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Did lost colony in the Okla. Panhandle exist?

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew

Recently while visiting friends in Kenton, Okla., I picked up a small local history book titled, "The Way I Heard It," by Jennie Rose Benton, copyright 1996. The contents tell of early history in the area, which eventually became Beaver County in Oklahoma.

Many stories about the dinosaurs and early seas in the area were extremely interesting since we had visited the beautiful Black Mesa country many times. In fact, the drive from Boise City to Black Mesa, Kenton, Folsom, then over the top of Johnson Mesa into Raton from the east is our favorite drive in the entire Texas/Oklahoma/New Mexico area.

The title of the book, like It's All Trew columns, suggests that maybe every word written may not be exactly true. However, the books continually quotes The Boise City News and Cimarron News giving authenticity to the stories.

The most famous icon of the area is The Santa Fe Trail established in 1821, running from Independence, Mo., to Santa Fe, N.M. No doubt the trail is real because you can still see the many furrows in the grass left by the wagons.

History states that seven miles from Kenton, Camp Nichols was established in 1865 to protect travelers along the famous trail. Only months later, the camp was abandoned without reason and its history remains a mystery still today.

Numerous stories abound about Robber's Roost near Kenton, once a haven for the William Coe gang of outlaws. Believing they were outside the federal law in No Man's Land, they built a rock fortress hideout complete with hotel accommodations, saloon and ladies of the night. Determined local citizens, tired of their numerous crimes caught and hanged the entire gang. Though unproven by records, some say the attack was aided by a mystery Army cannon borrowed from somewhere used to blast down the walls of the rock fortress.

In January 1901, The Cimarron News printed a letter received from Woodward County, Okla., stating a colony of prominent citizens would be starting and settling a colony in the northwest corner of the newly established Beaver County.

The letter stated they had filed on approximately 12 sections of land, intended to start a lumber yard, a brick yard, establish farming, ranching and mineral development. Following newspapers told of new settlers arriving almost daily, one wagon train containing a dozen or more wagons of supplies and equipment.

Listed among the new colonists were an ex-congressman, and Temple Houston a famous attorney from Oklahoma and Texas, two doctors and many other prominent businessmen. As many as 40 families might be included in the new colony.

Then, on June 28, 1901, came the last mention of the new colony. After that, nothing. No doubt there was the start of a colony. Did they stay awhile and leave? Did they all leave at once? Did hard times take its toll? Are descendants of the first settlers still living there?

No Man's Land history is among the most interesting of all the Panhandle area. The Lost Colony is merely one more chapter included.

Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew"
November 17, 2010 column
Delbert Trew is a freelance writer and retired rancher. He can be reached at 806-779-3164, by mail at Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002, or by e-mail at trewblue@centramedia.net. For books see DelbertTrew.com. His column appears weekly.

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This page last modified: November 17, 2010