Swisher County changed dramatically when the railroad came through the county in 1906. The town of Wright was moved to meet the railroad and was renamed Kress by the railroad officials. Kress is about twelve miles to the south of the county seat of Tulia. One of the first stores built in Kress was the Wood Mercantile Company. It sold to Mr. J. C. Bagley in a couple of years and Mr. Bagley also operated a livery stable. Kress flourished with the building of the school in 1907 and a hotel in 1908. The town and countryside had become fairly well populated and an outstanding rodeo had been established. A grain elevator was also built in 1915. It was not until 1955 that Kress was actually incorporated as a town. Kress, like Happy and Tulia, also has its own sky line of modern day grain elevators along the railroad tracks and highway which are a landmark for all who travel through this area.
Many changes took place in Swisher County when the railroad came through the county in 1906. A major change involved the town of Wright. The railroad station was located more than two miles from the small town. After some deliberation, the citizens decided to move their town to the railroad. The name of the town was changed from Wright to Kress by the railroad officials, or so it is said. The depot was located on Skipworth land and could have been named Skipworth, but the family objected. The first depot agent was Shorty Wooliford.
One of the first stores built in Kress was on the east side of the railroad by a Mr. Woods who called it Wood Mercantile Co. He kept the store only about two years and sold it to J.C. Bagley, Arch Jordan, and Mrs. Molly Gayler. Another store was a dry goods and grocery combined. It was run by Mr. Linn and Mr. Barton.
There were several livery stables during this time since everything had to be moved by horses or mules. J.C. Bagley and Frank Moore both operated livery stables.
Other businesses were established soon after the move including Fulton Lumber Co. on the east side of the tracks and Rockwell Bros. on the west side of the tracks where it remained throughout the years until it closed in 1974. It is presently the only original business building left in Kress.
In 1907, Main Street ran east and west on the east side of the track even with the depot. These businesses were located beside a board walk; Jim Skipworth Sr. ‘s BarberShop, Moore’s General Store, the Post Office, J. P. Linn and Edward’s (later Linn and Botts) General Store, Dave Woods Blacksmith Shop, Dr. Ford’s Drug Store. Dr. Ford doctored both people and their horses.
The Kress Stockholders built a hotel on the east side of Main Street in 1908. Mrs. Brown was the first to operate it. Others who operated it through the years were the Bagleys, Skipworth, Kerr and Pyles. Pyles moved it to the west side of the tracks in later years. The Kress Stockholders also built the telephone office and lines in 1909, operated by the Overleys. Some of those who later operated the telephone system were Skinner, Joe Deen, J. P. Martin and V. J. Edwards. The Mid-Plains Telephone Co-op was started in 1953 but didn’t take over until 1957.
The Farmer’s State Bank was organized in 1900. The first officers were: F. 1. Skipworth, President; Frederick Rousser, Vice-President; Cashiers, Mac Dozier, D. M. Woods, Jim and Tom Skipworth.
The first elevator was operated by Mr. Bradenbaugh and Mr. W. A. Porter.
The first school in Kress was built in 1907. It had two rooms downstairs and an auditorium above. It was located about where the high school now stands. The first teachers were Mr. and Mrs. A. G. Harrison and Miss Jo Skipworth. School didn’t go by grades or ages but more according to the judgment of the teachers.
The first contractors and carpenters were Morton and Paget. The first house to be built in Kress was that of Frank Moore in 1906. It burned in 1971. Jim Skipworth’s house was also built in 1906. It blew away in the tornado of June 9, 1941. The oldest house standing is the J. C. Bagley house where H. W. Roden now lives.
The first dray wagon was operated by Bob Moore and later by Arch McDaniel.
About 1911 times got so hard that the merchants could not afford to hire their freight hauled. In the late 1920’s and ’30’s Granvel Davenport hauled freight from the depot to the merchants after the town moved to the west side of the tracks. later J. A. Hamilton brought the mail from the depot to the post office on the west side by push cart. He also owned a Tourist Court by his house in the north side of town.
C. F. Sjogren bought land and moved to Kress in 1906. He was a land broker, a licensed veterinarian, an auctioneer and a farmer. He and his partner, Robert 1. Erickson, who only stayed in Kress for a few years, were well known for their fruit orchard north of town.
In August of 1909 a booklet was published by the Kress 1,000 Commercial Club and distributed with the compliments of C. F. Cjogren land Co. It stated that at the time Kress had two banks, several stores, lumber yards, hotels, drug stores, a telephone exchange, telegraph office, wagon yards and the railroad station. The population was listed as 500 which was probably a bit too optimistic. In the past year, the booklet said, 125 carloads of grain had been shipped by railroad and many loads of hogs and cattle.
By 1915 the town and countryside had become fairly well populated and an outstanding rodeo had been organized. This event was usually performed on Sunday afternoons at the stockyards where chutes were available. The admission was reasonable, and they always had large crowds. Some of the outstanding performers were Bert Beck, Tom and Bert Bagley, Roy, Tom, and Crutch Skipworth.
The town had by now settled on the east side of the railway. An elevator was built in 1915 by F. T. Skipworth and Frank Moore. It was sold to Mr. Cobb in 1917.
John Elliot ran it for awhile and then bought it. In 1946 the Morton’s bought the business and it became known as Morton Grain. The building was struck by lightning during a storm and burned in June of 1971.
About 1915 Harry Tracy built a garage and had gasoline pumps also, for many of the people had Model “1” or other cars. F. 1. Skipworth was the first Kress citizen to own a car.
In 1925 the highway was changed to the west side of the tracks. This was quite a blow to the town, and things came to a standstill for awhile. Then Jesse Slade of Amarillo built a group of brick buildings along the west side of the highway which became the main street. Kress went on the move. The Post Office was moved, and one of the new buildings became the bank. Tom Bagley was president; Clyde Moore was cashier; O. R. Joseph was bookkeeper.
Next door to the bank was Northcutt Grocery that became Whitlow Grocery 13 “years later. Then it became Red and White Grocery. Other owners were Bruce Dines and Adolph Anderson. It is now Shopper’s Mart.
Another grocery store in town was originally owned by W. G. Botts and Mr. Linn. Later owners of the same store were W. P. Deen, Roper and J. C. Draper. J. C. moved the business into the building that is now a part of the fire station.
Also on the west side of main street was Baird Bishop’s drug store. He sold out in 1934. Marvin and Mary Morton put a HelpySelfy Laundry in there the next year. In 1946 Bill SoRelle and Ricie Harper put a drug store back in the same building. Winnie Boyd was the manager.
Also in the line of brick buildings was a barber shop put in by Lee Ervin. In 1929 Homer Whitlow bought the shop and barbered until 1934 when he changed it to a drug store. The next store was a variety store. ana Davenport moved her beauty shop into the back part and remained here until Harry Davenport rebuilt his station in 1932. These last two parts of the brick buildings are now the City Office and the Fire Station.
The next two buildings were Speer and Patiz Dry Goods and Ready to Wear and Scott Hardware. These are part of the Fire Department at the present time.
In 1927 V.J. Edwards bought the telephone exchange and moved it to 100 Skipworth Ave.
In 1926 A. F. Rogers, Sr. purchased a service station which included a garage. His son, A. F., Jr. (also known as Tige) soon came to work for him and took over the business when his father died in 1938. A parts department was added in 1957, and the business was expanded again in
1968. It is the oldest business in Kress. It is now operated by John and Ed Rogers, grandsons of A. F. Rogers, Sr.
Another service station in Kress has changed hands a number of times. It has been operated by Rogers, Chandles, Hickman Deen, and W. P. Deen to name some of them. W. P. Deen added groceries and living quarters. In 1952 the Andy Lincecums bought it and made some changes, but in 1963 they tore down the original building and built the new store just south and made a parking lot where the old store was. They also built the Texaco Station on the four-lane highway. J. C. Galloway operates the station, and Dalton and Sandy Freeman now manage the store (1977).
In 1925 Ervin Young built a blacksmith shop west of the line of brick buildings, and his father operated a harness and shoe repair shop beside it. In 1934 it became Lee Young’s Shop.
In 1928 Ernest Bowman put in a chicken farm north of town and east of the track. In 1929 Herman Kunkel had a chicken farm. In 1931 H. A. Buhrkuhl built a house here, now the Marvin Morton’s. Other buildings were used for raising hogs and for hog and cattle feed lots.
About 1922 Kress got electricity, and five years later it got natural gas. Uncle Harry Davenport got the first water meter that was set.
In 1941 Johnny Goodger brought butane to town, and in 1962 this business was moved out onto the highway and became Phillips Butane and Station. It was operated by Henry Snell. He had become manager when Johnny was killed in a butane explosion. It is now closed.
In 1947 Perry Bowser put in a potato shed. His associates were Raymond Walker, Harry Chenoweth, and John Moore. Also in 1947 Henry Evans built a skating rink and station. The skating rink was unsuccessful.
The station was operated by Percy Edwards and then others. It is now used as a school bus barn and for Kress’s Fat Stock show.
The highway through Kress was moved again and became a four lane highway about 1960. Citizens of Kress were forced to make another adjustment. They met the challenge.
In 1953 an election was held to incorporate. The first mayor was Carl Losson, and two commissioners were E. E. Cox and Homer Whitlow. In 1964 the city adopted the alderman form of government. At the present time (1977) J. D. Carlisle is Mayor and J. E. Andrus, Carl Losson, Don Williams, Dwight Willborn, and J. W. Dines III are Councilmen. Louise Watkins is city secretary, Chester Bates is water superintendent and Brady Pepper is assistant. C. D. Oringderff is City Deputy.
In 1955 Kress got its volunteer fire department.
Talmage Todd was its first chief with Harold Rogers as assistant. Ed Rogers is now chief. The department has three fire trucks since a new one was purchased in 1975. In 1972 the Civil Defense was organized. At the present, Talmage Todd is in charge of it.
In February of 1955, Mayor Losson threw the switch to start the pumps for the municipal water system. The city now has four wells. The sewer bond passed in 1957. The Losson Addition began in 1957. The city limits were enlarged in 1960. Paving of streets began in 1963. Carl Losson donated Block 16 to be used as a city park in 1958. Graham Western Heights Addition was brought into the city in 1964. The low income housing project began in 1970. Other new homes have been and are being built allover the city. The new Post Office was built in 1959.
The Dairy Mart was built on the highway in 1956. Homer Whitlow built a grocery store in 1957. It changed hands several times, and is now Allsups No 11 . Later he added rooms for a beauty shop and the HelpySelfy Laundry.
In 1954 Joe Steward built his Service and Supply building and included room for Evelyn’s Tax Service. In 1957 he enlarged it.
E. H. Denny built his insurance company in 1955. It is now Perdue and Reeves Insurance. Lee Young’s Farm Store was built in 1953.
In 1963 The Kress National Bank was opened. It is the first time Kress has had a bank since the Great Depression in the early ’30’s. The bank has a Community Room which is a great convenience for the entire community. The bank officials are Dean Murry, President, John Murry, Vice-President, Leat Davidson, Teller, Inez Roden, Teller, and Shirley Bontke, Pam Bagley and Gail Blackerby, bookkeepers.
Carl Losson began operating a service station in Kress in 1932. In 1946 he began selling butane also. In 1963 Losson’s Truck Stop and Losson’s Restaurant were built. This is one of the oldest businesses in Kress.
The Mid-Plains Telephone Co. building was built in 1955, and Kress got direct dialing in 1971.
Scott Tractor Co., owned and operated by J. B. and Madge Scott, began business in Kress in 1955 after selling their half interest in the Ferguson Tractor Co. in Tulia. They sold Ford Tractors, and later changed to David Brown Tractors. Their son, Paul Scott, became a partner in the company in 1968, and the company accepted the Case dealer ship. The business expanded in 1972 to include a farm equipment store in Plainview.
The “Kress Chronicle” celebrated its twelfth year of publication in 1977. Publisher is Sue Cannon. La Rue Murry is advertising manager, and Erma Webb is news editor.
Lively and Bagley Gin Co. began in 1951 when H. D. Lively and Melvin Bagley built a gin % miles west and Y2 miles north of Kress. Other partners in the business for several years were R. H. Gayler and Marvin Carlisle who sold their interest in the business to their partners in 1966. From 1960 until 1977 the company owned and operated a second gin at Eunice Switch. It also owned gins at Finny Switch and Ouarterway from 1968 until 1973. The original gin just north of Kress continues to belong to Mr. Lively and Mr. Bagley, and is operated by them.
Other gins in the Kress Community in 1977 are Swisher Co-op Gin and Center Plains Gin.
Fertilizer stores are; Kress Farm Store, 1. and S. Farm Supply Store, Riverside Chemical Co. and Flick’s Farm Supply.
Elevators are: Hipp Grain, Kress Fertilizer
and Grain, and Kress Farmer’s Grain. Carpenters and builders are; A. 1. Lane, Dwight Willborn, and Carr Brothers.
Spraying Services are; Joe Vaughn’s Spraying, Inc. and Hawkin’s Spraying.
Landscaping services are; Andrus Green Houses, La Rue Hughes Nursery and Guy T. Hughes Nursery.
Beauty Shops are; Eulalia’s Beauty Shop and Melba Beeson’s Modern Beauty Shop.
Other modern day businesses include; Billy Ray Boggs Training Center, Lee Gary Horse Training, Margie Hughes’s Photography, Stella’s Floral Service, Barbara’s Flower Shop, Larsan’s Manufacturing, Lowrie Construction, Inc., J. C. and Jimmy Harris’s Real Estate, J. W. Dine’s Machine and Welding, David Hartman – Conklin Dealers, Rain’s Avon Agency, Jerry’s Burger Drive-In, William’s Pump and Machine Shop, Southwestern Public Service, and Pioneer Natural Gas.
Clubs and organizations of Kress include The Lion’s Club, Mu Lambda Sorority, two Home Demonstrations Clubs, Kress Riding Club, two bowling clubs, four bridge clubs, the Kress 4-H Club, and a senior citizen’s club known as Kress Keen Agers.
In 1964-65 the Canadian River Water Authority ran a line through the county west of Kress. Later the gas company built a new and larger line running both east and north of Kress. Swisher Electric Cooperative is presently building a sub-station west of town to better serve Center Plains and Edmonson communities.
Any oversight of persons or businesses not mentioned was purely unintentional. Some of the dates were given in general because specific time was not known.
The following has been taken in part from Windmilling, Swisher County, and Swisher County History, Copyright (c) 1977, Published by Nortex Press.