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

Pop.: 150, minimum

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew

In order to apply for organizing a new county in early Texas there had to be a minimum of 150 legal voters living within the designated area. This number of voters was required in order to provide the necessary law officers, justice officials, tax officials, seat a grand jury for indictments and provide a regular jury for trials.

In Wheeler County, the first county in the Panhandle, the 1880 census showed 1,307 total population. However, the area designated at the time actually contained three counties, Wheeler and what was later called Gray and Roberts counties.

Permission to organize came when it was determined that 150 legal voters existed among the 1,307 population. Cap Arrington resigned from the Texas Rangers to be elected Sheriff, Rufe Lefors was appointed Deputy Sheriff, Mobeetie was acclaimed the county seat and the county business began. This recorded business is some of the best Panhandle history we have of this era.

Although the Red River Wars had ended with the Plains Indians placed on reservations in Oklahoma, the Indian troubles did not end. History shows time and again, small bands or families of Indians, disenchanted with reservation life, left Oklahoma and traveled around the Panhandle. Along the way, they often butchered livestock for meat and broke into homes to steal food.

Sheriff Arrington once captured about twenty Indians with a string of pack mules carrying old model rifles, muzzle-loaders and old rim-fire ammunition. The Army was called, took charge, buried the armament in a secret location and returned the Indians to the reservation. The cache of buried weapons has not been found to date as far as we know.

The RO Ranch once found a group of unarmed Indians camped in a grove of trees where they had butchered a cow or two for meat. They too were captured, the Army called and were hauled back to the reservation but not without a bit of excitement for the area residents.

Another time, settlers in the McLean/Alanreed vicinity gathered at the RO Ranch block house for protection during an Indian scare. They visited, partied and danced for a day or two before going home after enjoying some rest and recreation.

F.R. McCracken, one of the earlier settlers on Rock Creek south of Alanreed, Texas, tells of having to ride to Mobeetie (40 miles one way) to get his mail. He always led a packhorse along hunting meat to sell at the fort or to take back home. He told of the prairie grass at the time which grew to the height of his stirrups when riding a horse.

During one trip he crossed the section of land where McLean is located today and found a buffalo straggler coming from the creeks to the south. He shot the animal, skinned and cut the meat into parcels to load on his packhorse. When he raised up to his feet he discovered he was surrounded by a group of Indians.

The chief told Mr. McCracken he wanted the buffalo. Mr. McCracken said he could have it and then took his horses and departed the site as fast as possible.

Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew"
December 18, 2007 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.

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