Swisher County, Texas lies in the Panhandle of Texas. It is a land of beautiful blue skies, extraordinary sunsets of many colors, fabulous sunrises and gorgeous harvest moons. The beauty of the sky, the sunsets, sunrises and harvest moons are best viewed here because the horizon is unobstructed and seems to go forever. It has a beauty all of its own – this flat, windswept land.
The first settlers were no doubt the buffaloes and Indians even though evidence has been found that Coronado and his Spanish forces crossed the area in search of the mythical cities of gold in 1541. Perhaps conquistadors thought they had found what they were looking for when they came upon the Tule Canyon.
About the year 1750 the Comanche Indians were pushed south from their home in Eastern Colorado by their neighbors, the Sioux. Many of the drifted down into the Panhandle region, where they remained until about 1875.
The Plains Indians did not give up easily. Many battles were fought before the United States troops conquered them and sent them to reservations.
When the white man began to invade Texas, the Indians were driven out of the more southern and eastern parts of the state and they took refuge in the northern and western parts. Then as the pioneers drifted to the Panhandle, the Indians were again forced to find new hunting grounds.
In 1883, Charles Goodnight expanded his now famous J.A. ranch partnership into Swisher County. He built the first log cabin east of the present town of Tulia to be used as a line camp and headquarters for his new Tule Ranch. Early settlers sometimes found seasonal employment on Goodnight’s ranch operation. It was a hard life on these plains for those first settlers.
December 1886 brought Mr. J. H. Parrish to land in Swisher and he was the first actual settler in Swisher County. Soon thereafter, in 1887, the T. A. Gray family and the W. G. Connor family settled in the county. W. G. Connor built a dugout which was the first home in Tulia.
In 1890 Swisher County was formally organized. The town of Tulia (named for the Middle Tule Creek) was chosen as the County Seat. Tulia was nicknamed the “Windmill City” as every house had a windmill. The commissioner’s court immediately advertised for bids on a courthouse to be built of “fine lumber”. The first courthouse completed in September 1890 was a two story pine structure. It was used until 1909 when a brick, three story structure, topped by a dome with four clocks was completed. In 1962, a fire damaged the courthouse and it was remodeled. The upper story and the dome were removed and two new wings were constructed. This change to the beloved courthouse structure was so opposed by old timers that none of the commissioners on the court at that time were re-elected. The town grew around the courthouse square and stretched west to the railroad tracks. The population of Tulia began to grow and the town withstood the Great Depression and the World Wars. The decades of the 50’s and 60’s became a prosperous time for farmers and ranchers as water was abundant.
Tulia, Happy, and Kress, the towns of Swisher County, and the community of Vigo Park have somehow survived the years and our hope for the future is never ending. Swisher County, Texas, pioneers were a hearty lot who withstood many hardships to live on these plains that were only a sea of buffalo grass stretching as far as one could see, big skies, “blue northern”, rattlesnakes, prairie dogs and Indians.