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RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 6, 2009



KINSEARCHING

by

Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825
kinsearching@gmail.com
 

     After appearing sporadically over a span of seven months, my early history of the town of Spur and its citizens reaches its conclusion in this column. By writing the series, I hope readers have acquired new knowledge about and an appreciation of town building and the part it played in settling West Texas. (For background information about this series of articles, see Kinsearching column dated 8 February 2009.)

SPUR, DICKENS COUNTY, TEXAS

     Established even before town lots went on sale, McClure's newspaper extolled the virtues of Spur. Pages 42-43 of J. E. Ericson's article, "Colonization of the Spur Farm Lands," which appeared in the West Texas Historical Association Yearbook, Volume 31 (1955), points out that copies of The Texas Spur were bought and dispersed over a wide area in order to attract settlers and maintain interest in the town. The newspaper's summary of a visitor's statements demonstrates how well the campaign worked.

     "Fred RAGSDALE, a prominent realestate (sic) man of Stamford, was in Spur Friday. Mr. RAGSDALE had just returned from a trip over the Western (sic) part of Texas and said he heard of Spur and saw the Spur paper away out in the mining sections. He heard so much of the town that he came up to satisfy himself of what Spur had done and is doing. After looking over the town, he said that its rapid growth beat anything he ever saw." (31 Dec 1909, p. 1, c. 5) The headlines of the 7 January 1910 issue agreed: "Spur at the Beginning of New Year - The Building of Spur Has Been Rapid and Substantial and Its Growth and Development within the Thirty Days since Its Creation Is Marvelous and Gives Spur a Distinctive Place in the History of Town Building in Western Texas."

     Not all persons who showed interest in the town, however, actually became residents. A percentage of individuals purchased lots as investments and never intended to become citizens. Some people meant to move or establish a business in Spur, but their plans, for various reasons, never materialized. For others, becoming inhabitants was merely wishful thinking. Because enough people came and stayed, the town survived. Spur will celebrate its 100th birthday on 1 November 2009.

     According to the article about Spur in the Handbook of Texas Online (accessed 4 September 2009 by going to the website at  http://www.tshaonline.org/, clicking on Search the Handbook of Texas, and typing in "Spur, Texas"), the population of Spur in 2000 was just under 1,100 people. Although Dickens remains the county seat, Spur is the largest town in the West Texas county. (End of series)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS ON SERIES ABOUT SPUR, TEXAS

     The main goals of my series are to furnish insight into town building in the early 1900s in West Texas (using Spur as an example) and to view Spur's beginnings as seen through the lens of the town newspaper, The Texas Spur. Although I sometimes interjected editorial notes, my series is not--and was never met to be--a comprehensive history. Instead, I gleaned information from several of the newspaper's earliest issues as limited time and circumstances allowed.

     As I gathered information from more newspaper issues than the three mentioned in my 8 February 2009 column, the series of articles evolved in both content and length. Since extracting selected items occurred over a period of time, much worthwhile material was omitted. This series, for instance, mentions the first doctor who hung his shingle in town, but not the first dentist. Nor do articles include facts about some essential businesses, such as the first funeral home, or all religious denominations represented in the town.

     Still, I came across information that is not usually referred to in publications about Spur's first days. One example is the Elite Cafe, which may have gone out of business or later changed its name. An issue of the newspaper states: "The Elite Cafe will sell you a five dollar meal ticket for four dollars and fifty cents." (12 Nov 1909, p. 3, c. 5) The cafe is also mentioned in Kinsearching column dated 15 February 2009.

     Primarily, my series of articles differs from previous publications in emphasis on "everyday people" material, which is especially useful to genealogists, and extensive utilization of data from the 1 October 1909, 29 October 1909, and 12 November 1909 (vol. 1, nos. 1-3) issues of The Texas Spur. None of the early references I scanned referred to the 1 October 1909 issue, although there is the possibility I overlooked it. Rarely mentioned are the 1909 issues for 29 October and 12 November. Generally, the first newspaper issue cited is 3 December 1909. Perhaps the first few newspaper issues were inaccessible for research until they were made available on microfilm.

     For researchers who want to learn about Spur or Dickens County in more detail, standard references (in chronological order) are J. E. Ericson's article, "Colonization of the Spur Farms Lands" in the West Texas Historical Association Yearbook, Volume 31 (1955), pages 41-53; THE ESPUELA LAND AND CATTLE COMPANY: A STUDY OF A FOREIGN-OWNED RANCH IN TEXAS by William Curry Holden (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1970); A HISTORY OF DICKENS COUNTY: RANCHES AND ROLLING PLAINS by Fred Arrington (Quanah, TX: Nortex Offset Publications, Inc., 1971); DICKENS COUNTY: ITS LAND AND PEOPLE by the Dickens County Book Committee/Dickens County Historical Commission (Lubbock, TX: Craftsman Printers, 1986), and The New Handbook of Texas IN SIX VOLUMES (Austin: The Texas State Historical Association, 1996). Handbook articles on various topics mentioned in this series can also be found by visiting the website at http://www.tshaonline.org and click on Search the Handbook of Texas.

     Still published weekly, The Texas Spur began printing in 2009 a series on the history of Spur, in preparation for the town's upcoming centennial. Usually, the articles appear in the newspaper's first issue for each month. Issues of the newspaper used for documentation in individual Kinsearching columns are 1 October 1909 (vol. 1, no. 1), 29 October 1909 (vol. 1, no. 2), 12 November 1909 (vol. 1, no. 3), 3 December 1909 (vol. 1, no. 6), 17 December 1909 (vol. 1, no. 8), 24 December 1909 (vol. 1, no. 9), 31 December 1909 (vol. 1, no. 10), 7 January 1910 (vol. 1, no. 11), 14 January 1910 (vol. 1, no. 12), and 4 November 1910 (vol. 2, no. 1).

     Many of these sources are available at various university libraries and archives, such as the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas. Some may also be accessible at local libraries or through interlibrary loan.


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