Childress County was created in 1876 and was organized in 1887. The city ofChildress and Childress County were named in honor of George Campbell Childress, author of the Texas Declaration of Independence.
Childress County, located in the southeast corner of the TexasPanhandle was, in the early 1870s, occupied almost entirely by four ranches:The Mill Iron,Diamond Tail,Shoe Nail, andOX. Unorganized and attached to Donley County for judicial purposes, there were enough settlers to organize by 1887. There were two communities vying for county seat: Henry and Childress, which was located three miles from the present site. Ultimately Henry was renamed Childress and the three existing businesses in old Childress relocated in the new county seat.
A fire destroyed the courthouse on October 21, 1891, which contained all of the records in the office of the county clerk. Records were re-recorded as land owners submitted their original deeds or secured substitute deeds, though a great number of them were never submitted. Fortunately an abstract plant was in business before the courthouse fire, and records were still available.
The OX Ranch covered 30 square miles or about 19,200 acres which included the present county seat and was owned by A. Forsythe of Missouri and D.D. Swearingen of Ohio who formed the Forsythe Land and Cattle Company. They obtained most of the land from the State of Texas for fifty cents per acre for certification. Following the death of Forsythe in 1899, ownership changed to White and Swearingen.
To prevent farmers from penetrating into the county, Forsythe paid a good price for the land occupied by the farmers and the crops and implements owned by them in order to keep them off the range. His successors, in part, followed the same policy, and for the next 45 years the range belonged to the cattle while farmers had a disheartening time.
In 1883 the OX-operated land was termed "Lariat Land". It was the custom of the ranches to file and gain title for certain sections of the land, but they would only pay a portion of the patent fee, thus insuring themselves against any person occupying the land. This explains why many settlers filed on land near the vicinity of Childress that was called OX Ranch Territory, but legally was not.
Before the Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad Company extended rails through the county the OX cattle were driven to market over the Palo Duro-Dodge City trail to Dodge City, Kansas. Most of the herds contained from 1,000 to 1,500 head as they left for market. Trail drives had almost ended by 1885. Settlers began moving into the area, filing on the land under the land laws of the state, and by obtaining a legal title for the land, did away with the grazing rights established by the OX Ranch.
A special act of the Texas Legislature in 1873 granted charter to the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway which gave the power to construct a line from "some suitable point at or near Fort Worth forming a junction at said point with the Texas and Pacific Railway: Thence in a northwesterly direction, on the most practicable route through the State of Texas, in the direction of Denver City, Colorado, having in view the route best calculated to develop in the mineral region of Northwestern Texas". The mineral region referred to contained coal fields which were located in some of the vicinities through which the road was projected.
A railroad line through the community always gave new life and hope to the citizens. For decades the railroad shops in Childress were some of the largest employers and some, whose hard work built the community, were men of the rails.
Contributed by; Clemi Blackburn from information found in: "The Childress County Story" by Michael G. Ehrle
Baccalaureate Program from Childress High 1956
1st Killing in Childress Co.