Organization and Development of Nolan County Texas

In “Our Community: Organization and Development of Nolan County – Heritage of the Great Southwest,” Lelia Jeanette Wade crafts a compelling narrative that spans the rugged early days of Nolan County, Texas, to its thriving presence in the early 20th century. Through a detailed exploration, Wade unveils the indomitable spirit of the pioneers, the complex interactions with Native American tribes, and the transformative impact of technological advancements like the railroad on this remote corner of the Southwest.

This manuscript, self-published in 1960, not only documents the historical milestones of Nolan County but also encapsulates the essence of the American West’s evolution. With a keen eye on both the macro and micro, Wade guides us through the arrival of the first white settlers in 1873, their conflicts and collaborations with indigenous peoples, the rise of ranching and farming as economic mainstays, and the pivotal role of Sweetwater as the county’s heart.

Through the lens of “Our Community,” readers are invited to traverse the journey of settlers who transformed a harsh landscape into a livable region. The narrative is enriched with anecdotes of daily life, revealing the fabric of a community knitted together through hardship, innovation, and the pursuit of prosperity. Wade delves into the establishment of the first institutions, from schools to hospitals, which laid the groundwork for Sweetwater’s development into a regional hub.

This manuscript is not just a historical account; it’s a homage to the resilience of those who ventured into the unknown to lay down roots in Nolan County. Through stories of buffalo hunts, encounters with the railroad, and the establishment of governance and social order, Wade paints a vivid picture of a community’s evolution. It’s a tale of survival, growth, and the enduring spirit of the American West, making “Our Community” an essential read for those interested in the rich tapestry of Texas history and the broader narrative of the American frontier.

Table of Contents

PART I Growth and Development of Nolan County and Sweetwater, Texas

TitlePage #
The Buffalo and Buffalo Hunters5
Pioneering in the West7
Indians and Indian Weapons10
The Panhandle of Texas12
Sweetwater Creek15
Nolan County, “Our Community”17
Dora, First Settlement in Nolan County23
Law and Government Come to Nolan County24
The Stagecoach Plays Its Part28
Railroads Come to Nolan County29
Ranching Comes to Nolan County32
Old Settlers of Nolan County38
First Things First in Sweetwater41
Sweetwater, “Distributing Center of West Texas”43
Sweetwater Post Office, Then and Now48
Governments of Sweetwater51
Banking in Sweetwater, Early-Day and Today53
Sweetwater Hospitals56
Entertainment of the Early Days57
Entertainment in Nolan County and Sweetwater Today60
Churches, Early-Day and Modern62
Sweetwater Schools Then and Now67
Sweetwater School Boards Through the Years71
An Indian Raid Through Nolan County73

PART II “Tales of the Old West”

TitlePage #
A Would-Be Sheep Raiser80
The Cowboy, Two Ladies, and a Horse81
The Cowboy and the School Teacher82
Prairie Dog Town in the Olden Days83
Rabbits and the Depression84
Excerpts from a Governor’s Speech85
The Razor-Back Hogs
A Carload of Chickens
Skipping Down the Stairs86

Illustrations and Maps

TitlePage #
The Lower Plains (Introductory Map)
The Buffalo4-5
The Gun that Killed 10,000 Buffaloes6
Pioneering in the West7
The Sentinel9
Early Indian Weapons11
The Panhandle (Map)12
The Creek for Which “Our Town” Was Named14
Nolan County (Map)16
Philip Nolan18
Products of Nolan County20
Dora, First Settlement in Nolan County (Map)22
First Sheriff of Nolan County25
Law and Government Come to Nolan County26
Early Stage Coach27
First Texas and Pacific Engine in Nolan County29
Railroads Come to Nolan County (Map)30
An Early-Day Cowboy in Nolan County32
Cowboy of the Range33
An Early-Day Ranch34
A Modern-Day Ranch34
Home on the Range35
Old Settlers of Nolan County37
The Music Makers39
Sweetwater, “Distributing Center” (Map)44
Street Scene in Early-Day Sweetwater45
Early-Day Post Office, 189747
Post Offices in Sweetwater49
Thomas Trammell, a Real Pioneer53
Entertainment in Early-Day Sweetwater and Nolan County58
First Church in Sweetwater61
First Methodist Church in Sweetwater61
First Christian Church63
First Presbyterian Church64
First Baptist Church65
Trinity Baptist Church66
Sweetwater’s First School68
Sweetwater’s First Stone School68
A Modern School, John H. Reagan Junior High70
Indian Raid Through Nolan County (Map)74
Tree Where the Baby Was Hanged75
“Wanted, Dead or Alive”79


Wade, Lelia Jeanette, “Our Community: Organization and Development of Nolan County – Heritage of the Great Southwest” self published, 1960



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