Bailey County—As It WasCarolyn Turner, Bailey County Senior Center October 22, 2021 0 COMMENTS
Life is full of surprises. Many stay in your mind a few days and then they are gone. Many force you to learn more about the surprise—even if you are right in the middle of moving from one home to another. Many surprises just haunt your mind and force you to dig deeper, to learn more, and maybe even share with others what you learn from the surprise.
I realized my surprise was a big one. It might not rate up there with such events as the atomic bomb, the 9-11 horror, women marching for suffrage, Elvis rocking the world, or even Dolly, the sheep. But it ranks pretty high on my list.
It all began as I was going through every book in my library, deciding whether to keep, sell, or give away. I came across my surprise—a 64-page booklet that was unfamiliar. Opening it, I found the title, “History of Bailey County”. It was typed on 64 pages of plain 8-1/2 x 11 size typing paper.
In the front of the booklet was the acknowledgement: “I herewith express my appreciation and indebtedness to those who have so courteously and graciously assisted me in securing the data contained in the following history.” It was signed: “Mrs. A.W. Copley, Muleshoe, Texas – February 8, 1940”.
Needless to say, my digging through my hundreds of books came to a stop as I sat down and scanned the many pages of my surprise! But scanning wasn’t enough. I stopped the moving, laid down on the sofa, and read every page Mrs. Copley had written. Her writings of Bailey County began in the year 1836 and went through 1936—100 years of wonderful information that I never knew.
The following is the first two pages of the booklet. Read it and I think you will agree—we all have a lot to learn about our home-town!
“Bailey County, one of the last pioneer units in Texas, is bordered by New Mexico on the west, Parmer on the north, Lamb on the east, and Cochran on the south. Hockley County touches the extreme south-east point. Bailey County, lying on the plateau of the Great Plains, is one of the highest counties in the state, reaching in several places an altitude of four thousand feet or more. It has an area of one thousand thirty square miles, being one of the smallest counties in this section of the state. A larger per centage of the land is rolling plains with shallow valleys, interspersed by narrow strips of sand hills that have been piled up by strong prevailing winds of this section of the state. However, level land and dark soils predominate. The drainage system is formed by draws which form a part of the upper water shed of the Brazos River. The few natural lakes are usually dry, even though situated in the shallow water belt.
The county was part of the Bexar Territory along with more than a hundred other counties from 1836 to 1876. The Texas Constitution of 1876 set apart three million acres of land for the purpose of the erection of a new State Capitol…Later in 1879 Texas made a contract exchanging the three million acres of land, which included Bailey County, for the construction of the present State Capitol.
At this time a scattered and meager population lived only in East and South Texas. This large state had more land than people and there was much truth in the time worn saying that she was land poor. The western part of Texas was known as the Great American Desert and not considered of much value.
After the last conflicts in Texas with the Indians when General McKenzie captured the last of the Comanches in the Palo Duro Canyon and took them to the Indian Reservation across Red River, the history of this country became the history of the cowboys and early settlers. Buffaloes, antelope, deer, coyotes, and jack rabbits roamed these plains.
On August 2, 1876, Bailey County was created, and was named for a hero of the Alamo, Peter James Bailey, 1812-1836, a young Kentucky lawyer, who joined the doomed company in time to give his life, the following day, defending the Alamo.”
This is just the beginning of the growth of Bailey County. Look for my articles each week in this paper to learn more about the history of Bailey County as well as what’s going on at our Senior Center. If you have any information you would like to share about our history, please call Carolyn Turner at 806-315-0730.