Briscoe County Towns



Briscoe County Towns

(and area communities)

BRICE, TEXAS (Hall Co.)
GASOLINE, TEXAS
KINDER, TEXAS
QUITAQUE, TEXAS
SILVERTON, TEXAS
TULIA, TEXAS (Swisher Co.)
WHITELEY, TEXAS

BRICE, TEXAS

Brice, on State Highway 70 in northwestern Hall County, was named for C. R. Brice, the county attorney from 1896 to 1900. The post office was first located in Briscoe County in March 1899 and then moved to the present site in February 1903 with Arthur E. Benson as postmaster. The townsite was situated on the Horn and Dickson properties. George Dickson gave the land for church and school purposes, and Horn opened the first store. At its peak in the 1920s the community served a fertile farm area that produced cotton, grains, and alfalfa. It had three stores and filling stations, two churches, a blacksmith shop, a gin, a garage, and a five-teacher brick schoolhouse for eleven grades. For several years the community was divided into two parts, known as North and South Brice. In 1986 a gin was located on the South Brice site at the junction of State highways 70 and 256. The main community, which included a combination filling station and store and two churches, was two miles north. The school was consolidated with that of Lakeview in 1952, and the post office was closed in 1954, when mail was routed through Clarendon. In 1990 the population was thirty-seven.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Inez Baker, Yesterday in Hall County (Memphis, Texas, 1940). Virginia Browder, Hall County Heritage Trails, 1890-1980 (2 vols., Canyon, Texas: Staked Plains, 1982, 1983).

H. Allen Anderson



GASOLINE, TEXAS

Gasoline, in southeastern Briscoe County, is on the site of an early line camp for cowboys. In 1903 several farm families built their homes in the vicinity, and they later drilled a water well on the site. Gasoline received its name from the gasoline engine that powered the community's cotton gin, built in 1906 or 1907. At that time such a power source was a novelty in the Panhandle. M. E. Tomson, who managed the gin, opened the community's first store and established a post office there in 1907. The next year W. A. Smith began a hardware and farm-implement business. A one-room school opened in 1908, was expanded to four rooms by 1920, and had four teachers and eleven grades by 1929. In its early years Gasoline had a drugstore, a blacksmith shop, a barbershop, and a cafe. Local church members met in the schoolhouse until it was torn down in 1926, when a new community building was built. Electricity replaced the town's kerosene lamps and carbide lights in 1929, but for years Gasoline had only one phone. A local literary society staged plays, and sports such as baseball and volleyball also supplied entertainment. The gin, the hub of the community, burned down in 1938 and was never rebuilt. In 1940 Gasoline reported twenty residents, and in 1946 its school district merged with the nearby Quitaque district. Gasoline's post office was discontinued in 1948. During the mid-1980s there remained several old farmhouses and the community building, in which yearly homecomings were held.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Briscoe County Historical Survey Committee, Footprints of Time in Briscoe County (Dallas: Taylor, 1976). Fred Tarpley, 1001 Texas Place Names (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980).

H. Allen Anderson



KINDER, TEXAS

Kinder, four miles south of Quitaque in southeastern Briscoe County, was named for Judge L. S. Kinder, the railroad entrepreneur who led the movement to organize the Amarillo, Plainview and Southern Railroad in 1903. Served by a flag stop and spur on the Fort Worth and Denver line, with which the judge worked, Kinder receives its mail by rural delivery from Quitaque.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: F. Stanley, Story of the Texas Panhandle Railroads (Borger, Texas: Hess, 1976).

H. Allen Anderson



QUITAQUE, TEXAS

Quitaque is on State Highway 86 in southeastern Briscoe County. The first settler in the area was the Comanchero trader Josť Piedad Tafoya, who operated a trading post on the site from 1865 to 1867, trading dry goods and ammunition to the Comanches for rustled livestock. In 1877 George Baker drove a herd of about 2,000 cattle to the Quitaque area, where he headquartered the Lazy F Ranch. Charles Goodnight bought the Lazy F in 1880 and introduced the name Quitaque, which he believed was the Indian word for "end of the trail." According to another legend the name was derived from two buttes in the area that resembled piles of horse manure, the real meaning of the Indian word. Another story is that the name was taken from the Quitaca Indians, whose name was translated by white settlers as "whatever one steals." The Quitaque Ranch covered parts of Briscoe, Floyd, and Hall counties. In 1882 a post office was established at ranch headquarters on Quitaque Creek in what is now Floyd County. By 1890 the town reported forty residents. When Briscoe County was organized in 1892 the post office was moved to the current location of Quitaque, and the townsite was surveyed and platted. Settlers had moved into the area by 1890. In 1891 A. R. Jago built a store there and the first cotton crop was harvested. A school was opened southwest of Quitaque in 1894 and moved to the townsite in 1902. In 1907 the Twilla Hotel, a local landmark, opened. By 1914 the town reported seventy-five residents, a bank, and three general stores. In the 1920s Amos Persons, president of the First National Bank of Quitaque, succeeded in getting the Fort Worth and Denver South Plains Railway branch line routed through the town. In 1927 Quitaque was incorporated with P. P. Rumph as mayor, and on November 20, 1928, the first train arrived. By 1940 the town had affiliated schools, three churches, thirty-four businesses, and a population of 763. In 1961 Quitaque reported 586 residents and thirty-three businesses. In 1985 it had two city parks, a community center, and a fire station. Numerous Russian pines had been planted by citizens throughout the town as part of a state beautification program, and a City Homecoming Celebration was held every three years. In 1988 Quitaque had an estimated population of 700 and eleven businesses. In 1990 the population was 513.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Briscoe County Historical Survey Committee, Footprints of Time in Briscoe County (Dallas: Taylor, 1976). F. Stanley, Story of the Texas Panhandle Railroads (Borger, Texas: Hess, 1976).

H. Allen Anderson



SILVERTON, TEXAS

Silverton, the county seat of Briscoe County, is on State Highway 86 in the central part of the county. In August 1890 Thomas J. Braidfoot filed claim on the section of land that would later contain Silverton. He soon built a house in the area. In the spring of the following year he and his associates, most of whom had arrived from Della Plain in Floyd County, formed a townsite company. The name, submitted by his wife, was reportedly derived from the silvery reflections of the shallow lakes in the area. A post office, three stores, a blacksmith shop, and a school were established by the fall of 1891. Thomas J. Briscoe started the first newspaper, the Silverton Light. When the county was organized, a special election was held on March 15, 1892, in which Silverton beat out two rival townsites, Linguish and Tarlton, as the county seat. A two-story, frame courthouse was erected in 1893. The following year a jail built of stone from Tule Canyon was completed; its first occupant was the county sheriff, Miner Crawford, who was jailed as a joke during the opening ceremony. Tom Braidfoot's two-story house served as the town's first hotel. A community church was used by various denominations until they built their own houses of worship.

Silverton quickly prospered as a trade center for area ranchers and farmers. The population was 400 in 1900 and 500 in 1910. The first bank was opened in 1909, and a new brick schoolhouse was constructed in 1911. The town has had several newspapers, including the Silverton Enterprise and the Silverton Star. The present paper, the Briscoe County News, has been in operation since 1912. The present county courthouse was built in 1922. Mail was brought to Silverton from Tulia by stagecoach before 1928, and later by automobile. In 1928 the town became the northern terminus of the Fort Worth and Denver South Plains Railway from Lubbock. Silverton was subsequently incorporated, and it grew. Natural gas was introduced in 1929 by the West Texas Gas Company. By 1940 Silverton had thirty-five businesses and a population of 684.

Throughout its history Silverton has suffered from prairie fires, grasshoppers, dust storms, and cyclones. Its worst disaster occurred on the night of May 15, 1957, when a tornado killed twenty-one people and did over $1 million worth of damage. The citizens quickly rebuilt, and Silverton has continued as an agribusiness center. Clay products and irrigation supplies are manufactured locally. The population increased from 857 in 1950 to 1,164 in 1964 but has declined since then. In 1985 the town had a hospital and a clinic. A new junior high school building was built in the late 1970s. The Briscoe County Historical Society operates a small museum in the county courthouse basement. A small airfield is located east of town, and Haynes Boy Scout Camp is in the canyon breaks eight miles to the east. The annual Briscoe County Birthday celebration is held on the second weekend in August. In 1984 Silverton had a population of 918 and twenty-seven businesses. In 1990 the population was 779.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Briscoe County Historical Survey Committee, Footprints of Time in Briscoe County (Dallas: Taylor, 1976). F. Stanley [Stanley F. L. Crocchiola], The Silverton, Texas, Story (Nazareth, Texas, 1975).

H. Allen Anderson



TULIA, TEXAS

Tulia, the county seat of Swisher County, is on U.S. Highway 87 forty-nine miles south of Amarillo in the central part of the county. Its site was originally on the acreage of the Tule Ranch division of the JA Ranch. In 1887 a post office was established in James A. Parrish's dugout on Middle Tule Draw nine miles west of what is now the site of Tulia. Evidently the name Tule, after the nearby creek, had been selected for this post office, but at some point a clerk's error changed the name to Tulia. Parrish served as postmaster until 1889, when W. G. Conner took over and the post office was moved nine miles east to the homestead he had established in 1887. Also in 1889, a one-room schoolhouse was built; it doubled as a church. Eleven pupils attended school there that first year. Conner's section was chosen for the county seat when Swisher County was organized in 1890. He donated land for the courthouse, the school, and the city park, which is named after him, and ran a wagonyard in town. W. F. Wright began publication of the first newspaper, the Staked Plains Messenger, and by September a two-story frame courthouse had been constructed. Scott Thacker opened the first general store, and Mrs. S. E. Butts ran a boardinghouse. In 1897 the Methodists constructed the first church building.

By 1900 Tulia was prospering as a stopping point for freight-wagon traffic en route to the railheads of Colorado City and Amarillo. In 1892 the Tulia Standard began publication, and in 1909 the Tulia Herald appeared. Telephone lines had been run from Tulia to Amarillo by 1901. The Tulia National Bank (later the First National Bank of Tulia) was chartered in 1902. A booming new era began with the extension of the Santa Fe line to Tulia in December 1906. With it came more settlers, many of whom spent their first night at the Hotel Tulia, which was for years a city landmark. A brick schoolhouse was built in 1907, and in 1909 a three-story domed brick courthouse was built. That same year the city was incorporated, with W. G. Conner as mayor. By 1910 Tulia had a population of 1,216. The next year, bonds were voted to purchase, construct, and maintain a waterworks system and a light plant. Between 1910 and 1920 Tulia became known as the City of Windmills, because of the proliferation of windmills in the vicinity. During the 1920s the main streets were paved with bricks, and a new school building was constructed. An original Ozark Trail marker still stands on the square as a reminder that Tulia was a major stop on that historic route. In 1945 William Kirk Hulsey constructed a landing strip north of town; it was enlarged into a municipal airport in 1964.

Tulia has remained a center for farming and agribusiness activities. In the mid-1980s local industrial plants manufactured products such as clothing and farm implements, and there were four large cattle-feeding enterprises nearby. A modern county courthouse, built in 1962, stood in the center of the square, and local residents were also served by Swisher Memorial Hospital and by the Swisher County Memorial Building, which housed the library and the chamber of commerce offices. The Swisher County Museum displayed paintings and pioneer relics, and featured a log cabin that was originally a line camp for the JA Ranch. In the 1980s nineteen churches, six public schools, and a radio station also served the community. Tule Lake and Country Club, northeast of town, included a Girl Scout camp and also provided recreational facilities, as did Mackenzie Lake on the Swisher-Briscoe county line. The annual picnic and rodeo, held in Tulia in mid-July, included an old-timers' reunion. The Swisher County Fair in September was also an annual event. In addition, Tulia was known as the home of the singing Otwell Twins, David and Roger, who gained national notice in the late 1970s on Lawrence Welk's television show. The population of Tulia decreased from 5,294 in 1970 to 5,033 in 1984, when the town reported 110 businesses. In 1990 it had 4,699 residents.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Lana Payne Barnett and Elizabeth Brooks Buhrkuhl, eds., Presenting the Texas Panhandle (Canyon, Texas: Lan-Bea, 1979). Swisher County Historical Commission, Windmilling: 101 Years of Swisher County History (Dallas: Taylor, 1978). Fred Tarpley, 1001 Texas Place Names (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980).

H. Allen Anderson



WHITELEY, TEXAS

Whiteley, on the edge of the Llano Estacado in southwestern Briscoe County, was begun in 1901 when James Clark Whiteley arrived with his wife and eight children by covered wagon from Bell County. Whiteley purchased a section of land in the Lakeview community, nine miles southwest of Silverton. The property included a house, which the family expanded from three rooms to nine, and several acres in cultivation. The Whiteley children attended the Lakeview school, and the family received mail at the Joseph H. Reeves post office, two miles east, until it was discontinued in 1907; thereafter the homestead was included on the mail route from Silverton. In 1927 the Whiteley community was formed when the Fort Worth and Denver Railway established a switch on the family's property. It quickly became a shipping point for local farmers and ranchers, and during the 1940s its population was listed at twenty. Eventually, with the advent of paved roads and faster transportation, the community waned, but the old homestead where J. C. Whiteley and his wife spent their remaining years was still standing in 1987. In 1985 the community was listed as a railroad station.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Briscoe County Historical Survey Committee, Footprints of Time in Briscoe County (Dallas: Taylor, 1976).

H. Allen Anderson

(information from The Handbook of Texas Online --
a multidisciplinary encyclopedia of Texas history, geography, and culture.)

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This page was last updated August 16, 2000.