded William (Billy) Dixon, a scout and survivor of the 1874 battle, to homestead several sections nearby. Dixon built his house at the ruins of Fort Adobe. In August 1887 a post office was established at the Dixon homestead, where Dixon and S. G. Carter also operated a ranch-supply store. Dixon served as postmaster until 1901, when he was elected the county's first sheriff. He resigned shortly afterward and about 1902 moved to Plemons.

A school was also established; after the first building burned in 1920, school was conducted on the second floor of Dixon's old home until a new structure could be built. Although the Dodge City Times advertised Adobe Walls as "a fine settlement with some twenty families," there never was a real community in the area except for the ranchers and their employees and families. The post office remained in operation until October 1921. From 1940 until 1970 Adobe Walls was listed in the Texas Almanac as having a population of fifteen. In 1987 a few scattered ranch dwellings marked the area.

During the 1920s several local and state projects were launched to mark the battle site at Adobe Walls and make it more accessible. In 1923 the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society acquired a six-acre tract that contained the remains of the 1874 trading post. The society conducted major archeological excavations at this site in the 1970s. In 1978 the complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places and recognized as a Texas state archeological landmark.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: T. Lindsay Baker and Billy R. Harrison, Adobe Walls: The History and Archaeology of the 1874 Trading Post (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986). T. Lindsay Baker, Ghost Towns of Texas (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986). George Bird Grinnell, "Bent's Old Fort and Its Builders," Collections of the Kansas State Historical Society, 1919-1922 15 (1923). Arthur Hecht, comp., Postal History in the Texas Panhandle (Canyon, Texas: Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, 1960). Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). David Lavender, Bent's Fort (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1954). Mildred P. Mayhall, The Kiowas (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1962; 2d ed. 1971). John L. McCarty, Adobe Walls Bride (San Antonio: Naylor, 1955). Frederick W. Rathjen, The Texas Panhandle Frontier (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1973).

H. Allen Anderson

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