Tulia, the county seat, is the geographic and commercial center of the county. It markets and ships cotton, grain sorghums, wheat, dairy products and alfalfa.
Swisher County is distinguished for a water supply of the “genuine freestone variety” and exists in inexhaustible quantities at a depth of from 20 to 100 feet, free if alkali, gypsum or lime. It is in the center of the renowned “shallow water belt” of the South Plains.The town of Tulia is located on the Middle Tule Creek for which it was named, but the name was slightly altered from “Tule” to “Tulia” when it was registered at the state office.
Thornton Musick came to Tulia from Anson where he attened high school. He was born on a farm in Hood County. He married in 1938 to the former Berry Curry of Tulia.
Thornton purchased a produce and farm supply establishment in 1948 and since has been the sole owner. Thornton is a partner with George Hipp in Farm Chemical Company and is a stockholder and president of Tulia Homesites, Inc. He is a director of the Tulia Chamber of Commerce, a Mason including the Shrine, Knights Templar and Royal Arch, a member of the American Legion and VFW and he attends the Baptist Church. He served for the local Legion post in 1946 and 1947/ His war service included about three years in the Navy as radar man.
Mr. and Mrs. Musick are the parents of three children: Betsy, Mike, and Marilyn.
Source: Tulia Herald, July 27, 1950.
Tom Nichols, owner-manager of WisonNicholes Lumbar Company in Tulia, started as a railroader. He has been selling shingles and 2 4’s since 1920 when he moved to Silverton.
He has been in Tulia with his lumbar yard the past 15 years. He and Mrs. Nicholes became sole owner of the yard six years ago.
The lumberman was born at Kaufman, 30 miles east of Dallas. He attended school in Terrell and Jacksboro, he played a little baseball as pitcher and fielder.
He did his railroading for the BP and SW. Mr Nichols was chief clerck in the local frieght office in EI Paso, the ticket agent at Tuckson and agent at Hachita, New Mexico. He went into the lumber business in Silverton after leaving Hachita.
Mr. Nichols is a past member of the Elks Club and is a trustee of the Presbyterian Church in Tulia.
Mr. and Mrs. Nichols were married December 4, 1915, at Bridgeport. They have two children, Jim, Tom, who is in the lumbar business in Tulia, and John Will, who manages a lumbar company at Dimmitt.
Source: Tulia Herald, June 29, 1950.
J. Ross Noland
J. Ross Noland has 33 years’ banking experience, 20 of it as vice-president.
He came to Tulia in 1920, from Stratford, as cashier of the Tulia First National Back which then had only four employees.
In 1924, he took over management of the bank and was vice-presiden until 1945.
He now has his own insurance, loan and real estate business in Tulia. He is still a member of the bank’s board of directors.
The banker began his career at the age of 18 when he went to work in the Stratford bank, of which his father was president, just to earn a little money.
He was born in Missouri. His family came to Texas when he was six years old. He attened high school in Clarendon and is a graduate of Clarendon College.
He spent 10 years with the First State Bank of Stratford. He and Mrs. Noland were married there in 1919. They have no children.
He also worked in two banks in Texhoma and one in Amarillo before coming to Tulia.
An active member of the Masonic Lodge, Shrine, Chamber of Commerce, Kiwania Club and Methodist Church, he is past president of the Panhandle Banker’s Association and Chamber of Commerce. He is secretary to the Kiwania and was secretary to the Church.
Souce: Tulia Herald, August 24, 1950
RE. Nuzum’s inability to accustom himself to the absence of fences in the early days of Swisher County is a point that has remained in his mind. He lives 15 miles northeast of Tulia. As a boy, he would often times get lost during efforts to angle across a section of land to find his way home from Wayside, Vigo or Salem. Since the fences he had left in Nebraska country were one of the most depended upon landmarks, it was difficult to become accustomed to finding his directions without fences. He came to the Panhandle in 1909.
He married Amy Graham at Sherman, Texas, and their two children are Allan and Eileen, both of (…)
Tulia. Mr. Osborn
Mr. Osborn came to Tulia in September of 1945, after puchasing an interst in Conner Motot Company. He spent 11 years with General Motors in Amarillo and Lubbock. Previously, he worked for the American Cotton Cooperative Association in the shipping department with offices in Oklahoma City and New Orleans.
He graduated from high school at Tuttle, Oklahome City. He was born at Hinton about 40 miles west of Tuttle. He grew up on a farm. His parents still live at Tuttle. He has two sisters and a brother.
Mr. Osborn had three boys, They are Hugh, Roger and Nickey. The dealer is a member of the Swisher County Hospital Board of Managers and of the County School Board. He hunts occasionally and can remember when he played pretty good tennis.
Source: Tulia Herald, June 22, 1950
Mr. J.H. Parish and family also came here before the county was organized. He settled near the Settle holdings on Middle Tule Creek in the western part of the county.
It is said that J.H. Parish was the first actual settler in Swisher County, coming here with his family in September, 1886. According to an abstact of Texas land titles, he was also the first settler to file on school land. His settlement was located in the westem part of the county on Middle Tule Creek near hackberry grove, the land being now owned by J.T. Crawford of this county.
Aaron Sanders Parker
Aaron Sanders Parker was born December 31, 1853, at Fayetteville, Tennessee, died January 2, 1918, and was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Tulia, Texas. He married in 1876 at Fayetteville, Tennessee to Sally Taylor, born July 3, 1857, at Fayettevll, Tennessee. She died about April 1932, buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Tulia, Texas. He was a farmer and owned three sections of land. They were members of the Presbyterian Church.
They came to Texas in 1876 and lived in Waxahachie for eight years and in Newport eight years, then moved to Tulia in 1892.
Their children were Maria Belle Parker, b. May 18, 1878, Wazahachie, Texas; James Woodroof Parker, b. December 1, 1879, Waxahachie, Texas; Snders Ewell Parker, b March 15, 1881, Waxahachie, Texas; Lena Mary Parker, b. September 5, 1882, Waxahachie, Texas; Thomas Lee Parker, b. June 23, 1884, Waxahachie Texas; William Walker Parker, b. March 3, 1887, Newport, Texas; Hugh Power Parker, b. Febuary 25, 1889, Newport, Texas; De Witt Parker, b. Febuary 4, 1895, Tulia, Texas; Mattie ernice Parker, b. March 28. 1898, Tulia, Texas; AD. Parker, b. May 7, 1900, Tulia, Texas, married Effie Mae Sorrenson.
William Walker Parker
William Walker Parker moved here with his father, Aaron Parker, and mother, Mrs. Sally Taylor Parker, and six other children. Walter was only five years old when he arrived here from Clay County in North Central Texas on April 23, 1892, and settled on Section 128. This is the present McComb place located about 10 miles northeast of town. Before many settlers moved in, the land was wild and inmolested. One could count as many as 75 antelope in a herd easily.
No live buffalo could be seen but many bones and horns lay around to show that they once inhabited the country. Every second section of land in Swisher County was reserved for school grounds and the rest was held by the J.A. Ranch. The year 1892 was very dry, but it didn’t seem so dry because the year before was one of the wettest in the history of Swisher County. Judging from the amount of water, it rained at least five inches.
Walker remembers only two families, the Connors and the Paulps, who were here when the county was organized.
At first he lived in a temporary shed then he started a house, using square nails, but by the time he got around to finishing it, they were using round nails. The Parkers brought cotton mattresses with them from Clay County and in 1902 . } they bought spring mattresses from Amarillo and set them on wooden bedsteads. The only fuel available was prairie coal and wood which had to be hauled from the canyon 16 miles away.
EARLY OFFICERS in The COUNTY SEAT
Prior to July 17, 1890, Swisher County was attached first to Oldham County, then to Donley, later to Hale for judicial purposes, and was finally organized in 1890. Besides the commissioners already mentioned, other officers were: County Judge, J.H. Settle; F. Faulkner, County Clerk; F.W. Scott, Sheriff and Tax Collector; T.A. Gray, Assessor; W.W. Stegall, Treasurer; Lon D. Mars of Amarillo, County Attorney; W.R Hutchison, surveyor. Judge Settle died before his term of office expired and C.T. Word, now of Amarillo, was appointed in his place. J .M. Stapp was mentioned as a commissioner also. Some of these pioneers were still active in the affairs of Tulia in 1937 among them were G.C. Hutchison, J.L. Cantrell, Dr. J. Edd Crawford, W.C. Crawford, Tom L. Parker, J.R. Ward, and J.W. Vaughn.
The first jail was a two cell building with an office in one end measuring 20 x 30 feet and 10 feet high. The county was paid $35.00 for two lots to be used as a jail site. In this connection it is interesting to note that the records tend to indicate that Swisher County has been a law-abiding area with only two death penalties having been given in this county up to 1937.
L.D. Mars was designated to locate and record county school lands. He was to be allowed all necessary expense and a reasonable compensation for such work as he might do.
W.G. Conner was the first mayor of Tulia, served as a commissioner and as County Treasurer. He donated a block between the Santa Fe depot and the square for a park. He donated the two blocks where the school building now stands. After the organization of the county, the county seat was located on Mr. Conner’s section.
He had homesteaded this section where the town of Tulia now stands, and built his dugout near the site where Mrs. Conner now resides in the south part of Tulia. He also served as postmaster in this dugout.
Mr. and Mrs. T.A Gray and children arrived here about the same time as the Conner family. Mr. Gray was boss and later part owner of the Tail Q. Ranch. They settled on Tule Creek a few miles west of the present site of Tulia. He owned and controlled several sections along Middle Tule Creek for many years. Mr. Gray was tax-assessor of the county.
Milt Stapp, windmill and shop man for the J A Ranch, was also one of the first commissioners. In 1937 the commissioners were T.W. Rucker, precinct 1, Henry Evans,
precinct 2; Q.B. Workman, precinct 3; and Will Rousser, precinct 4. The first justices of the peace were G.F.
Acred, precinct 1; T.J. Saule, precinct 2. In 1937 the justices of peace were V.R. Gardner, V.A. Beck, W.C. Rise, respectively of precincts 1, 2, and 3.
The first County Treasurer was W.W. Stegall who was elected July 28, 1890. The records show that C.R. Bailey was elected to this post November 4, 1890. In 1937 the County Treasurer was J. Murray Markham.
The first county surveyor was W.B. Hutchison who also served as notary public for Swisher County at this time. In 1937 this office was filled by J.E. Swepston. J.L. Carter was one of the first notary
publics to be appointed as the original government of Swisher County got under way. It is interesting to note that, excepting the notary publics, the total number of county officials did not increase from 1890 to 1937. . A county home demonstration agent, Miss Ruby Wood, and a county farm agent, Mr. P.C. Colgin, were added to the list.
The first constable was W.J. Siles of precinct 1 who was elected November 17, 1890.
The first Commissioners Court met July 28, 1890. Excerpts from the minutes of the first meeting follow: “Whereas; Be it remembered that on this day there was begun and holden in the town of Tulia and County of Swisher, the first term of the Commissioners Court, the entire court present and the Hon. J.H. Settle presiding. The first purchase was for stationary and supplies. Warrants for $1266.50 were issued to pay for it,bearing interest at eight per cent.” The court met for the second time July 29, 1890. At this time Lon D. Mars was appointed County Attorney. He served two months at $25.00 per month. The next purchase for the county was a safe costing $374.00 which was to be the same size as the one sold to Hale County.
August 11, 1890 the Court advertised for bids on a contract to build a court house, to be constructed of “fine lumber” not to cost more than $1800.00. The contract was let to T.J. Service under whose direction the building was completed that year. The old court, house stood on the west side of the square in the space now occupied by business houses.
We find another account of this building in the court records that follows: November 11, 1890-Judge J.H. Settle presiding-Bonds at the amount of $8000.00 were issued to erect a county court house, built by J.T. Service. The jail was built by Die Bold Sape Company for $4300.00. D.B. Hill was appointed court attorney.
THE PRAIRIE FIRE OF 1901
On August 31st, 1899, my father with my mother, my brother and myself left our old home in the little community of Wilson Prairie, forty miles northwest of Fort Worth, for the long trek to the old Staked Plains, a distance of some three hundred miles. We were two weeks on the road and when we drove up to our friends’ half-dugout which was lighted with a brightly polished kerosene lamp, well, it was a glorious sight.
Soon the men folks began to build our mansion which consisted of a 16’x20′ half-dugout.
Summer passed and the next winter was dry. The stock thrived on the fine 6 to 8 inch high mesquite, gramma and buffalo grasses which were no longer green but were as good as the best quality hay. This set the stage for the prairie fires. That winter and spring we had seen the smoke of several in the distance but none had come our way.
On the morning of April 4th 1901, my sister and I decided to wash, and by the time we were ready to hang out, a brisk southwest wind had sprung up. We had no place to hang them except on the barbed wire fence so we, one at each end, held the sheets up in the wind to dry which didn’t take long. Soon after, we began to smell smoke but could see none. After an hour the smoke began to drift in and was soon dense. We began to wonder what we should and could do if the fire should jump the wide fire guards to the west and south of us. The cattle had come into the corral so we decided for their safety we would drive them outside the corral into the JA ranch so they might run for their lives. With all our efforts, whipping them
with cane stalks, hollering and whooping, we could not get a single one of them out facing that smoke and high wind. Then we decided to set fire to the horse pasture and when it had burned off we would drive them out into it, but the wind was so high we could not.
We then decided we would go out into the field to save our own lives. As we were leaving the house we saw the flames to the north of us leaping high into the air so we immediately decided to go to the southeast corner of the one acre garden. We spread a quilt on the ground, put our mother and the two little children on it and spread a quilt over, then a wet quilt on top, crawled under and waited, peeping out to see what we would see which was nothing but smoke. Soon the main fire had passed and the smoke cleared some and we saw the woodpile was on fire. Then we knew what to do. We must fight fire. We carried water from the dirt storage tank and put out the woodpile. By then the stalks which had blown against the net wire fence were burning furiously. All this time we were greatly concerned about my father and brother who had gone to the Palo Duro Canyon, about twenty miles away, to get wood and fence posts, and well we might have been concerned for they were coming home heavily loaded and were in the path of the fire and would certainly have perished if it had not been for a small depression of a few acres where water had drowned out the grass. They took refuge there and waited until the flames had passed, unloaded and drove in home safely. My father set at once to save his millet stack of about seven hundred bundles but had to leave it for a moment to see about the sheds, and along came a burning cowchip, plumped right into the stack and burned it up. When those cowchips caught fire and turned loose from the ground, they were caught by the wind and traveled at a terrific speed, bouncing ten or twelve feet in the air and scattering fire wherever they went.
This fire started thirty-five miles southwest of us at about 1 :00 P.M. and the head fire, jumping the ninety foot fire guards, reached us in three hours.
Just after the head fire had passed and the side fires still burned, the wind switched to the north and before many hours it had reached more than one hundred miles south. All through the night we could see the glow of some nesters’ feed stacks going up in flames.
By Sarah Nail Corder
This was an incident as related by G. C. Hutchison who was 14 at the time of the Indian Scare. His father, W. B. Hutchison, was surveyor for Swisher County. He said a drunken stage-driver was responsible for the rumor in the year of 1890.
Citizens of the surrounding area hurried to Tulia when the rumor was spread that Indians were on the warpath, butchering all settlers and destroying their homes and they were headed toward Tulia. The story grew as it was repeated and riders were dispatched to every settler’s home telling them to rush into Tulia with their families and to bring their guns. Trenches were dug around the courthouse and the White Hotel, then practically the only building in the city. Posts, hauled by settlers from the Palo Duro and Tule canyons were used for additional fortifications. Mr. Hutchison said guards were sent out some distance from the town at night. They would hold their ears to the ground listening for the hoof beats of the horses, expecting every moment to hear the blood-curdling war whoops of the redskins.
After two nights and a day the excitement began to die down. The story was traced back to its original teller and the settlers departed for their homes.
The stage-driver never returned to Tulia
perhaps it was best that he did not.
Source: TULIA HERALD, July 11,1940
It is possible that some of the early Spanish explorers passed through Swisher County, according to Lula Marjorie Conner Miller’s paper written in 1941 while a student in Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She states that it is more probable that it is more that Coronado journeyed through Swisher County in 1541, since there is some evidence that a farmer used a lance head to mark off his land for several years. Mr. Joe H. Green of Hereford notices the lance head in a field between Tulia and Hereford being used as a stake. At first he thought it was a buffalo spear, but when he scraped the dirt and rust off, he found these words carved on it: “Por Mi Rey” or “For My King.” The Tulia Times Herald dated July 13, 1939 describes the find thus: “The style of the letters definitely place the lance in the early Spanish era, and as Coronado’s expedition is the only known Spanish invasion of the Southern Panhandle, the relic is believed to be the most important evidence yet discovered pointing to the authenticity of the theory that Coronado’s route led him across the South Plains to the Palo Duro Canyon.”