Memphis,Hall County, Texas Webpage

This webpage contains the Memphis Texas bulletin board, a detailed history of early day Memphis Texas, and photos and stories of early day Memphis families.


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Memphis Texas Webpage

Welcome to the Memphis Texas webpage. On this site, we're building a detailed history of Memphis and the people that once lived there. We wecome your stories, old area photos and inquiries.

Len Kubiak

Memphis Bulletin Board

Received the following email from Randall Spillers: "Randall Spillers" (

Many years ago ( I think the Spring of 1967) my Father and I made a cross country trip in a 1946 Cessna 120. He bought the two seater in Southern California but we lived in South Florida, the town of Homestead. My Father, a WWII Veteran and a Commercial Pilot flew for Peruvian Airlines. He was based in Miami and flew routes all over South America with many routes from South America taking him all the way to Los Angeles.
In those days the sons and daughters of the flight crew could ride jump seat in the cockpit. The jump seat was basically a flip down bench seat on a hinge mounted on the back of the flight door. Hard on the butt but you could ride for free! So to get to my Dad�s airplane purchase I had to ride the jump seat from Miami to Lima, Peru then Lima to Mexico City�.and finally Mexico City to Los Angeles, Ca.
I tell you this because on our long (and slow trip) back east we made a stop in Memphis, Texas for refueling and lunch. It was a grass landing strip and a very nice day. As we stepped out of our little plane to a deserted airfield with a small garage and fuel tank we spied a rotary dial kitchen style phone mounted on the exterior wall of the garage. There was a note, handwritten and taped to the bottom of the phone that if you need fuel or any help dial this number.
Well dial we did and in about 20 minutes we saw a cloud of dust from an approaching car. For some reason I think it was a Desoto with flaring rear fenders�.here is where my memory is cloudy. The lone older man in the car used his initials as his name and they were BB. He was the local newspaper man and he wrote the column BB Shots. He was the most polite, gentle man I can remember at that time. He scooped us up and took us to town. Besides learning all about us we met the Mayor, Chief of Police and then enjoyed a great meal on the county square. He wrote a column about our visit but I have been unable to locate it.
I always wondered about that nice man. Now in my late fifties with my Father gone I would like to send a note to that man�s family and tell them of the great time I had with their Father in Memphis, Texas.
Best Regards,Randy Spillers

Received the following email from Darla Greene (

Not sure how long it has been since you started your History of Memphis website but I was overjoyed to run across it. I called and talked to Mr. Hughes from Lubbock about the pictures and info you posted on his behalf. I could sure use your help! My husband and I purchased the old Hall County Jail early in 2011 and are in process of obtaining a historical marker for that site. A couple of weeks ago, we purchased an amazing building at 118 South 5th Street on the east side of the courthouse square. It is a great old building which we believe was built around 1925 or so. Two store with beautiful old tin ceiling tile and the second story has nice wood floors which are also in great condition. We have been told that in later years the building was a Western auto store�.probably in the 1950s or 1960s. We are desperate to get some information as to the original use of the building or some courthouse square photos that might show what was in the building. There are one-story buildings on either side of it so I believe it would be easy to pick it out of an old photo. I also believe that Thomas Thornton Harrison owned the land when the construction started. Can you please post this email on your website just in case someone has information about the building? We would also LOVE to have any old photos that show the jail at 5th and Robertson. It would greatly assist us in our effort to get the historical marker. We love Memphis and have a fondness for the property we have purchased there. We want to be good stewards of it and to do our best to restore them to their original state. Thanks so much for any help you can provide. I was great to stumble upon your website. Great job!

Darla Greene (817) 822-0471

Received the following email and photos from Bobby Hughes (

My mother and father (T. T. & Ruth Lewis Hughes) moved to Memphis in 1921 from southern Arkansas. My fathers oldest sister and husband (D. B. (David Buren) Kennedy and wife Linnie, with daughter Aulis) had moved there from Arkansas a couple of years before. Aulis, married Bob Ayers, and he had a used furniture store in Memphis in more recent years.

My father and his brother Odies had a dray service and worked out of the Cisero Smith Lumber yard.

My mother and father had one dauther when they moved to Memphis and then my brother George was born in Memphis. My fathers brother Odies Hughes met the daughter (Lera) of Thomas H. & Katherine Adams Martin, and they married in 1923.

East of Memphis where J. A. Davis and daughter Elberta lived. The car (an early Star) belonged to J. A. Davis. Pictured from the left is Miller Roach and my dad's sister Ora Hughes (she married Miller Roach first and later Frank Ritchie), Odies Hughes and Elberta Davis. This was before Odies married Lera Martin.

Photo of the used furniture store that Thomas H. Martin owned. I think it was on the north side of the square about 1920, because the Martins moved to Lubbock in 1922.

The wife of Thomas Martin was an Adams before she married Thomas Martin. She had a sister,that lived in Memphis, Daisy Adams Walker. Daisy married "Red" (not sure of his first name) Walker and they were the parents of "Chesty" Walker, the coach. They had several children, one being Zadie Belle Walker. She was an officer in WAC's during World War II, and taught school in the Memphis schools for years.

My mother and father moved to Lubbock in 1926. I didn't get here until 1928.

Bobby Hughes, 4925 75th St. Lubbock, TX (806) 438-8708

Received the following email from William Durham" (

My mother was born and raised in Memphis and Plaska. She wrote the attached document for the Lubbock Alvalance and we thought this would be a good article to put on your web page. Our mother is 93 years old and still has some nieces and nephews living in Memphis. Her maiden name is Spry.

WIlliam Durham

I was born in 1918 at Plaska, Texas in Hall County and grew up on the farm, during the depression. I remember the only thing we lacked was money. We grew our own vegetables, raised cows for milk and beef, pigs for sausage and ham, and chickens for Mother to fry and bake. All we had to buy was flour, sugar and coffee.

Growing up on the farm, I was not a great society girl. I didn�t enjoy playing, like my friends did. I always did things older people did. For instance, I was a homemaker from the beginning. I liked to do what Mother was doing; and as she was an excellent seamstress, I learned to sew and �I loved it�! For a while all she would allow me to do was hem dishtowels. I would not know how to guess how many dishtowels I hemmed, but I wasn�t satisfied. I wanted to sew! I wanted to make a dress! Even though I had not started school yet, I was less that six years old mind you, I knew I could sew if just given the chance. I wanted to make a dress so I was constantly begging my mother.

One of my older sisters was a little large-not obese, but certainly not slender. She had a habit of getting her dresses to small. She had a purple and white cotton material dress which was too small to fit well across the bust. Before the dress was ever washed, probably the first time she wore it, she burst out both sleeves under the arm seams.

Mother cut a pattern, she never had to buy one. She would look at a picture of a dress or what ever she intended to make; so she cut a pattern, handed it to me and said �now make that dress you have been wanting to make�.

I cut my dress from that big purple and white dress that my sister has ripped, sat down at the sewing machine, which by the way was one that had a pedal, from which it got it�s power from, and a cord that operated the dials and needle. So there I sat, so proud that I was finally making a dress, and started sewing. I do not remember exactly how long it took me to make my dress, but I do remember I did it all in one afternoon.

I was, as I said before, so proud of myself. When I finished, I had a cute little purple and white dress with the neck, bottom of the sleeves and the seam around the waist bound with black bias tape. To this very day, I still remember that dress in my mind, and I think of it often.

I have five children, three boys and two girls and I made most of their clothes when they were small; even their coats and the boys little suits. I still make a few things, but not many.

I�m ninety two years old, and still active. People remark about how much I can do at that age. I don�t consider age. I just tell myself �I can do it� and I do. I was born in Texas, but have lived in California and Missouri, and am now back in Texas, my home.

Ima Ruth Spry Durham
4601 52nd St Apt 6D
Lubbock Tx 79414

Received the following email from Dr. J. David Adcock (

My parents grew up in Memphis, TX in the 1920s-1930s. I have their high school annuals (GO CYCLONES!!!), and some other photos, and I would be glad to scan in some of the pages and images to send to you. My dad (1916-2003) played in the first football game that was ever played in the current Memphis Stadium (and the first football game that he had ever seen.) His coach was "Chesty" Walker. My mom lived just east of downtown on 6th St., and her dad (Sim Seago) owned a cotton gin and gas station near the present-day highway (the gin is long gone.)

I have a VERY funny story about my parents. There was a dance at the Memphis Country Club (the one that still exists) that my Dad attended (he was 21 at the time). My mom was playing the piano for the dance (Her parents were VERY METHODIST: NO DANCING, YOUNG LADY!)

My dad started talking to her during a break, and finally asked, "By the way, how old are you?" She replied, "Well, I'll Soon Be 17..." - "Soon" meaning "IN THREE YEARS!" SHE WAS 14 YEARS OLD. He went to work for my mom's dad at the gas station, and later her family had a 22nd birthday party for him. When her mother asked how many candles the cake should have, THE JIG WAS UP! But her daddy just laughed: 7 years was the same difference between his age and my mom's mother's age!

Dr. J. David Adcock
Lone Star Biotechnologies, Inc.

Anyone Have pictures or info on the old Memphis Theatre?

The following email was sent to us by Gloria Roberts Meitzen:

I am told that my father, Willis Edgar Roberts either managed or owned a movie theater in Memphis Texas, particularly in the mid 1920's. My half brother Edgar Marion Roberts "began" his piano career there at the age of three or so. His aunt must have been the pianist for the movies. My brother went on to a very important career in piano, winning the first Dealy award in Dallas, ten years before Van Cliburn also won that award. Edgar taught piano at Juliard until his death in 2001 and played concerts all over the world, both singly and with his wife Adelaide Roberts who continues to teach at Juliard and NYU.

Do you have any information on the theater, a picture, history, etc.? Thanks for any information available.

Gloria Roberts Meitzen
5307 26th
Lubbock, Texas 79407


Many thanks to Linda Wehmeyer of Meridian Texas "lindawehmeyer" who donated two old Memphis School annuals for use in building out this site. Over the coming weeks, I'll be adding information from these old annuals to the website for all to enjoy.

This is a site under construction. We'll be adding old photos and stories of early-day settlers in the Memphis Texas area. If you have something you'd like to add to the site, send me an email.


By Leonard Kubiak


For thousands of years, the region that was to become known as Memphis and Hall County was home to a variety of Indian tribes that made their villages along the area lakes.

Artifacts identified as belonging to the Paleo-Indian (12,000-6,000 B.C.) and Archaic (6,000-200 B.C.) cultures have been found in the area, indicating it was occupied for more than 12,000 years.

When the first Europeans arrived in the region in the 1500's, the area in and around Hall County was home to a sizeable Apache Indian population. However, by the late 1700's, Comanches (Southern Shashones) and Kiowas rode by horesback into into the area, hunting buffalo and raiding the Apache Indian villages sucessfully driving out the Apaches. Up until the early 1800's, large buffalo herds grazed the open areas of what became Muleshoe and Bailey County.


President Mirabeau B. Lamar, who took office as President of the Republic of Texas at the end of 1838, had a very hostile attitude towards Indians than did Sam Houston. Lamar believed that the Indians had no integrity; thus, there was no possibility of peaceful negotiation or co-existence. The only solution to the violent clashes between whites and Indians was to rid Texas of the Indians--permanently.

Lamar sent a commission including David G. Burnet, Thomas J. Rusk, and Albert Sidney Johnston, to negotiate the removal of the tribe to the Arkansas territory. He also deployed about 900 army regulars, volunteers, and militia to East Texas.

President Lamar, Commander and Chief of the Texas Army Regulars responsible for Driving Most Indians out of Texas.

On July 15, 1839, several hundred warriors under Chief Bowl engaged the Texans near present-day Tyler. In the initial battle, the Indians were defeated, losing eighteen men to the Texans' three. The next day, the Texans pursued the retreating Indians and inflicted more than 100 casualties, Chief Bowl among them. They also burned the Indian villages and chased the Indians across the Red River into neighboring Indian Territory (Oklahoma). In the aftermath of the Cherokee battles, many of the weaker or more peaceful tribes Texas were also forced to relocate.

By 1841, East Texas was almost entirely cleared of Indians. The Alabamas and Coushattas were exceptions. They were regarded as a peaceful tribe who had aided Texans during the Runaway Scrape (after the fall of the Alamo and Santa Anna's army was searching for Sam Houston's army). The Alabamas and Coushattas were granted two leagues of land along the Trinity River.


However, the western part of the Texas Republic was a different matter. The Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache nations refused to be driven out of Texas and continued fighting the Texas army and Rangers until their defeat in the early 1870's.


The second battle of Adobe Walls (near Amarillo) took place on June 27, 1874, when a buffalo hunters' camp, built in the spring of that year in what is now Hutchinson County, about a mile from the adobe ruins known as Adobe Walls was attacked by a party of about 700 Plains Indians, mostly Cheyennes, Comanches, and Kiowas, under the leadership of Quanah Parker and Isa-tai.

Most of the hunters at the camp were awake repairing a broken ridgepole when the Indians charged at dawn. The defenders, twenty-eight men and one woman, gathered in (Jim) Hanrahan's Saloon, (Charlie) Myers and Leonard's Store, and (Charles) Rath and Wright's Store and repelled the initial charge with a loss of only two men.

Hunters in the vicinity were notified of the attack on Adobe Walls, and by the end of the fifth day there were more than 100 men at Adobe Walls. A rescue party arrived after the Indians had given up the fight and retired. The significance of this fight is that it led to the Red River War of 1874-75, which resulted in the final relocation of the Southern Plains Indians to reservations in what is now Oklahoma.


In response to the attack at Adobe Springs, Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie led the 4th United States Cavalry from the south in an attempt to trap the Indians where they were camped. This campaign beginning with the second battle of Adobe Springs and ending with the battle of Palo Duro Canyon was known as the Red River War. Mackenzie's troops pursued several small Comanche bands into Tule Canyon and defeated them. Mackenzie then reached the edge of Palo Duro Canyon on September 28, 1874, guided by the Tonkawa chief Johnson.

Mackenzie's soldiers and scouts destroyed Red Warbonnet's village causing many Indians to flee the canyon for the open plains. Some of the warriors fought back, sniping at the soldiers, but their resistance was insufficient, and by nightfall Mackenzie's soldiers and Tonkawa scouts had captured the Indians' villages and most of their possessions.

The Indian losses at Palo Duro Canyon amounted to three warriors dead. One white was killed. Mackenzie's troops also captured more than 1,400 Indian ponies. Of these, forty were given to Johnson and another 300 to the other scouts. The remaining ponies were shot by the soldiers.

Most of the Indians' supplies, including their entire winter food supply, was also destroyed. Though the loss of life on both sides was remarkably small, the battle of Palo Duro Canyon is significant because it represented the southern Plains Indians' last effort at military resistance against the encroaching whites. Their tribal government of the Comanches today operates near Lawton, Oklahoma.


The territory that eventually became Memphis in Hall County was originally a part of Bexar Territory from 1836-1876.


Hall County, located in the southeastern Panhandle east of the High Plains, is bordered on the west by Briscoe County, on the south by Motley and Cottle counties, on the east by Childress County, and on the north by Donley and Collingsworth counties.

Hall County was named for Warren D. C. Hall, Republic of Texas secretary of war. The center point of the county is at 34�30' north latitude and 100�40' west longitude. Memphis, the county seat, is on U.S. Highway 287 about ninety miles southeast of Amarillo.

Hall county comprises 885 square miles of rolling plains and broken terrain crossed by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River, the Little Red River, and numerous lesser tributaries. The red and black sandy loam soils support a variety of native grasses in the rougher areas, and cotton, wheat, and grain sorghum crops in the tillable areas.

The Prairie Dog Town Fork flows eastward across the central part of Hall county. The Little Red River joins it near the center of the county. The North Pease River briefly meanders into the southern part of the county, where the Wind River, Cottonwood Creek, T-Bar Canyon Creek, and Running Water Creek flow into it. Mulberry Creek begins in Donley County and joins the Prairie Dog Town Fork in the western part of Hall County. Mountain Creek, Rustlers Creek, and North Baylor Creek form in eastern Hall County and flow into the Prairie Dog Town Fork in Childress County.

An Apachean people occupied the Panhandle-Plains area in prehistoric times; in historic times the modern Apaches were pushed out of the region around 1700 by the Comanches, who subsequently ruled the Panhandle-Plains, including Hall County, until they were defeated in the Red River War of 1873-74 and removed to Indian Territory in 1875-76.

In 1876 the Texas legislature formed Hall County from land formerly assigned to Bexar and Young Counties. With the Comanches removed from the scene, buffalo hunters moved across the plains, and between 1877 and 1882 the buffalo in Hall County were exterminated. The Rath Trail, which ran from Fort Griffin to Adobe Walls, Texas, and then to Dodge City, Kansas, extended through Hall County and was used by buffalo hunters until they left the area, after which it led ranchers and their cattle in.

A number of major ranching operations moved into the area during the late 1870s and the 1880s. In 1876 Charles Goodnight and John Adairq established the huge JA Ranch, which was headquartered in Armstrong County and spilled over into several surrounding counties, including Hall. The western part of the county, north of the Red River, was considered to be a part of the main JA Ranch into the early twentieth century. In 1878 Leigh R. Dyer established the Lazy F Ranch in eastern Briscoe and western Hall counties. Charles Goodnight had taken this range by 1879; by 1882 it operated as the Quitaque Ranch of the JA. The Diamond Tail Ranch of William R. Curtis also appeared in 1879, spread over northeast Hall County, and extended into Donley, Childress, and Collingsworth counties.

In 1880, Thomas S. Bugbee and L. G. Coleman established the Shoe Bar Ranch to the east of the JA holdings in western Hall County; their ranch, operated informally for over a decade, became the Shoe Bar officially in 1891. In 1885 Orville H. Nelson started a small (twenty-section) ranch called the Bar 96 and began raising only blooded Herefords.

The Continental Land and Cattle Company brought its Mill Iron Ranch to Hall County in 1888. This huge operation covered all of southern Hall County (east of the Quitaque Ranch) as well as large parts of Childress, Motley, Collingsworth, and Cottle counties. By 1890, seventy-nine ranches and farms had been established in the county and the population had increased to 703. Almost no crops were grown in the county at this time; the agricultural census for that year reported only seventeen acres planted with corn, the county's most important crop.

The large and powerful ranches eventually disappeared, however, as they were parceled out to land-hungry settlers who wanted the land for farms and stock farms. Many of these new arrivals came because of an important new railroad connection. The Fort Worth and Denver City Railway reached Hall County in 1887, and by March 1888 met the Denver, Texas and Gulf, which had been building southward from Denver to Texline. Thus, by the late 1880s Hall County found itself on a major regional railroad that eventually changed Hall County from a ranching to a farming area.


Memphis Texas, located in the northeastern part of Hall County, had its beginning in 1889, when J. C. Montgomery purchased land for a townsite north of Salisbury on the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway. This land had been previously owned by W. H. Robertson, who had a dugout near Parker Creek. Montgomery and Robertson, with Rev. J. W. Brice and T. J. Woods, Jr., of Dallas, formed a townsite company and presented a plat early in January 1890. P. M. Kelly opened a law office.

A rooming house (later the Memphis Hotel), a general store, a drugstore, and several residences were soon erected. For a time the new town was without a name. Several suggestions were submitted to federal postal authorities but with negative results. Finally, as the story goes, Reverend Brice, while in Austin, happened to see a letter addressed by accident to Memphis, Texas, rather than Tennessee, with the notation "no such town in Texas." The name was submitted and accepted, and a post office was established on September 12, 1890, with Robertson as postmaster.


In a hotly contested election on June 17, Salisbury, Lakeview and Memphis Texas battled it out for the honor of being named Hall county seat. Memphis won the election and was named county seat on June 23, 1890. Salisbury vanished by 1893 and Lakeview remained a small trade center while Memphis prospered.

Hall County Courthouse on the Square in Memphis Texas

In the election for county seat, Memphis Texas won with a total of eighty-four votes. County officers were elected in June, and a school district was formed a short time later. Since Memphis was without a depot and trains did not stop there, certain citizens sought to remedy that situation by smearing the tracks with lye soap. A subsequent agreement was struck between town promoters and railroad officials. In 1891 a depot was built, and businesses were moved on wheels from Salisbury to the new county seat, where a courthouse of homemade bricks was constructed in 1892.


In the 1890's, Memphis Texas entered a boom period in it's ranching dominated environment. It soon had two saloons, a bank, numerous stores, blacksmith shops, and livery stables and served as a trading center for area ranchers and farmers. The Missionary Baptist Church was organized in Memphis; its minister Rev. J. L. Pyle began Baptist congregations throughout the county.

In 1890, the Methodist Church was established in Memphis.

Telephone service came to memphis in 1901.


In June 1906 memphis Texas was incorporated with a mayor-council form of city government. The Memphis Cotton Oil Mill was established in 1907. Memphis had at one time or another several newspapers, including the Hall County Record (1889-93), the Hall County Herald (1890-1928), the Memphis Journal (1892-94), the Memphis Times (1896), the Memphis Leader (1897-99), the Hall County News (1897-1903), and the Memphis News (1928-29). The only newspaper extant in 1986, the Memphis Democrat, was launched in 1908 and went through a succession of owners.

By the 1920s Memphis Texas had a new brick-and-stone courthouse, modern utilities, a cotton compress, three hotels, brick school buildings, and a Carnegie Library. In 1922 the city's Morning Side addition was founded east of the tracks as a residential area for blacks who labored in the cotton fields and mills. In 1935 E. M. Ewen and his wife formed the Hall County Old Settlers' Reunion (later the Hall County Picnic Association). Four years later they staged a rodeo as part of the annual two-day celebration.

The following photos of the early Memphis schools taken from two early-day Memphis annuals provided curtesy of Linda Wehmeyer of Meridian Texas.

Memphis School Facilty for School Year 1926

Memphis Football Team leaders, class of 1926. This really points out how much football uniforms have changed over the past 75 years. Also, don't see a lot of fat on these hardworking farm boys!

Coach Bolton, Memphis Texas Football coach credited with creating the Cyclone! His team of Fighting Cyclones were taught good sportsmanship and the fine art of football by one of the finest coaches in the land.

Memphis Football Team, District Champions in 1926!

Memphis Class of 1926; L-R, Best all around boy, best all around girl.

Since the Great Depression era Memphis Texas has continued as a farm supply center. Some of the prominent farming families in the 1930's was the Earl Richards family. Daughter, Rosemary Richards was born in Memphis in 1942 and attended Memphis Elementary schools in the late 40's and early 50's. Earl Richard's wife, Opal Richards was a member of another Memphis farming family, the Wills family. Various members of the Wills family (related to famous singer, Bob Wills) farmed the red clay soils of Memphis for many decades and decendents still farm the land today.

Memphis Texas is located southeast of Amarillo between Clarendon and Childress along US 287 near the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River. Memphis has a cotton compress, gins, a grain elevator, two banks, eight churches, four public schools, a modern medical complex, two motels, and several mercantile storeswith a population of approximately 2,465.

Memphis Methodist Church Established in 1890.


Three miles southeast of Memphis in northeastern Hall County, a community developed known as Twin Buttes. John M. Gist, a wealthy businessman, purchased land in the vicinity and built a few houses and a store, a gin, a blacksmith shop, and a church at the foot of the hills. A one-room frame schoolhouse was built in 1905 was later replaced by a four-room brick structure.


In 1906 a post office was established in the Twin Buttes community and named Eli, in honor of Eli Melton Dennis, an early community leader. After fires and tornadoes destroyed some of the settlement's houses, it was rebuilt in the valley near the schoolhouse, which was west of the original Twin Buttes site.


The Eli post office was closed in December of 1914, and then restored under the name of Elite in November 1915 with Robert M. Craig as postmaster. This post office was closed in August 1919, and mail was delivered from the Memphis post office.

In 1926 a Farmers' Union gin and two stores were built in the Eli community. Although the name of the area reverted to Eli after 1919, a railroad station erected on the Fort Worth and Denver tracks southeast of Memphis near Twin Buttes was for many years labeled Elite. In the 1940s, the community of Twin Buttes/Eli/Elite was abandoned, and only farms remain in the area.


This is a site under construction. We'll be adding old photos and stories of early-day settlers in the Muleshoe area.

Got any old Memphis area photos, stories or family biographies you want to share? Send me an email!

For questions or comments, send me an Email at

Also see our history links near the bottom of the main Fort tumbleweed webpage. I spend a great deal of time researching Texas history and adding topics of interest to our website for our internet viewers.
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