Yoakum County (C-8) is in western Texas on the southern High Plains, along the New Mexico border. The center of the county is at 32°10' north latitude and 102°50' west longitude. Plains, the county's seat of government, is fifty miles southwest of Lubbock. The area was named for Henderson King Yoakum. Yoakum County covers 800 square miles of nearly level terrain composed of sandy soils that support prairie grasses and some mesquite, yucca, shinnery oak, and sand sage. Elevations range from 3,400 to 3,900 feet above sea level.

County establishment

The Texas legislature established Yoakum County from Bexar County in 1876. The county was organized in 1907, and Plains became the county seat. In 1900, the area had only twenty-six residents. There was only one ranch in the county that year devoted to cattle, rather than crops.

Sale of state land after 1900 brought an increase in population. By 1910, there were 107 farms or ranches in the area, and the population had increased to 602.

By 1920, there were 109 ranches or farms in the area, but the population had fallen to 504. More than 21,000 cattle were reported that year, but crop cultivation remained limited; about 2,200 acres (8.9 km2) were planted in corn, 600 in sorghum, and 47 in cotton. During the 1920s the county experienced a minor expansion of crop farming, and cotton became the most important crop; by 1930 over 10,000 acres (40 km2) were devoted to cotton. There were 239 farms, and the population had increased to 1,263.

The first oil well in the county gushed in 1935. Denver City benefited with a resulting boom economy. By January 1, 1991, almost 1,664,036,000 barrels (264,560,600 m3) of oil had been taken from county lands since 1936.

Irrigation in the county led to more acres being planted on sorghum, cotton, alfalfa, watermelons and castor beans. In 1982, 93 percent of the land in Yoakum County was in farms and ranches, and 44 percent of the farmland was under cultivation. Some 110,000 acres (450 km2) were irrigated. About 95 percent of agricultural revenue was derived from crops, especially cotton, sorghum, wheat, hay, and corn.


Making Ice Cream When it Hails

On July 7, 2007 we attended a preliminary event   concerning the Yoakum County Centennial celebration. It was a production of the historical drama titled "Making Ice  Cream When it Hails". It was written by our friend Connie  Webb and we can only say that it was the best production of its kind that we have ever seen. It depicted the history of Yoakum County over the past one hundred years with many short skits based on actual historical events. Outstanding!!

And we have seen that much of the moving force behind this production was another very fine lady named Linda Powell. These two outstanding persons deserve a double "standing ovation".

This recording of Yoakum County history will occupy a prominent place in our archives.  Two more presentations are scheduled - on August 4 it will be presented at The Old Settlers Reunion in Plains and then on September 1 it will be presented at the Watermelon Roundup. We are planning to see it again.



This page was last updated on 05/27/2016