White Deer Land Museum

Landmark House Still Standing, Ghosts And All

A house which served as one of the first ranch headquarters in the Texas Panhandle can be seen at the southeastern edge of the town of White Deer, Texas . The old ranch house has a history dating back for more than one hundred years.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

Several years after the Diamond F ranch headquarters was established on White Deer Creek in 1882, the manager, Harrison Groom, put in a new camp at the edge of a little lake southwest of the present town of White Deer. One of the Diamond F cowhands made the 44 mile round trip between the new camp and the original headquarters in five and one half hours. He drove a buckboard harnessed to two little wild Arizona mules.

At the new camp, a log house with sod roof was built. Logs for the house were brought, for a distance of fifteen miles from White Deer Creek.

On March 24, 1886, Alfred Ace Holland was employed by the Francklyn company to take charge of a farm near the new camp. Holland , who lived in a dugout where the White Deer Cemetery is now (1989), ran the first thresher that was brought to the Plains. The thresher came from Dodge City and was used in threshing oats, millet and Johnson grass.

Holland planted trees at a location where Harrison Groom planned to build a beautiful mansion. The mansion was never built for Groom because the Francklyn company went into receivership, and a new company, White Deer Lands, was organized.

George Tyng, who became the first manager of White Deer Lands on September 21, 1886, arranged to sell the Francklyn cattle and prepared to sell the land for agricultural purposes. Realizing that purchasers of land would need water, he had the first sucessful water well drilled in 1887 at the location cleared for Harrison Groom’s mansion. (B.B. Groom had drilled an unsuccessful well in 1886).

Tyng’s well, drilled on Section 25 of Block 7, struck water at 305 feet, which rose 18 feet in the well, in a strata of sandstone; a pocket was drilled 34 feet deeper.

The camp headquarters was then moved two miles northeast to the location of the well. Later,Tyng wrote that the logs of the old house would no longer support the roof of earth and that they did in fact smash down six months after the move.

Also in 1887, the Southern Kansas Railway of Texas laid a roadbed across the White Deer pasture. A station, which the railroad officials designated as Paton, was located about two miles northwest of the camp of White Deer Lands. Soon after the railroad was opened for operation on January 15, 1888, Tyng recommended to the trustees of White Deer Lands that a considerable outlay should be expended to advertise the farm to passengers riding the train.

On April 29, 1888, Tyng wrote: “This outlay need not be large. … A house of four rooms, wood shed and barn for about four work animals, and a few cows should be enough.”

On September 12, 1888, trustee Frederic Foster in New York wrote to the British bondholders: “Tyng will spend about $2,500 on the house and outbuildings of which $1,100 will be spent on the house and the balance for buildings and fence for the protection of stock. This outlay is for the purpose of illustration of what can be done by farmers who settle on the estate at a moderate cost.”

Lumber for the buildings was hauled from Dodge City , Kansas . The biggest part of the house was built with white pine.

On December 3, 1888, Tyng wrote to Foster: “White Deer (farm) begins to have a homestead look like a Pennsylvania Dutch farm. Red barn, big haystack, good corral, fat stock, good poultry, and a house unpretentious but comfortable.

In the fall of 1888, an application for a post office at Paton was filed by 42 residents of the area. Since there was already a post office named Paton in Texas , another name had to be selected.

The post office was established as Whig on December 17, 1888, but was changed to White Deer on January 7, 1889. Tyng wrote to Foster that White Deer was more appropriate since the locality was already known by that name, and that it would be a good advertisement for White Deer Lands. Subsequently, railroad officials changed the name of their station from Paton to White Deer.

In 1888, William F. and Frederick W. Niedringhaus of St. Louis leased a range from White Deer Lands, and the new house became the headquarters for the N Bar N ranch. By way of a celebration, a protracted dance, which began on Christmas and lasted until the New Year, was held at the White House, as it was then called.

Cowboys rode for a hundred miles to attend the dance. Because the temperature was below zero Henry and Fannie Lovett borrowed a cart to come from their home near near present Lefors.

The Niedringhaus brothers sent a carload of graniteware dishes and cooking utensils. There was plenty of food: roast beef, baked ham, pots of beans, stewed fruit and big washpots of coffee.

The women had good beds in the ranch house and the men slept in the bunk house. They danced until they got tired, slept awhile, ate awhile, and then danced again. Dances were the square dance, the polka, the schottische and the waltz. Many of the men were good callers, especially the cowboys, and there were also some good fiddlers.

In the fall of 1891, Tyng began construction of buildings at Sutton ( Pampa ) in preparation for moving the office of White Deer Lands to the town the land company was planning to establish.

In 1892, the Neidringhaus brothers removed their cattle from White Deer Lands because the land company wanted its property cleared of large herds. The last cattle drive from the Panhandle left from the N Bar N headquarters. However, there were still cattle and cowboys in the area.

The family of Wiley and Katie Vincent, who came from Vernon , Texas , to the Panhandle in October, 1902, lived for about a year at the former N Bar N ranch house.

At that time, cowboys referred to it as the haunted ranch house. Some of them thought that the house was haunted by the ghost of a cook who had died in an upstairs room.

One dark night when Wiley and the cowboys were away, Katie heard a stomping sound as though someone was walking upstairs. When the men returned, Katie told them that she was not afraid because she had decided that the sound she heard was made by a rat moving along the attic with his long tail thumping on the floor.

In 1917, Foster, trustee of the White Deer Land Company, sold property, including the old ranch house, to J.W. Wells. The house is still (1989) owned by the J.W. Wells Estate.

J.W. Wells was secretary of the White Deer Independent school district and a justice of the peace. His family occupied the ranch house when the first volume of Carson County history was published in 1966.

About that time, a newspaper article written by Tex DeWeese, editor of The Pampa Daily News, mentioned that chalk marks could still be seen in the dusty, unused attic. These marks were made by men who had much to do with the early history of the Panhandle of Texas . Some of them were Jesse Wynne, Henry Lovett, Jim Williams and John Henry.

DeWeese wrote: “On eerie moonlight nights when you drive along the back road that fronts this old house … one is almost certain that the ghosts of the old fronstiersmen must be gathering around the campfire back of the chuck wagon, and that their spirit-talk must be of the things they planned to make these Panhandle plains the grand spot that they have turned out to be for the modern generation.”

In the White Deer Land Museum at Pampa , there is a map which shows the lake where Camp No. 1 was located, and the site of White Deer Ranch. Also the museum has pictures of Camp No. 1 and the ranch headquarters of White Deer Lands.

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.

Closed Accordian Default Hidden

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

error: Content is protected !!