“Lynn County embraces 915 square miles of almost level terrain dotted with an occasional draw or playa.”
“The Comanches ruled the region until they were defeated by the United States Army during the Red River War of 1873–74 and subsequently withdrawn from the plains. Small skirmishes occurred in Lynn County during the Indian Wars. Col.Ranald S. Mackenzie‘s Fourth United States Cavalry visited Tahoka Lake in 1872, and in November 1874 attacked a small encampment of Indians near Double Lakes and another at Tahoka Lake.”
“Between 1877 and the early 1880s buffalo hunters swarmed across Lynn County and the South Plains to exterminate the last great herds of buffalo. In the early 1880s ranchers began to appear in the county. Initially, only a miniscule economy developed.”
“The county remained sparsely settled ranching territory for two decades after 1880. It had no towns; the population was nine in 1880, twenty-four in 1890, and seventeen in 1900. However, after 1900 the situation began to change. Farmers began to encroach on the ranchers’ domain, especially after land appropriations for education were carried out. By 1903 enough people lived in Lynn County to call for its formal political organization.”
“The county had been formed in 1876 and named for Alamo defender George Washington Lynn (or Linn), but it remained unorganized until 1903. In that year a majority of its residents forced organization on the outnumbered ranchers. In an election held on April 7 the county was organized, with the new town of Tahoka as the county seat.”
“Subsequently, Lynn County began to grow steadily as farmers pushed ranchers off most of the land. Between 1900 and 1910 the number of farms in the county grew from five to 201 and the number of improved acres from 246 to 20,108. Initially corn and grains were the leading crops, but by 1910 cotton emerged as the premier farm product. By 1920, 23,085 acres was devoted to cotton production; the crop that year was 9,969 bales. In 1930 the acres had increased to 204,005, and production had risen to 27,179 bales.”
“As this cotton-growing industry emerged, the county prospered and grew; the population increased from 17 in 1900 to 1,713 in 1910, 4,751 in 1920, and 12,372 in 1930. Numerous new towns were founded during the early years of the twentieth century.”
“Lynn County’s cotton and cattle economy developed, a transportation network emerged. In 1909–10 the Santa Fe extended a branch line from Lubbock to Tahoka and Lamesa via Slaton. This line gave rise to the new town of O’Donnell, and Wilson was established on the line in 1912. Crude, graded, dirt roads were built to encourage wagon and automotive traffic.”
“By 1938 the county had forty-five miles of paved roads: fifteen miles north to the Lubbock County line, fifteen miles west to the Terry County line, and fifteen miles south to O’Donnell. Ultimately, Lynn County developed a comprehensive network of highways and farm-to-market roads, with two major routes, U.S. highways 87 and 380, intersecting at Tahoka.”
“A new element was added to the Lynn County economy after 1950. Oil discoveries in the far eastern part of the county led to modest production.”
“By the 1990s the county had established a stable economy revolving around cotton production, supplemented by cattle and oil. Roughly 320,000 acres (55 percent) of the land area is used to grow cotton, which produces 90 percent of the agricultural income. The remaining 10 percent comes from cattle, hog, sorghum, wheat, and sunflower production. Irrigated land totals about 50,000 acres, but by the early 1980s some irrigated farms were running out of water.”
“The bleak days of the Great Depression dropped the population to 11,931 in 1940; then the mechanization and consolidation of agriculture led to further drops, to 11,030 in 1950, 10,914 in 1960, and 9,107 in 1970. Afterward, the population continued its steady decline. In 1980 the census reported 8,605 residents, and by 1990 the population had fallen to 6,758, with the majority residing in towns. Most of the remainder of the population lived on farms and ranches.”
Handbook of Texas Online, Donald R. Abbe, “LYNN COUNTY“
I was the guest of Lynn County and Tahoka on July 28, 2013.
Lynn County Courthouse – 1916
(Photo Courtesy: THC)
Architect W.M. Rice designed this elegant courthouse in the Classical Revival style.
Entering Tahoka from the west on Highway 380
(Photo Courtesy: Google Maps)
In Tahoka the road runs through the actual square plot of land on which the courthouse sits. This makes the Lynn County veterans’ memorial “across the street” from the courthouse itself.
Permanently installed at the top of the northern façade are the words: MERRY CHRISTMAS.
The design above the windows can also be found in Lynn County’s sister courthouse in Freestone County.
Previous Courthouse: Terry County
Next Courthouse: Garza County