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Roberts County Biographies

OLIVE KING DIXON (1873-1956)


Thomas O'Laughlin (O'Loughlin in many sources), the first white to settle his family permanently in the Texas Panhandle, was born in Ireland in 1844. He immigrated with his family to the American Midwest and during the Civil War worked as a government teamster at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

There he met Ellen Gilmore, whose parents had immigrated from Ireland to Dubuque, Iowa. They were married at her hometown in 1869. Soon afterward they moved to the Kansas frontier and started a small dugout store on the Santa Fe Railroad at Pierceville, Ellsworth County. There they had two children.

In 1874 the O'Laughlins were compelled to flee their homestead after being warned of a party of Cheyennes coming north on a rampage. These disgruntled warriors destroyed the family's possessions and burned the dugout. After that the family went to Lakin, Kansas, where Tom's brother John ran a store.

During a Christmas visit to Dubuque in December, while O'Laughlin was in Texas hunting buffalo, his wife gave birth to a third child. In the spring of 1875 the O'Laughlins moved from Dodge City to the Panhandle, following the troops sent to establish Fort Elliott. After camping with the troops on Cantonment Creek, they squatted on a section of land halfway between the new fort and the buffalo camp of Hidetown.

Three months after they settled there, the O'Laughlins received word of the death of their daughter from rabies. Having been bitten by an infected skunk, she had been left behind in Lakin, where medical attention was available. When the town of Sweetwater, later Mobeetie, was founded on O'Laughlin's section, he was persuaded to trade it in for 100 lots in the new townsite.

The O'Laughlins built a restaurant and a boarding house out of pickets and sod in Mobeetie. Charles Goodnight was said to have passed the night there in 1876 when he first came to the Panhandle to establish the JA Ranch. A year later his wife, Mary Dyer Goodnight, reportedly spent her first night in the Panhandle with the O'Laughlins.

The family saw their share of quarrels settled by guns; the fatal shooting of Granger Dyer by John McCabe occurred in front of O'Laughlin's restaurant. Once the buffalo were killed off, O'Laughlin started a cattle herd, while his wife continued to operate the boarding house.

After Wheeler County was organized in 1879 he often served as a juror. In 1885 the O'Laughlins expanded their business into the frame Grand Central Hotel, one of the town's most ornate buildings. The O'Laughlins' younger son died in 1895. During this time, O'Laughlin began breeding Hereford and shorthorn cattle on land in Gray County.

In 1901, after Mobeetie declined, the O'Laughlin family moved to Miami, in Roberts County. There Miles, the remaining son, subsequently became an outstanding citizen. In 1904 he married Annie Elizabeth Earl, who had worked in Mobeetie as a governess to the children of "Big Johnny" Jones.

Miles O'Laughlin, who had three sons, took over the family's ranching operations after the death of his father in Miami on February 23, 1923. His mother died in Miami on January 18, 1931. Both are buried in the Miami cemetery.

After Miles's death in 1942 successive generations of O'Laughlins continued to call Miami their home.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Ernest R. Archambeau, "The First Federal Census in the Panhandle, 1880," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 23 (1950). Sallie B. Harris, comp., Hide Town in the Texas Panhandle: 100 Years in Wheeler County and the Panhandle of Texas (Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1968). History of Miami and Roberts County (Miami, Texas: Roberts County Historical Committee, 1976). Millie Jones Porter, Memory Cups of Panhandle Pioneers (Clarendon, Texas: Clarendon Press, 1945). Glenn Shirley, Temple Houston (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980).

H. Allen Anderson


Olive King Dixon was born on January 30, 1873, on Bent Mountain, eighteen miles southwest of Roanoke, Virginia, the eighth of ten children of Robert Woods and Mary Jane (Blankenship) King. The family estate had been given by the king of England to Gen. Andrew Lewis, Olive's great-grandfather, for his role in Lord Dunmore's War (1774) and was thus known as the Lewis grant.

When Olive was seven her father, a Civil War veteran, succumbed to an outbreak of smallpox. Olive and her sister Margaret were sent to Decatur, Alabama, to live with a cousin, Dora King Wade, and her husband Miles, who had two sons of their own. Olive remained at the Wade home and attended school in Decatur until she was sixteen, when she returned to Virginia.

In the meantime two of her brothers, Albert Richard and John Archie, had gone to the Texas Panhandle in the 1880s to work for the Seven K and Cresswell ranches. Albert subsequently married and settled in Lipscomb County, and Archie settled in Roberts County; both were doing well as ranchers on their own.

In 1893 Olive visited her brothers and spent most of her time at the home of Archie, who had married Sena Walstad on Christmas Eve, 1890, and now had an infant son, Woods.

While Olive was there, James A. Whittenburg offered her the job of teaching at Garden Creek School, between Tallahone and Reynolds creeks, organized for the children of the Whittenburg and Newby families. She accepted, and soon afterward Olive met and was courted by the veteran plainsman William (Billy) Dixon.

Billy and Olive were married on October 18, 1894, at his Adobe Walls homestead on the Turkey Track Ranch. Rev. C. V. Bailey, a Methodist minister, came a hundred miles from Mobeetie to perform the ceremony. Later Olive stated that for three years after her marriage she was the only woman living in Hutchinson County.

The Dixons lived at Adobe Walls until 1902, when they moved to Plemons. By then they had four children; three more were added after their move to Cimarron County, Oklahoma, in 1906. Before her husband's death on March 9, 1913, Olive carefully recorded his recollections of his younger years as a buffalo hunter and army scout.

These she compiled and published as the Life of Billy Dixon, an important source of Panhandle history, in 1914. Frederick S. Barde, an Oklahoma western writer, helped her edit the manuscript.

Mrs. Dixon and her children moved briefly to Texline, then in 1915 to Canyon. They continued to farm the Cimarron County homestead until 1917, when they sold it and moved to Miami, in Roberts County. There she wrote sketches of Panhandle history for area newspapers, and several of her pieces also appeared in various magazines.

In 1923 she made a memorable trip east to visit relatives and interview Gen. Nelson A. Miles and others who had known her husband and who attested to the truth of his exploits. As a charter member of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, Mrs. Dixon led the successful effort in 1924 to place historical markers at the Adobe Walls and Buffalo Wallow battle sites.

In 1929 she moved to Amarillo and was hired as a part-time staff writer by the Amarillo Globe-News. She was made a salaried reporter in 1937 and was in charge of preparing the Globe-News Golden Anniversary Edition of August 14, 1938.

She remained with the Amarillo newspapers until her death, on March 17, 1956. She was interred in Llano Cemetery, Amarillo. Dixon heirs live throughout much of West Texas, Eastern New Mexico, and the Pacific Northwest.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Amarillo Daily News, March 19, 1956. Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). John L. McCarty, Adobe Walls Bride (San Antonio: Naylor, 1955).

H. Allen Anderson


James Andrew Whittenburg, cattleman, the son of George and Sarah (Jarvis) Whittenburg, was born on May 7, 1857, in Chillicothe, Missouri. After the Civil War Whittenburg's imagination was fired by reports of the cattle trade, and at the age of twelve he devised plans to join his older brothers in Texas.

When his mother sent him out for wood one morning, he caught a freight train that took him as far as the Indian Territory. After selling various trinkets for meals, lodging, and passage on the Red River ferry to Texas, he spent the next five years working with his brothers on Ben Slaughter's ranch in Parker County. In four years he had his own herd of twenty head.

When he arrived back at his home at age seventeen, he walked in the door carrying a load of wood. After attending school for a year, he returned to Texas and went to work for John Proffitt at Fort Belknap, in Young County. During the next four years Whittenburg made several drives over the Western Trail to Dodge City; on one drive he suffered from heatstroke, which affected his eyes and left him almost blind for the rest of his life.

Nevertheless, by 1878 Whittenburg owned over 100 cattle. At that time he filed on eighty acres of land in Young County. There he met Tennessee Ann (Tennie) Parham, whom he married on July 3, 1879. They had three children, one of whom died in infancy. The Whittenburgs lived and ran their cattle for a time in Lamar County.

However, a severe drought compelled them to parlay their holdings into a larger spread in Wilbarger County. After purchasing a wagon and team, the couple peddled groceries and supplies, bought at Doan's Crossing, to the Comanches and other tribes in western Oklahoma.

They soon won a reputation among the Indians as shrewd traders, and husband and wife took turns standing, shotgun in hand, on night guard over the team and supplies. During one venture the Comanche chief Big Bow became impressed with their son George's blond hair and offered from seventy-five to a hundred horses for the boy, promising to make him a chief.

In 1887 Whittenburg filed claim on land in Roberts County near Miami. Here he carried the mail from Miami to the Adobe Walls post office, then run by William (Billy) Dixon. George became one of Olive King Dixon's five pupils at Garden Creek School. Whittenburg was instrumental in the organization of Roberts County and served as a commissioner.

When Oklahoma was opened for settlement in 1889, he grazed cattle in Kay County and for four years carried mail on a star route. Whittenburg continued his operations in Oklahoma until 1898, when he filed on four sections of land in the center of Hutchinson County.

Panhandle, in Carson County, was the family's banking and supply center until 1901, when the townsite of Plemons was platted on land donated from the Whittenburg homestead section. Because of his father's failing eyesight, George took charge of the physical labor and growing management responsibilities of the Whittenburgs' MM Ranch, which accumulated 25,000 acres and over 3,000 cattle by 1920.

In 1924 oil was discovered on the Whittenburg holdings. After the death of his wife in 1927, Whittenburg moved to Amarillo and rented rooms at the Amarillo Hotel. On October 19, 1936, Whittenburg died of injuries he received when the car in which he was riding collided with a freight train in Amarillo. He was buried in the Dreamland Cemetery in Canyon.

The family's MM Cattle Company, headed by Roy Robert Whittenburg, still operated the ranch in Hutchinson County in 1986. One of his grandsons, S. B. Whittenburg, founded the Amarillo Times, which he merged with the Globe-News after buying an interest in the company in 1951.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Amarillo Daily News, October 20, 1936. Garland H. Bell, "Willis P. Hedgecoke," in Amarillo Genealogical Society, Texas Panhandle Forefathers, comp. Barbara C. Spray (Dallas: National ShareGraphics, 1983). Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). John L. McCarty, Adobe Walls Bride (San Antonio: Naylor, 1955). Thomas Thompson, North of Palo Duro (Canyon, Texas: Staked Plains, 1984). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

H. Allen Anderson


JUDGE NEWTON F. LOCKE, prominent merchant of Miami county and county judge of Roberts county, holds a premier position among the pioneer citizens of the great Texas Panhandle. For over a quarter of a century he has been closely identified with the life and affairs of this section of the state, and his influence and prosperity have increased with the years. The industrial and commercial phases of the region have not alone felt the impetus of his energy and enterprise, for he has almost from the first taken an active part in public affairs and has often been the incumbent of some important office.
Judge Locke has always lived in the sunny south, and though a man just in the prime of his years he has had a varied and earnestly active and useful career. He was born near Selma, in Dallas county, Alabama, January 13, 1853, being a son of William F. and Elizabeth (Brazeal) Locke. His parents were both natives of Alabama, and his father lost his life while serving the cause of the south in the armies of the Confederacy.
Reared on a farm, Judge Locke spent the first twenty-one years of his life in his native state, and in 1874 came to Texas where for over thirty years he has centered his activities. His first location was in Dallas, where for a year he was employed in the mercantile firm of Leonard Brothers. He then moved to Jacksboro in Jack county and was in a store there for about a year. It will be remembered that the seventies were still a period of Indian trouble and depredation for the Texas frontier, along which at that time Jack and Young counties still lay, and these especially suffered from the ravages of the redskins. Accordingly the Texas Rangers, that famous body of state troops of whom Texas history will never cease to speak, where kept pretty busy, and Mr. Locke joined the organization under Lieutenant Hamilton. General John B. Jones being in command of the battalion. For two years he was in the exciting and arduous service of the Rangers in the frontier counties from the Red river southward.
In the spring of 1879 Mr. Locke came out to Wheeler county, which was the first county to be organized in the Panhandle, and the organization was effected that very year. He located at Mobeetie, the county seat. At that time all the counties north of the Red river in the Panhandle were attached to Wheeler for judicial purposes, and in the year of Mr. Locke's coming the nearest justice of the peace was at Henrietta in Clay county. In 1884, when the second regular election after the organization of Wheeler county occurred, Mr. Locke was elected clerk of the county and district courts, and received three successive re-elections, so that he held the office for eight years. He remained a resident of Wheeler county until 1894, and early in that year came to Miami in Roberts county. After engaging in the mercantile business for a while he sold out, and was then on his ranch three years. In 1901 be bought back into the mercantile business, and has since been numbered among the enterprising merchants of the town of Miami. His well known firm is the N. F. Locke and Son, his son, Newton, being the associate in the business. In Roberts county also Mr. Locke has been publicly active, having served one term as county treasurer, and in 1902 was elected to the office of county judge for a term of two years. He was re-elected in 1904.
A man of the highest character and standing, with a most creditable record in every enterprise he has undertaken since be became a resident of this section of the state, Mr. Locke is greatly esteemed by all who know him and has wielded his influence in the right direction for public progress and prosperity. Fraternally he is a Mason and Odd Fellow. In 1881 he was married in Young county to Miss Dora Barton, and they are the parents of four fine sons, named respectively, Claude, who is a merchant at Allanreed, this state, Newton, William and Clarence. 

B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas, Vol. I (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), pp. 298-299.


JUDGE STERLING G. CARTER, stock farmer and real estate man at Miami, Roberts county, is one of the best posted and widely experienced men on the history and widely experienced men on the history and affairs of this section of the state, having been closely identified with the Panhandle in all its various aspects for over twenty years. Though now just in the prime of his energies and his years, he has passed through a large and prosperous career, and his sphere of usefulness has not been restricted to any one department of endeavor.

A fine example of the energetic and enterprising southerner, he was born in Warren county, Georgia, November 15, 1851, and his entire life has been spent south of Mason and Dixon’s line. His parents were Wiley and Sarah (Rivers) Carter. His father, also a native of Warren county, in the early fifties moved to Sumter county, Georgia, and there continued his activity as an extensive cotton planter and slave owner until his death. The mother was also born and died in Georgia.

The well remembered plantation in Sumter county was the scene of Judge Carter’s early rearing, and from the time he was able to interest himself in serious pursuits he became identified with the cotton business. When he was twenty-one years old he married Miss Mary H. Cheves, and a short time later, in 1873, they transferred their home from Georgia to the Lone Star state, where it was their intention to go to housekeeping and establish a home. Locating first at Bluff Springs (now Bluffdale) in Erath county, Mr. Carter, in partnership with Captain Freeman (firm name Freeman and Carter) was in the mercantile business for three years. In the meantime he had been getting a bunch of cattle together and gradually worked into the cattle business in Stephens county. His next choice of activity was the contracting business, which the building of railroads through this section of the state offered him. 

He received a grading contract on the Texas and Pacific Railroad, which was then building west from Fort Worth, and in that work he followed the road until it reached Dead Man’s Cut, on the far edge of the plains. On returning to Fort Worth he met Morgan Jones, who was then building the Fort Worth in a northwesterly direction to Denver, and who gave Mr. Carter a graduating contract on that road. When Wichita Falls was reached there was a lull in the construct earthwork, and Mr. Carter then contracted with the Franklin Land and Cattle Company to construct earthwork water tanks on that company’s extensive pastures in the Texas Panhandle. During the eighteen months of his engagement in the work he was in Roberts, Hutchinson, Carson and Gray counties, having come up here in 1883, and has ever since been identified with the famous Panhandle district. 

When he had completed the water tanks he started the cattle business on his own account, becoming a successful cattleman in the Panhandle. He began his operations on twenty-four sections of land, but gradually decreased this vast domain, as he wished to go into stock farming and raise thoroughbred stock. His present homestead which is located in Roberts county two miles of Miami consists of two sections. He has a number of registered thoroughbred Red Polled cattle, and has made a specialty of crossing these with other thoroughbreds, such as Herefords and Shorthorns, as well as “scrub” cattle. 

Judge Carter is also known as one of the most enterprising and progressive men in this section of the state in experimenting with and growing various farm crops, for the purpose of demonstrating what a good country surrounds Miami for general stock-farming, and his efforts along this line have been of great value to all lines of industry and the general prosperity and welfare of the state. Experience has made him a most ardent exponent of the growing, in this part of the state, of the non-saccharine sorghum crop, Kaffir corn, milo maize, and other forms of rough feed stuff. In an essentially treeless and barren country he has contributed lasting value by the raising of many forest trees, black locust, catalpa, shrubbery, has a fine vineyard with thirteen varieties of grapes, raises strawberries, blackberries, gooseberries, currants, the finest of vegetables, and splendid rose bushes and other flowers—all making beautiful home surroundings and also demonstrating in unmistakable way the adaptability of this country to all purposes of a purely agricultural region.

While the interests cited in the foregoing paragraph have occupied most of Judge Carter’s time and attention, he has likewise devoted some of his efforts to public affairs and has several years been honored by public office in Roberts county. He was first a special constable; in 1892 was elected county treasurer, and continued to serve in this capacity for six years. Previous to this, in 1890, he was appointed sheriff and tax collector, and in all these positions he performed his duties with substantial benefit to the county and state. He held the office of sheriff for two years. In 1898 he was elected county judge, and by re-election in 1900 held this office for four years. His official record has thus been a long and honorable one. In addition to the management of the stock farm, he has a real estate business in town, the firm being S. G. Carter and Company, his partner being Jerome Harris, and they carry on a very profitable general real estate business.

By his first wife Judge Carter had three children: namely, William S., Mrs. Bena H. Kinney, wife of J. E. Kinney, a Miami attorney, and Hugh G. After the death of his first wife he married her sister, Miss Loua E. Cheves, and they are the parents of one little girl, Musa B. 

B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 283-284.


This page was last updated January 9, 2007.