History of Hutchinson County, Texas: 104 years, 1876-1980 Page: 55 of 526
population was estimated to be at least 2,500. Some
early residents think it was closer to 3,500. The rush
for home and business sites began on "Dollar Day"
in August, 1926. Rough wooden shacks, and canvas
tents were hurriedly erected.
In 1926 the largest building in town was the townsite
building, which was about fifty feet wide and a
hundred feet long. At one time this building served as
a land office, post office, and courthouse. People
seemed not to notice the crowded conditions.
Abstracts were drawn, marriage licenses issued,
weddings performed, deeds recorded, and mail distributed.
There were only two water wells available to the
inhabitants -the Starnes well and a well near town
belonging to Rex McCormick. When the wells
sanded, as often was the case, water was hauled
from a natural spring on the Tarbox Ranch southwest
of the town.
There were no laws of sanitation or safety
enforced. Garbage and sewage were disposed of as
in pioneer days. Children played in the streets. Livestock
grazed at will. Teams of horses were used to
dig sluice pits at drilling sites, for dray work, and to
transport supplies when the roads became impossible
for motor vehicles. When in not in use, the horses
were turned out to water works.
During cold weather the people suffered a great
deal. The boxcar shacks and canvas structures
afforded insufficient protection. The gas, sour gas,
was supplied by various individuals until 1951, when
the town assumed control of the gas and purchased
sweet gas from the Panhandle Eastern Gas Company.
Vice is always present in a boomtown. Most of the
towns' organized vice rings seem to have made
either Signal Hill or Borger their headquarters. In
spite of prohibition, liquor traffic was heavy. Many
"joints" were established with fronts advertising
them as restaurants, rooming houses, or drug stores.
Legal sale goods would be displayed in the small
front area, but whiskey and beer could be bought in
Lawlessness and violence continued until the crisis
was reached with the murder of District Attorney
John Holmes on September 13,1929.
Perhaps the period of depression and drought of
1929 to 1936 did much to rid the boomtowns of their
lawlessness. The price of crude oil fell, and production
ceased, refineries reduced their working force.
Thousands of people lost their jobs. Vice thrives
where there is prosperity. As swiftly as the population
of Stinnett had grown to 2,500 it was reduced to less
than 500. Businesses were closed. In 1928 there
were over 75 business concerns in Stinnett; by 1930
there were less than 20. Stinnett, the county seat,
was the only town north of the Canadian River to survive
"the Perilous 30s."
From the very beginning, many constructive forces
were at work. The churches school, civic and social
clubs were active even during the most trying days of
the boom period and the depression years.
The Groves' School, Dist. 9 was located about a
mile and a half northwest of the town. Miss Colene
Holland and Miss Jackson had been employed to
teach the 1926-27 term of school. In December
1926, the school was moved to Stinnett. School was
held in what is known as the "Paul Jones House" on
David Street. In 1927, a "flat-topped" house was
built near Eighth and Broadway. Mr. Frank Lemon
was superintendent; Fred Groves, principal and
coach; Miss Hazel Groves, now Mrs. Orin Thompson,
was one of the seven teachers. The school membership
fluctuated from day to day. An average membership
was probably 200 pupils. During this term, Fred
Groves named the athletic teams the "Rattlers." All
of the school funds were exhausted in five months.
The pupils were transferred to Gewhitt for the
remainder of the term.
An attempt in 1927 to vote school bonds for
$200,000 met with failure. Later that year a $75,000
bond election carried. A modern school plant was
constructed in 1928. During the depression years
the pupil membership fell sharply; the staff was
reduced; and salaries were lower.
Stinnett has always had a group of people both
willing and anxious to worship God and to serve
humanity. The Methodist, Baptist, First Christian
Church, Church of Christ, Assembly of God, Catholic,
Nazarine, and Pentecostal churches have established
congregations in the town.
The industrial development of natural gas and
petroleum, which underlie the Stinnett area, has created
a source of employment for many people. From
modest homes in Stinnett, laborers travel over paved
highways to refineries located at Phillips, Borger, and
Bunavista. New production sites are being developed.
Stinnett is no longer a "boomtown." The forces of
lawlessness, greed and brutality have been brought
under control. The city government has been
changed from the mayor commissioner type to the
mayor councilman type. The town owns the waterworks,
the sewer system, the natural gas distribution
lines, the fire department and the ambulance service;
operates all phases of government and utilities
except electrical which is furnished by Southwestern
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Hutchinson County Historical Commission. History of Hutchinson County, Texas: 104 years, 1876-1980, book, 1980; Dallas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth20204/m1/55/ocr/: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Hutchinson County Genealogical Society.