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Roberts County Towns


Miami, the county seat of Roberts County, is on U.S. Highway 60 between Canadian and Pampa in the southeastern part of the county. It is in the Red Deer Creek valley, backdropped by a mesa called Mount Moriah.

Miami supposedly derives its name from an Indian word meaning "sweetheart." The first settler on this site was Marion Armstrong, who in 1879 erected a half-dugout stagecoach stand near Red Deer Creek on the mail route from Mobeetie and Fort Elliott to Las Vegas, New Mexico.

The town was platted in 1887 by B. H. Eldridge on the proposed route of the Southern Kansas (later Panhandle and Santa Fe) Railway. Samuel Edge and Mark Huselby purchased several lots and formed the Miami Townsite Company. Supplies for the railroad-construction crews were furnished by daily stages from Mobeetie.

By 1888 Miami had 250 inhabitants and three hotels, three grocery stores, two saloons and a cafe, two livery stables, a post office, a mercantile store, a drugstore, and a tin shop. When Roberts County was organized in January 1889, Miami was chosen as county seat.

The election, however, was declared fraudulent in December, and Parnell, twenty-five miles northwest, was the legal seat of county government until Miami won another election in November 1898. The present courthouse was built in 1913 to replace an earlier wooden structure.

Known as "the last real cowtown in the Panhandle," Miami became a shipping point for area ranches, including the Laurel Leaf, Turkey Track, and Bar CC outfits. The town's newspaper, the Miami Weekly Echo, began in 1894; the name was changed to Miami Chief in 1911. A bank was established in 1907, and the local schools opened in September 1910.

Five churches were organized in Miami between 1898 and 1923. By 1915 the town had a population of 700. The first county fair was held there in 1923. Early prospects for oil in the vicinity resulted in the building of the Hillcrest addition in the late 1920s. Grain and cotton production also aided growth.

A county library, housed in the courthouse basement, was established in the 1930s. In 1968 a tornado destroyed Miami High School, which was subsequently rebuilt. The town in the 1980s was a retail and shipping point for cattle and grain. In addition, it had some oil-related businesses. Its population was estimated at 656 in 1960, 611 in 1970, and 813 in 1980, when Miami supported twenty-six businesses.

The Roberts County Museum, housed in the restored Santa Fe depot, contains, among other things, paleontological artifacts collected by Judge J. A. Mead in the 1930s. Miami holds a National Cow Calling Contest every June in the city park; the contest was begun in 1949 as part of the town's annual Old Settlers' Reunion.

Miami, living up to its name, has continued to advertise itself as the "Sweetheart of the Plains." In 1991 it was an incorporated town reporting a population of 661 and thirty-seven businesses.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 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). F. Stanley, The Miami, Texas, Story (Nazareth, Texas, 1974).

H. Allen Anderson


Parnell, founded in 1888, was twenty-five miles northwest of Miami in central Roberts County. The town was originally named Oran, after the county's namesake, Governor Oran Milo Roberts.

Parnell became the seat of government in December 1889, when the election that gave Miami that honor the previous January was declared fraudulent. For the next nine years, the two towns wrangled over the courthouse site.

At one point the controversy, which became centered around the appropriate location of the county records, became so heated that Texas Rangers were called in to keep the peace.

The Cresswell Land and Cattle Company favored the central location of Parnell because of its proximity to the ranch, while the citizens of Miami argued that their town's railroad made it the logical choice.

After Miami won the final election in 1898, Parnell's post office was closed, and its residents moved to Miami, Canadian, Pampa, and elsewhere. The townsite soon reverted to ranch land, and few traces of it remain.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Millie Jones Porter, Memory Cups of Panhandle Pioneers (Clarendon, Texas: Clarendon Press, 1945). History of Miami and Roberts County (Miami, Texas: Roberts County Historical Committee, 1976). F. Stanley, The Miami, Texas, Story (Nazareth, Texas, 1974).

H. Allen Anderson


Codman was on the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railway eight miles southwest of Miami in southern Roberts County.

When the county was organized in 1889 the community was an election precinct with three legal voters, yet thirty-eight local votes were polled in the election of county officials.

Local legend relates that during the legal battle between Miami and Parnell for the position of county seat, a patriotic Codman citizen named Buzzy sent his forty-two sons to vote.

A post office was established at Codman in December 1892, discontinued in November 1893, reopened in July 1901, and closed a final time in May 1902.

Codman reported a store, two grain elevators, and a population of twenty-five in 1947. Faster local transportation and U.S. Highway 60 later further diminished the community.

A 1983 county highway map showed Codman as only a station on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Arthur Hecht, comp., Postal History in the Texas Panhandle (Canyon, Texas: Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, 1960).

H. Allen Anderson


Hoover, near the Roberts county line in northern Gray County, was named for Harvey E. Hoover, a prominent lawyer and landowner of Canadian.

It began in 1887 as a switch on the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railway. E. D. McClain became postmaster after an office was granted in January 1910.

It was discontinued in 1914 but reestablished the following year. By then Hoover had become a livestock shipping point with a population of twenty-five.

By 1930 the town had three businesses and two churches. Oil discoveries in the area during the early 1930s brought more people to Hoover. Its population reached seventy-five by the mid-1940s.

For several years the town sponsored a boy scout troop. Hoover declined as a result of Pampa's growth.

In 1972 the post office was discontinued, and only the general store remained in business. In 1980 Hoover reported a population of thirty-five and no businesses.

A grain elevator, erected in 1954, continued to be used during harvest season. The population in 1990 was recorded as five.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Gray County History Book Committee, Gray County Heritage (Dallas: Taylor, 1985). Arthur Hecht, comp., Postal History in the Texas Panhandle (Canyon, Texas: Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, 1960). Fred Tarpley, 1001 Texas Place Names (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980).

H. Allen Anderson


Quivira (Cuivira, Quebira, Aguivira) was the legendary Indian province first mentioned to Hernando de Alvarado and Francisco Vázquez de Coronado in the fall of 1540 by the Pawnee captive El Turco. According to the Turk's stories, Quivira lay far to the east of the New Mexico pueblos somewhere on the Buffalo Plains.

The region was said to contain a large population with much gold and silver. However, when the Spaniards reached the supposed site of Quivira in 1541, they found only villages of grass huts and a partly agricultural, partly bison-hunting economy. El Turco, after confessing that he had told his stories to lure the conquistadors away from the pueblos, was garroted.

Nevertheless, the legend of Quivira remained strong; the unsuccessful expedition of Francisco Leyva de Bonilla and Antonio Gutiérrez de Humaña in 1595 and that of Juan de Oñate in 1601 also visited Quivira, with the same disappointing results. Fray Juan de Padilla, who had accompanied the Coronado expedition, was martyred there after attempting to establish mission work among the Indians of Quivira.

Quivira has been identified with the Indians later known as Wichita. Frederick Webb Hodge stated that the name was possibly a Spanish corruption of the term Kidikwius, or Kirikurus, the Wichitas' name for themselves, or of Kirikuruks, the Pawnee name for the Wichitas.

The actual location of Quivira has been a source of controversy and speculation among historians, ethnologists, and archeologists alike.

Some, like Carlos E. Castañeda and David Donoghue, conclude from Spanish journals that Coronado and Oñate never went beyond the Panhandle of Texas or that of Oklahoma; they thus place the Indian villages above the South Canadian River in what is Hutchinson or Roberts County, or above the North Canadian (Beaver) River, in what is now Beaver County, Oklahoma.

However, archeological evidence more readily points toward Hodge's conclusion that the fabled provincia was actually located north of the Arkansas River, somewhere between present Great Bend and Wichita, Kansas. Prominent Borderlands historians Herbert Eugene Bolton, George P. Hammond, and Agapito Rey also demonstrate the plausibility of the Kansas location in their writings.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: David Donoghue, "The Location of Quivira," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 13 (1940). Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1907, 1910; rpt., New York: Pageant, 1959). Frederick W. Rathjen, The Texas Panhandle Frontier (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1973).

Margery H. Krieger

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This page was last updated February 6, 2000.