“Crosby County is on the eastern edge of the southern High Plains, bounded on the west by Lubbock County, on the north by Floyd County, on the east by Dickens County, and on the south by Garza County. It was named for Stephen Crosby, a Texas land commissioner during the mid-nineteenth century. U.S. Highway 82 runs west to east across the county, and State highways 207 and 651 are major north-to-south roads.”
“In more modern times the area of Crosby County was inhabited by the Comanches, mounted hunters and warriors who dominated much of the South Plains in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries until their buffalo-based culture gave way to settlers and superior technology. United States Army forces commanded by Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie fought the Comanches at the battle of Blanco Canyon in the future county in 1871. The campaign established what became known as the Mackenzie Trail, used by the first settlers in Crosby County in the late 1870s.”
“From 1874 to 1877 buffalo hunters entered the area, where they took part in the slaughter that exterminated the great buffalo herds. The hunts marked the end of an era. In 1876 the Texas legislature formed Crosby County from lands previously attached to the Young and Bexar districts.”
“The first permanent settler in the area was Henry Clay Smith, who arrived in 1878 and hauled lumber by ox team from Fort Worth to build his “Rock House” in Blanco Canyon; Smith set up a small cattle ranch. In 1879 Paris Cox established a Quaker colony at Marietta on thirty-two sections purchased from the state for twenty-five cents an acre. Ample underground water supported the efforts of the Religious Society of Friends, and Cox helped early settlers by planting corn, oats, sorghum, melons, and vegetables. In 1880 the census counted eighty-two people living in the county, including one black.”
“The Quaker colony flourished for a while as a cultural and economic center and attracted merchants and settlers; in 1882 the colony established one of the first schools on the high plains. Crosby County was formally organized after elections held in 1886, with Estacado (the new name of the town formerly called Marietta) designated as the county seat.”
“As more settlers moved in to establish farms and ranches, the influence of the Quakers declined and the religious orientation of the community was lost. In 1891 Emma became the seat of government. Until the early twentieth century, the county remained dominated by such large ranches as the St. Louis Cattle Company, the Two-Buckle Ranch, the C. B. Livestock Company (founded in 1901) and smaller spreads. Thanks to plentiful grass and sufficient water holes, and despite the lack of rail transportation in early days, the beef-cattle industry thrived.”
“The transition from the era of the giant cattle ranch to one of mixed farming and ranching accelerated during the early twentieth century, when many farmers moved into the area to grow cotton. Only 103 acres was devoted to cotton culture in 1900 and only 324 in 1910. Gins were built at Emma in 1908 and at Lorenzo in 1914, and by 1920 more than 45,400 acres in the county was planted in cotton. The arrival of railroads helped to stimulate economic development between 1905 and 1930, and railroad expansion into the county was closely connected to efforts to subdivide and sell old ranchlands to new farmers.”
“In 1910 local investors, including the C. B. Livestock Company, which owned 80,000 acres in the county, raised $75,000 to induce the Crosbyton-South Plains and the Santa Fe to build forty miles of track between Lubbock and Crosbyton. Owners of the C. B. Company hoped to use the new railroad connection to help them sell plots of land in the new settlements they planned to establish at eight-mile intervals between Crosbyton and Lubbock. The towns of Cedric, Lorenzo, and Idalou (the last in Lubbock County) were founded as a result. Emma, the county seat, faded away after the railroad was routed five miles to the north of the town. In 1910 Crosbyton became the new county seat.”
“Farming continued to develop rapidly in the county throughout the 1920s, as the number of farms increased to 1,114 in 1924 and to 1,739 in 1929. In 1924 cotton was planted on more than 81,200 acres in the county, and by 1929 more than 133,467 acres was devoted to the fiber. As more farmers acquired land from the breakup of large ranches, sorghum and wheat culture also expanded, and some farmers began fruit production as well. By 1920 more than 15,000 fruit trees were growing in the county, producing mostly apples and peaches.”
“The first soil-conservation district in the county was formed in 1941 to assist in crop rotation, soil building, irrigation, mesquite eradication, and terrace building. The mechanization of farms, which had begun in the 1930s, also helped to stimulate new crop production. Machinery was too expensive for most small farmers, however, and its utilization was one significant reason for the demise of family farms that became obvious in Crosby County by the late 1950s and continued afterwards.”
“In 1990 the economic base of the county appeared stable, with truck farming and oil production contributing significantly. Communities included Ralls, Lorenzo, Farmer, Kalgary, Owens, Robertson, and Wake. In 2014 Crosbyton, the county seat, had a population of 1,678. The county’s total population was 5,899. For residents and tourists the county offers such attractions as White River Reservoir, Silver Falls, and Blanco Canyon.”
- Handbook of Texas Online, John Leffler, “Crosby County”
I was the guest of Crosbyton and Crosby County on August 15, 2016.
Crosby County Courthouses – 1887 & 1891 (Estacado & Emma)
Prior to the courthouse that stands today, Crosby County had “two” others. The first, constructed in the Quaker settlement of Estacado, bears no surviving photos. Nor can you find any information about its appearance or designer. In fact, all I can tell you is that it existed, and was brought until the world in 1887.
A “second” courthouse was built when the county seat moved to Emma (1891). However, I understand the one there was simply the relocated Estacado courthouse, albeit a rebuilt version of it. Before the move, the building was literally taken apart and reduced down to its parts. The county then paid $3,000 for its reassembly in Emma. It stood two stories tall there, so I assume the Estacado version had to as well.
While technically this was the same building in both cities, the Texas Historical Commission and other sources maintain there were two separate courthouses entirely.
At any rate, with no photos of “either”, I’ve combined them under one general umbrella.
Crosby County Courthouse – 1914 (Crosbyton)
(Photo Courtesy: THC)
(Photo Courtesy: TxDOT)
This Classical Revival courthouse is made from concrete and red brick, the design of Fort Worth architect M.L. Waller. The contractor was an S. Goodrum (from Sweetwater).
It was constructed upon land donated by town founder Julian Bassett, and completed in 1914 (four years after Crosbyton became the county seat). In the period between courthouses, court was held in a local schoolhouse. The first county judge to utilize this building was named Pink Parrish. What a character he had to have been with a name like that.
The courthouse faces directly northeast, but the square doesn’t rotate with it. Rather than any one street, the building faces the intersection of Aspen Street and Berkshire Avenue.
This courthouse really captures that Classical Revival essence elegantly.There was a shootout on these steps in 1923. Apparently, two men were on trial here for attempting to murder a local named “Poppin” Payne (over a row concerning gambling debts). Shortly after court one day, claiming he would never get the justice he deserved otherwise, Poppin shot them both here while they sat talking with their lawyer. Frontier justice at its finest.
Wave hello to Big Brother.
The view from the front door
The cornerstone is nearby.
The northwest entrance
This side of the courthouse has a really impressive veterans’ memorial.
This is so cool. How often do you see a list of Spanish-American War veterans on memorials like this? Even rarer, Indian War veterans. That’s really telling of which part of Texas this is in.
The Crosby County Sheriff’s Office and Jail complex
This is the southwest façade. It’s the only one without an entrance.
The western corner (seen from the backdoor of the sheriff’s office)
A small building sits adjacent to the courthouse on this side. I’m not sure of its function.
The southeast entrance (and an impressive waterspout trail)
Here’s that entrance again.
Crosbyton & Crosby County
Scenes from Highway 82 westbound between Dickens and Crosbyton
Crosbyton’s got everything.
Previous Courthouse: Dickens County
Next Courthouse: Floyd County