White Deer Land Museum

A.H. Doucette, Licensed State Land Surveyor, Comes To Pampa

When the British owners of the White Deer Lands decided to sell their land to prospective farmers, it was necessary to have the land surveyed to establish corners of the sections, each of which consisted of 160 acres. Under the direction of Phil G. Omohundro of Beaumont , Texas , surveyors established section lines for more than 200,000 acres and made the first detailed map of the county, showing the edge of the plains region as it passed through each quarter section. Each section of the county was shown with survey number, abstract reference and title certificate number.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

While Omohundro was surveying for the White Deer Land Company, he told manager T.D. Hobart of a young surveyor who worked for him in Beaumont .

The young surveyor, Albert H. Doucette, a Licensed State Land Surveyor, class of 1904 of Texas A & M, was born June 13, 1884, at Beaumont . He was in charge of nine men surveying the Intercoastal Waterway between Port Arthur , Texas , and Galveston Bay when he was hired by Hobart to work in the Panhandle for six weeks.

Arriving at Pampa on April 9, 1906, Doucette began to subdivide the sections for occupation by new settlers. His employment period of six weeks was extended to two years.

In those days there was much visiting back and forth between ranches. Any event, such as a wedding, picnic or house warming, was joined by everyone from miles around. Entire families attended basket dinners, parties and dances.

Many of these gatherings were held at Lefors, then the county seat of Gray County . Herds of deer and antelope grazed the native grasses. There were woods with tall trees and flowering dogwoods. Beautiful wildflowers covered the hillsides in the springtime.

After being cautioned to watch for quicksand, children loved to wade in the North Fork of Red River. Later families enjoyed delicious fruit butter made from the wild plums that ripened in the thickets.

Probably it was at such a gathering that Doucette met Vera LeFors. The oldest child of Perry and Emma (Lang) LeFors, she was born December 14, 1887, at Mobeetie.

Vera’s father, who had endured trail rides and Indian raids, furthered education, culture, law and order in the budding new territory. Possessor of a large library, he employed a governess to teach his children: Vera, Emmett, Mava, Ersa, Eva, Frieda and Molita. The governess also gave music lessons and Vera learned how to sing. A piano that Perry had shipped from St. Louis is now in John Doucette’s home at Amarillo .

After her days with the governess, Vera attended the Academy of the Sacred Heart at Waco , the only girls’ school in Texas at that time. She completed her education at Clarendon College and became governess to children on a neighboring ranch. On weekends she rode her black pony for seven miles to her family home on West Cantonment Creek.

On February 17, 1908, Doucette and Vera were married at the home of her parents. Immediately after the wedding, the bride and groom left by train for Beaumont to make their home and for Doucette to resume his surveying position there.

They were called back to the Panhandle in the fall of 1909 when Perry LeFors and his daughters, Mava, Ersa, Eva and Freida, died of typhoid fever. Emmett, age 19, was away from home and baby Molita was sent to a neighbor.

Doucette remained in Gray County as an independent surveyor and engineer. He had an office in the White Deer Land Building , and some of his surveying equipment is now on display at the museum in that building.

Doucette and Vera lived in Amarillo , Miami and Canadian before moving to a farm southeast of Pampa in 1911. Their first child, Albert Perry, was born in the Canadian hospital in 1911. Three more children, LeFors, Dorothy (Mrs. Walter Biery) and Berton, were born in the farm home. In 1918 the family moved to Pampa and lived for more than 40 years at 211 North Frost.

Doucette established boundaries of each parcel of land or city lot sold in Pampa . He laid out townsites for Hoover , Cuyler (seven miles southwest of White Deer), White Deer and Kingsmill. After Pampa was incorporated in 1912, he surveyed, platted and filed more than 70 additions to the city.

He served as County Tax Assessos from 1913 to 1919 and was elected county surveyor for the next 30 years.

In 1922 the citizens of Pampa approved (149 for and 18 against) a civic improvement bond for $80,000. Doucette was called upon to plan the street, water and sewer system for Pampa which then had a population of 910.

Doucette was appointed City Engineer from 1922 to 1931. Neither the job as County Tax Assessor nor the job as City Engineer carried any salary but required filing records in the courthouse and keeping developments in order. Doucette’s largest paying jobs were engineering and laying out the entire city water system, wells, pipe, sewer system including the water treatment plant, and streets for paving. (The bones of a mastodon were uncovered when an excavation was made for the foundation for the bottom of a tank.

In 1930-31, highways were the responsibility of the counties, and Doucette engineered and had paved roads north out of Pampa , two roads west to the county line, a road east seven miles and then south to the breaks toward Lefors and a road south toward Bowers City .

In 1918 Doucette helped to organize the Pampa Red Cross and was its first chairman during WW I. He was a member of the Rotary Club, a Mason of the Pampa Lodge, a Registered Professional Engineer, the first Pampa Country Club, and president of Pampa Commercial Club of early days.

Vera Doucette, a charter member of the Red Cross, Pampa Chapter, helped to organize the first Parent Teachers Association in Pampa . She organized the Blue Bonnet Music Club and was a charter member of the Child Study Club and the Twentieth Century Club. A member of the Methodist Church and later Presbyterian Church, she was active in church work. She was a soloist in Pampa ‘s early churches and for over 40 years sang for many weddings, funerals and special occasions.

A.H. Doucette died on October 26, 1964, and Vera LeFors Doucette died on March 6, 1984. Both are buried in Fairview Cemetery at Pampa.

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article.

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