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  Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Early Texas settlers saw many firsts

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew

One South Plains settlement, located in western Crosby and eastern Lubbock Counties, had many "firsts" in West Texas history. Estacado was established by Quaker families originating from North Carolina in 1877 and 1878. It was the first agricultural settlement on the South Plains, growing crops planted in Staked Plains soil.

Corn, oats, sorghum, potatoes and assorted vegetables grew and produced well proving the semi-desert climate could raise decent crops.

The settlement also provided the first organized education in the South Plains. By 1888, the school had 32 students enrolled. In 1890, a school for higher education was introduced offering two years beyond the secondary level and believed to be the first college on the entire Llano Estacado.


Lipscomb

Before the county and town of Lipscomb were formed there was an open saloon operating on the site. In 1886, George McSpadden established the business to serve friends and travelers passing through the area.

Since there was no ice for beverages, George lowered bottles of beer in buckets, down into his hand-dug water well to cool. If George was not around to serve customers they served themselves, dropping payment into a tin cup nailed to the well posts. It would be hard to imagine that degree of honesty in today's world.


Beaumont

Shootouts and saloon brawling was finally curbed in the early days by the law requiring patrons to check their weapons upon entering the establishment. As civilization took root the public began leaving their guns at home. By 1900, law enforcement was well in charge with few crimes committed in the average town.

The Spindletop oil gusher blew in on Jan. 10, 1901, causing an oil boom like no other before or since.

Within a few days the town of Beaumont and the surrounding settlements were swamped with speculators, operators and the usual malcontents feeding off the excitement. Crime exploded overnight, with no one safe after dark A crisis was in the making.

The Chief of Police was a wise old-timer and had the answer. He issued and posted the statement, "All citizens tote your guns at all times in plain sight for all to see." It was almost like the opening of hunting season. A few brief bloody episodes, and the crime wave halted. The criminal element had forgotten that only a few years earlier all citizens wore guns and knew how to use them.


Tascosa

In the 1880s at Tascosa, a sad story with a happy ending occurred. An LS cowboy named Steve Conklin occasionally went on a tear, got drunk then sobered up so depressed he threatened suicide.

His friends always took care to unload his gun while he was drinking so he could not hurt himself when he sobered up.

After a particularly bad bout of drinking in a Tascosa saloon, Steve sat on the floor, put his pistol to his head and said, "Goodbye boys, here goes old nobody" and pulled the trigger.

When nothing happened his friends howled with laughter and he survived to live to a ripe old age. However, for the remainder of his life he was known to all as Steve Nobody.


Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" June 9, 2008 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.

 
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