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Mobeetie, Texas

Courthouse in Mobeetie, Texas

“Mobeetie was patronized by outlaws, thieves, cut-throats, and buffalo hunters, with a large percent of prostitutes. Taking it all, I think it was the hardest place I ever saw on the frontier except Cheyenne, Wyoming.”

— Charles Goodnight

As buffalo hunters swarmed the Texas Panhandle from Kansas, they established a camp on the banks of Sweetwater Creek about two miles southeast of present day Old Mobeetie. Dubbed ‘Hidetown’, an application was soon made for the name Sweetwater City. It was denied by the postal service because the state already had a town by that name.

Local legend goes that an early settler asked an Indian friend, what is a word for sweetwater. The answer, “Mobeetie” was submitted on the second application and approved. The story continues that years later a Comanche shared the real translation for mobeetie —buffalo dung.

By 1879 Mobeetie became the county seat, with 150 qualified voters. The town had a Chinese laundry, a restaurant, and several saloons operating under the names of Buffalo Chip Mint, White Elephant, and one saloon, called the Ring Town Saloon, served only the black Buffalo Soldiers who served at nearby Fort Elliott. Throughout the next century, the town thrived as the only piece of civilization in the middle of nowhere for ranchers and the buffalo soldiers at nearby Fort Elliott, in the Texas Panhandle.

“Court Week” brought people from the large judicial area where sessions of the district court prevailed. At the end of each day’s judicial hearings the festival began with  horse races, roping contests, and riding tournaments. Wife of Mobeetie’s postmaster, Molly Montgomery, recalls, “Look the world over you could not find a happier, more care-free people than gathered for amusement at Old Mobeetie. Though we were a long way from railroads and what is commonly called civilization, we never lacked for amusement, dancing, skating, masquerades, card parties, and last but not least our “Mobeetie Musical and Drama Club.”

The stone courthouse stands today, where Temple Houston, attorney, State Senator, and son of Sam Houston, practiced law and served as district attorney.

The first person buried in the town cemetery was a saloon girl, Molly Brennan. Her grave marker describes her as a “blue-eyed, black-haired beauty”. She jumped in front of Bat Masterson when Corporal Melvin King of Fort Elliott shot at Bat over a card game argument.

The end of the original town site came in 1929, when the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railroad built tracks two miles away.

Old Mobeetie, Texas is North of Interstate Highway I-40 in the heart of the ranching and agriculture areas of the Texas Panhandle. Go north on State Highway 152 in northwestern Wheeler County. 

 

You can visit the original townsite of Mobeetie.

Natalie Bright is the author of the upcoming book, KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook. With over 100 recipes, cattle drive history, archival photos, and her own Texas ranch photography, you can bring a taste of the old West to your kitchen! Available now for preorder at all online bookstores. She is also the author of the Trouble in Texas series for middle grade readers.