Organization Of Gray County

(The following Museum Memento is a repetition of a previous column dated April 2, 1990.) The election to organize Gray County was held on May 27, 1902. John Henry was the presiding judge of the election. D. C. Davis and P. E. Gragg were the election judges. B. F. and J. W. Talley were the election clerks who tallied the votes. John Henry was also the presiding officer of Precinct 1, and that precinct voted at his ranch home near Laketon.

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Eloise Lane

The voters were, W.R. Flowers, A.E. Gething, A.M. Renner, N.A. Gray, J.C. Short, J.E. Williams, Henry Thut, W.R. Holder, F.M. Faulkner, W.T. Wilks, E.N. Lynch, R.H. and G.D. Jahns, Sam Stump, M. McConley, M.A. Lewis, Perry Lefors, J.A. Paris, J.S. Denson, C.F. Sohns, L.E. Glen, J.W. Davidson, J.M. Jackson, G.M. Moon, J.B. Baird, L.O. Boney, S.H. Sohns, W.W. Harrah, J.L. Martin, Hermin Kisenmenger, W.L. Gulls, H.M. Williams, G.H. Saunders, D.C. Davis, B.F. Talley, J.W. Talley, Perry Gragg, J.R. Henry.

A special meeting of the Roberts County Commissioners,Court on June 9, 1902, confirmed the first officers of Gray County: George H. Saunders, County Judge; Slier Faulkner, County and District Clerk; J.T. Crawford, Sheriff and Tax Col- lector; Henry Thut, County Treasurer; L.O. Boney, County Assessor; J.T. Pollard, Court Surveyor; J.J. McCarty, Hide and Animal Inspector; J.M. Jackson, Commis- sioner, Precinct 1; H.B. Lovett, Commissioner, Precinct 2; S.B. Owens, Commis- sioner, Precinct 4; J.C. Short, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1; J.A. Hopkins, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3; Perry Lefors, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4. Since there were two candidates for Commissioner in Precinct 3, and each received the same number of votes, it was declared that no Commissioner was elected in Precinct 3.

No Justice of the Peace was elected for Precinct 2. The county seat of Gray County was elected to be Lefors on 160 acres of the Travis Leach survey. The Supreme Court of Texas had decided that it would take two-thirds of the entire vote cast to locate the county seat at any one point more than five miles from the center of the county. Lefors is at the exact center of Gray County. On June 30, 1902, the first Commissioners Court of Gray County convened at Lefors. The first act of the court was to approve T.J. Crawford’s bond of $2,208 as Tax Collector, with D.C. Davis, T.J. Roby and L.H. Webb as sureties.

Henry Thut was instructed to get the money which had been deposited in the Treasury at Austin while the county was unorganized. The amount was $7,307.98. Slier Faulkner, who was sent to Miami to get the county records, later said that he brought them all back under his arm, as there were only six or seven small deed records.

These early deeds show that distances were measured by varas. A vara (Spanish for “pole”) is a Texas unit of length equal to 33.33 inches (84.66 centimeters). Salaries for the commissioner court members were $3 per day for the first year. The average meeting lasted two days. On July 1, 1902, the court accepted the bid of George D. Barnard and Com- pany for $2,457.50 for a complete set of books and miscellaneous stationery. War- rants in amount of $250 each were to be issued fort the aggregate amount. A file case was purchased for $10.00. On July 7, 1902, salaries for county officers were set at a court meeting.

The judge and clerk were to receive $500 annually; the sheriff, $300; and the treasurer a two and one half percent commission on taxes collected. An order was approved to purchase a vault, five gallons of coal oil, an oil can, two lamps and two brooms. Advertisements were to be placed in the Miami Chief and the Banner Stockman of Clarendon for building a stone or brick vault in the courthouse. If of stone, the walls were to be eighteen inches thick with one four-inch air chamber. The ground plan by S.B. Owens for the new courthouse was accepted. The con- tract for construction of the building was let to H.E. Weckesser of Miami for $2,208.50. H.G. Saunders was empowered to hire a lawyer to write a more definite contract for the construction of the courthouse.

The officials who supervised the election on May 27, 1902, were awarded $2.00 each. On August 11, 1902, the county clerk was authorized to transcribe all neces- sary records in Roberts County which belonged in Gray County. This included cattle brands. J.R. Henry, Henry Williams, J.E. Williams, W.R. Holder and Perry Lefors were appointed road viewers to lay out a road from Lefors to the Gray County line to intersect the Miami and Mobeetie road at the Gray County line. On August 12, a contract was awarded to George W. Nickol to build a brick vault at a cost of $995. H.E. Weckesser was hired to furnish the vault with neces- sary pigeon holes, book shelves and drawers to be made of poplar or white pine lumber for $125.

All members of the court agreed to erect the courthouse on Block 38. On September 27, H.B. Lovett was sent to Grimes County to inspect, classify, and find the cash value of Gray County School Land. George D. Barnard was allowed $77.91 for books. The county clerk was asked to procure two dozen good chairs. The first marriage license in Gray County was issued on October 1, 1902, to George D. Jahns and Nettle V. Renner of the Laketon commumity. On October 2, the contract with H.E. Weckesser was accepted and he was to be paid $25 to build a grand jury room. An election on November 4 included a proposal for a state constitutional amendment providing for a poll tax as a qualification for voting. This carried in Gray County as well as in the state. Oil November 11, the county officials bought four coal stoves from J.M. Jack- son and paid A.E. Davis $1.25 to haul them from Miami.

The Johnson Mercantile Company was allowed $4.20 for five gallons of coal oil, an oil can, two lamps and two brooms. Slier Faulkner was allowed $4.91 for transcribing and purchasing records of Roberts County that pertained to Gray County. H.B. Lovett was awarded $59.40 for his trip to Grimes County. A.A. Holland was appointed presiding off- icer for Precinct 2. It was decided to lease 17,712 acres of Gray County school land at five cents an acre for a term of five years to the Scharbauer Cattle Company of Midland, Texas A proposition was made to George Tyng, agent for White Deer Lands, for lay- ing out a first class road, 60 feet wide, from Lefors to the west line of Gray County by way of Pampa.

On December 10, a special election, petitioned by the people of Alanreed, was held for the purpose of determining whether or not to permit the sale of intoxicating liquors. There were 34 votes for and 24 against prohibition. On December 22, the Johnson Mercantile Company was allowed $41.75 for five tons, 445 pounds of coal at $8.00 per ton. Judge B.M. Baker was the first district judge to preside at the new county seat. On November 22, 1902, he fixed the terms of court at two years, to begin on the first Mondays in January and July. The first district court began on January 12, 1903, with L.D. Miller acting as district attorney; J.T. Crawford, sheriff and Siler Faulkner, acting district clerk. The first grand jury of the county was impaneled with Perry LeFors as f ore- man and these members: J.B. Baird, B.F. Talley, C.W. Cox, W.R. Holder, T.P. Hays, W.N. Huntsmen, T.D. Cocks, Frank Kelley, J.L. Gray, P.R. Reeves and Silas Camp- bell. The Bailiffs were J.C. Short, B.F. Harris and E.P. Vincent. The first jury commission was composed of D.B. Veatch, T.D. Cocks and Henry Thut, Sr.

The first civil case tried in county court was a grass burning charge against the Rock Island (Choctaw) Railway. The first recorded birth in Gray County was that of William T. Fraser, born September 8, 1903. He was the son of John and Margaret Fraser of the Boydston community. The first birth of date, but third in the list of entries, was that of Marion Thomas, daughter of Alice and T.M. Thomas. She was born July 19, 1903, at Alanreed. Some early settlers insisted that Charlie M. Webb, born January 3, 1903, should be considered as first.

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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