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Old Mobeetie

The Streets of Old Mobeetie

“I think it was the hardest place I ever saw on the frontier except Cheyenne, Wyoming.” CHARLES GOODNIGHT

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As buffalo hunters migrated to the Texas Panhandle from Kansas, they established a camp in what is now Wheeler County. Dubbed ‘Hidetown’, on the banks of Sweetwater Creek which is the North Fork of the Red River, the town supported the thriving cattle ranches and nearby Fort Elliott, home to the Buffalo Soldiers, with four troops of the 6th US Cavalry and 4 companies of the 5th Infantry.

One of the town’s more notable citizens was Bat Masterson, a successful surveyor who would eventually become a legendary lawman.  In this rough and tumble wild west town, Bat was know as a man of style with a derby hat, red silk bandana, tailor-made pants, and linen shirts from France. A ‘town notch’ on the leather strap of his silver spurs dropped them lower to create a jangle on the floor as he walked.

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The first person buried in the town cemetery was Mollie Brennan, the daughter of the boot repair shop owner (some say prostitute). Her grave marker describes her as a “blue-eyed, black-haired beauty”.  A stranger in town once opened the door for the “Rose of the Canadian” and a loudmouth, whiskey-face corporal, Melvin King, slit the man’s throat. This soldier bragged about being Mollie’s protector, and he often clashed with the dashing Bat Masterson for Mollie’s attention.

On one particular evening, Bat stood to greet Mollie as she glided to his side. Some say it was over a card game, but regardless of the reason, Melvin King drew his pistol, Mollie jumped in front of Bat Masterson taking the bullet in the dead center of her chest before it lodged into Bat’s thigh. Bat returned fire striking Corporal King a fatal blow. The beautiful Mollie was taken home and soon died in her father’s arms. Bat was carted to a friends house for care as there was no doctor in the town.

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Three years after the famous Sweetwater Shootout, application was made for the name Sweetwater City in 1879. It was denied by the postal service. Local legend goes that an early settler asked several Comanche scouts for the word for sweet water. The answer, “Mobeetie” was submitted on the second application and approved. One local story continues that a Comanche later shared the actual translation for mobeetie as being buffalo dung.

By 1879 it became the county seat, with 150 qualified voters.

Throughout the next century, the town thrived as a commercial center and as the closest piece of civilization in the middle of nowhere; the Texas Panhandle. The end of the original town site came in 1929, when the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railroad built their tracks two miles away. Today the stone courthouse remains in Old Mobeetie, where Temple Houston, attorney, State Senator and son of Sam Houston, practiced law and served as district attorney in 1882 before being elected to the Texas State Senate.

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MOBEETIE by Bob Izzard.

Photo credit: N. Bright

Natalie Bright writes for kids and adults. KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook has over 100 recipes, cattle drive history, archival photos, which won a 1st Place Will Rogers Medallion. Along with co-author Denise F. McAllister, the Wild Cow Ranch Series is a western romance Christion fiction series. Book 1 in the series, MAVERICK HEART, was a #1 Amazon New Release. Coming in April 2024 is the history and authentic food of Cowtowns, in END OF TRAIL EATS. Natalie is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, Texas High Plains Writers, and Oklahoma Writers’ Federation.