White Deer Land Museum

Merchandising, Water Well Drilling Began In Pampa In 1902

The first mercantile building in Pampa was constructed in 1902 by John F. Johnson of Canadian. The Johnson home in Canadian was an outstanding two story brick home especially noted for Mrs. Johnson’s paintings. Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. H.E. Hoover were sisters and Mrs. J.A. Chambers.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

In 1885 Johnson came from his native Tennessee to Kiowa, Kansas , where he soon entered the general merchandising business. He and his brother-in-law H.E. Hoover, were operating a store in Kiowa at the same time the Southern Kansas R.R. was being constructed across the Texas Panhandle. Johnson followed the railroad by opening stores in Woodward, Indian Territory, and in Higgins, Canadian, Miami and Pampa .

Johnson bought 12 lots on 25 foot frontage (Block 15, Lots 13-24). These were the first lots sold for business purposes in Pampa . The Johnson Mercantile Company store, located at 105 North Cuyler, is said to have housed “everything from lockets to caskets.” Its valuation of $10,000, as recorded in the Gray County Commission Court Records, 1, p. 51, indicated that there was a sizeable amount of merchandise.

Postmaster Thomas H. Lane became district roadmaster for the railroad on April 22, 1902. The post office was moved from his home to the Johnson building and John F. Johnson was appointed postmaster on September 18, 1902. After Johnson declined the appointment, Bruce Waterfield was appointed postmaster on November 22, 1902.

The Johnson building also housed an office of the law. Presumably this was first occupied by T.J. “Tom” Crawford, Jr., the first sheriff of Gray County , Crawford took office on August 3, 1902, 55 days after the county was organized. He was adept with a branding iron as well as with the shooting irons of his trade.

Some of the first dances in Pampa were held at the Johnson building. Later the building housed an undertaking establishment and the First State Bank (First National Bank) when it was first organized. Some of the early denominational churches met in the building before they acquired buildings of their own.

At Christmas time decorated Christmas trees were kept in the Johnson building. Just before Christmas men took turning plows around the streets and laid out fir trees around all the blocks. Then they held services in the schoolhouse.

J.N. Duncan, who came to Pampa in 1906, bought the Johnson Mercantile Company and the name of the building was changed to J.N. Duncan Hardware and Furniture.

The second store in Pampa , also built in 1902, was Harland and Crump at 101 North Cuyler.

In 1902 Charles McCarty, pumper for the railroad, installed the first telephone in Pampa . He ordered one telephone from a mail order house in Chicago but two telephones were received. McCarty installed one telephone in his home and the other at the pump house. He installed the telephones himself, piping the wires underground.

S.S. (Sam) Thomas, a native of Virginia , organized one of the first water well drilling companies in Gray County when he came to Pampa in 1902. He was a city councilman on Pampa ‘s first legislative body and engaged in farming and other business.

On January 17, 1912, Sam Thomas married Eula Duncan, daughter of J.N. Duncan. Their children were Yvonne and Jerry. The family lived at 203 East Browning.

Charles L. Thomas also came to Gray County in 1902 and joined his brother, Sam, in the drilling of water wells for White Deer Lands.

In 1914 he purchased a farm of 1,160 acres seven miles north of Pampa on present SH 70. Six hundred acres were planted in wheat, and he had a good orchard of apples, cherries and peaches.

C.L. Thomas was a president of the Gray County State Bank in Pampa , a director of the Texas Wheat Growers Association and a member of the zone board of Texas and Oklahoma wheat growers.

On April 30, 1911 he married Ouida Talley, daughter of J.W. Talley, one of the early ranchers in Roberts County . Their children were Charles Lee and Dorothea (Mrs. Alfred S. Graham).

Son Charles Lee, who was outstanding in drama and art, initiated the idea of the Nativity Scene with life-sized figures to be set up in Central Park in Pampa during the Christmas season.

On August 21, 1943, Frederick W. Brook and Virginia Line were married at the Pampa Army Air Force Base chapel before it was finished. Captain Maurice Garner performed the ceremony and his daughter, Nancy, played the piano and was the bridesmaid. Nancy and Virginia were former roommates.

Possibly other couples were married at the base before the chapel was completed, but James and Beadie Baird, who married on September 10, 1943, were the first couple to be married in the PAAFB chapel after it was finished.

Marvin Daugherty’s Hoover Mercantile Store was built of rocks and situated closer to the road than the present store.

On July 27, 1946, Joe and Juanita Massengale bought the Green Lake school building ( Roberts County ) and moved it to Hoover to house the store.

Now managed by Tom Lively, the store is owned by a co-op out of Panhandle.

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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