White Deer Land Museum

The Sutton RR Station

Samuel Catlin Case, brother of Emma Lane, was working as a section foreman for the Southern Kansas Railroad in 1889 when his wife, Emily Jean Townsend Case, and daughter, Hallie Antoinette (Mrs. A.A. Tiemann), came from Garnett, Kansas, to join him at Sutton (formerly Glasgow).

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

Emily said that the trip from Kansas, called the Cherokee Run, was practically the same as pictured in the movie production of Cimarron .

In a newspaper article, “Coyotes and Cowboys Clearly Recalled by Pioneer Woman,” Emily told about her arrival at Sutton:

“My husband met me with a lantern, and as we walked down a cow trail, I saw a light which came from a dugout in which Mr. and Mrs. T.H. Lane were living temporarily. Their family was the first to live at the railroad station, and ours was the second. We took up some state land at $1 an acre with forty years to pay.

“We lived with the Lane family until my husband, working evenings, was able to build a rude hut out of foot lumber, Tin cans, employed as a covering, helped to keep out the winds, which seemed to be even stronger then than now.   Most of our furniture was made at home but a stove and bed were sent from other points. In order to have a guest room, however, we built a bunk like that typical of cowboy life.

“We went to Kiowa, Kansas , once each month to do our shopping and we would buy enough food, clothing and other necessities  to last until the next month. Water and coal were shipped to this territory.”

On June 1, 1887, Sam Case had received the Doctor of Medicine degree from the American Medical College at St. Louis , but he chose not to practice that profession. The family story is that he was sent to intern in an insane asylum and found the experience so unnerving that he said he could never doctor humanity again. His medical diploma and his doctor’s prescription scale for pocket or valise are in the museum.

Also in the museum is a pair of yearling size buffalo horns which Emily found about 1890. The horns were polished by a man who worked for the railroad

The railroad station known as Sutton in 1889 was located on White Deer Lands, an area of 631,000 acres in Hutchinson , Carson , Gray and Roberts Counties . About 14 miles southwest of Sutton, the manager, George Tyng, was living on the demonstration farm of the company. On December 1, 1889, Tyng wrote a detailed report to trustee Frederic Foster in New York .

“The present year (1889) has not offered inducements for putting White Deer Lands upon the market, but indications all point to the beginning of 1890 of a satisfactory demand for them.

“We want some kind of village from which to sell lands in Roberts and Gray Counties . These lands are not conveniently accessible to White Deer Farm, nor from Miami and not at all so from Panhandle, but they would be very easily got at from a village at Sutton, on the railroad laid out on survey 102, block 3 in Gray County.

“A boarding house, livery stable, and grocery and variety store, backed by a railroad station, telegraph and post office, are great helps to the sale of nearby lands. They (settlers) would all come quickly enough if we let down the bars and give invitation.

“It will not cost very much to plot and survey out a town at Sutton, and not so very much more to drill a well there for supplying water to travelers, visitors and first residents. Probably no direct great profit could be made out of the town; nor should that be the intention. The motive should be that of adding value and hastening sale of surrounding lands. “

Nearly 18 months passed before the British stockholders of White Deer Lands agreed to Tyng’s proposal to start a town at Sutton. Tyng reported the progress of this undertaking in his letters to Foster.

June 1, 1891 – (after a big hail) “The well-boring outfit is on the way to Sutton … probably stuck in the mud. Before contracting for that well, I waited to see what the season (for wheat) is really going to be … it is going to be good enough. Field notes and working sketch of Block 3 will be here this week and the section surveys will begin at once.”

September 4, 1891 – “Having had some experience of the disappointments and petty annoyances of trying to make civilized things in out of the way uncivilized places, I look forward to the next two months at Sutton without extravagant delight. The owner may with similar feelings look back on them and their cost in case results do not realize my expectations. But in this part of the world things really do look better and more promising than I had expected to find them.

“We need right now in Gray County some place in which men and animals can sleep, eat and drink, to which we can bring buyers and from which they can go to see and we to show what we have to sell.”

September 27, 1891 – “Sutton is a school in which I am learning self control. I have heretofore partly described to you the difficulties presented to settlement by isolation. I am there feeling them, such as would drive or ruin any settler not stubborn and well fixed.

“Am going to Sutton in the morning. Am sorry you encourage me to spend money at Sutton; fresh expense crops up, and in meeting it I shall appear to be taking advantage of your tolerance. “

October 3, 1891 – “My Sutton Frankenstein has not yet quite succeeded in destroying me though it is a harder master than I had expected. The railroad persisted in taking my stuff to the other Sutton ( Sutton County on the Edwards Plateau in southwest Texas ) and delay and costs are maddening. However, I have a nice lot of men and the future of Sutton promises to amply compensate the throes of its parturition.  The inertia of the wheat crop is  gradually being overcome; one hundred acres are in and growing nicely. The rest will follow quickly as soon as the ground gets dry enough for mules to walk in it.”

Author’s footnote: In the May 1, 1989, article “Texas Panhandle sparsely populated prior to railroad,” a correction will read, “In the summer of 1878, a weekly mail Star Route was established between Fort Elliot and Las Vegas, N.M.”

“Sutton came near acquiring notoriety as a haunt of dangerous bugs. A landbuyer camped with me there and as we slept on the ground a centipede about four inches long got into his blankets and caused an uproar. The next morning I shook one out of my pants and kept quiet. That afternoon my boss carpenter had one nearly five inches long fasten its fangs into his finger. More uproar and reminiscence of fatal cases were raked up from muddy memories. Mac is a capital fellow during his really long intervals between drinks. But the nervous shock demanded stimulants, and the demand was backed by appeals and advice to save his life by drawing the centipede “pizen” in tarantula-juice whiskeys. So my carpenter got onto the first passing cattle-train and went to Canadian and ginned up for three days. But the centipede bite was so harmless in spite of the Canadian whiskey and though it drew blood copiously, that it did not even swell the finger.

However, all hands turned out for a centipede hunt and that afternoon 226, from two to five inches long, were killed on the acre of ground devoted to sites. I dissected and lectured on the absence of poison glands and harmlessness of the little creatures. But the eloquence was wasted until Mac returned safe and unswelled.

“Rains since September 25 have been the best for several years. The railroads have been washed out in many places, delaying movements of freight. Our work at Sutton has been much retarded and expenses increased, but the good effect upon the country is incalculable. A train of land-viewers passed through here this afternoon of whom some worked for the Santa Fe or are coming to look at Block B2 (area of Lefors) Not much is expected of them, but their coming is a beginning of encouragement.

I am going tomorrow to Claude, Ft. Worth , Dallas and the other Sutton to rescue some lumber strayed there.”

On November 30, 1891, Tyng ordered 20 tons of coal for Sutton.

December 10, 1891 – “Have been rather crowding the boys here, exchanging the nonenduring ones for more resistant material. My water-man threw up the sponge some days ago and I have not yet laid hands on successors. Carpenters and painters have worked Sundays and overtime at night.

“We are nearly to the end of the task … if we don’t burn up from lamps and lanterns.”

On December 21,1891, Tyng received from Foster a letter addressed to White Deer P.O., Sutton , Texas .

Tyng went to his home in Victoria, Texas, to spend Christmas with his wife and three sons. On January 17, 1892, he wrote to Foster:

“The outlay since December 11 has been large because of payment of taxes and of the work at Sutton which is practically complete.”

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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