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SW of Amarillo
AYR, TEXAS. In January 1890 the Fort Worth and Denver City
Railway sent fifteen surveyors to survey a potential spur. The FW &
D was in competetion with the Santa Fe Railroad and the mission (to create
a shipping point for area ranches from Roswell, New Mexico to Big Spring)
was a secret one.
Five miles from the center of the county a townsite was platted and
named for the Scottish city of Ayr. Early the next spring, land buyers
came to the region and settlement was begun. A store was built and a post
office opened. Success looked assured - except for the rival town of Grenada.
This town, which later changed its name to La Plata, was under the direct
control of the XIT Ranch.
The all-too-familiar battle for county seat status began. It looked
so serious that Texas Rangers were stationed at Ayr as a precaution. In
October of 1890, La Plata won the election. The count was 97-7. There
were allegations of fraud, but the vote stood. The spur project was abandoned
and the post office was discontinued.
Ayr's brief life-span was a mere five years.
AYR, TEXAS. Ayr, in Deaf Smith County, was established in January
1890 when the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway sent a party of fifteen
surveyors under Robert E. Montgomery and H. H. Granger to survey a projected
spur from Washburn southwest through the center of the county. The purpose
of the spur was to transport to northern markets the cattle of the ranching
region between Roswell, New Mexico, and Big Spring. Since the railroad
hoped to take away cattle shipments from the rival Southern Kansas (Santa
Fe) line, details of the expedition were kept as secret as possible. On
January 26 the surveyors had chosen a place five miles from the center
of the county and laid out a townsite, which they named for the city of
Ayr in Scotland (although Montgomery reportedly called it "Air"
because of the wind). The surveying crew wintered at the site, and by
early spring settlers began to come in and file on sections of land for
three dollars an acre at 5 percent interest. A few houses were built,
and the town grew rapidly as several families settled in the vicinity.
By May, W. D. Dulaney had established a general store, and a post office
had been granted with James M. Campbell, an elderly Scotsman, as postmaster.
The XIT Ranch, however, had developed a rival town called Grenada
(later La Plata), which vied with Ayr to be county seat. During the heated
controversy that ensued, Texas Rangers were stationed at Ayr to prevent
trouble. On October 3, 1890, La Plata won the election by ninety-seven
to seven votes. Despite rumors that certain XIT cowboys had voted twice,
the election was declared valid. Consequently, the projected railroad
was never built. By 1895 the post office was discontinued and the townsite
of Ayr was abandoned.
KELSO, TEXAS. Kelso, in west central Deaf Smith
County, was a hoax set up by George G. Wright, a Kansas City land promoter,
as a means of selling land in the early 1900s. The land was from the 80,000-acre
Kelso Block of the XIT Ranch land, twenty-five miles northwest of Hereford.
There Wright built a stage-set town, complete with a hotel, a general store,
and a schoolhouse, that was never occupied except when carloads of tenderfeet
were brought out from Hereford in the real estate men's Winton automobiles
and given the illusion that the area was well populated. The hotel was occupied
solely by these prospective newcomers, the school was never actually used,
and customers were seen at the store loading merchandise they had purchased
when buyers were around, only to return the goods to the shelves when they
had left. There was also a large red barn filled with ears of corn shipped
in from Iowa. For a brief time (190708) Kelso had a post office. Often
Wright and his associates sold land at prices from $8 to $40 an acre after
misrepresenting its quality and value, distance from a town, and stage of
development. No one from the immediate area was permitted to ride the specials
from Kansas City, nor did anyone on the trains and Winton cars have a chance
to mingle with the local people. Many purchasers, dryland farmers, realized
too late that the town was a fake and that deep-well irrigation was necessary
to raise crops of kafir corn, millet, and wheat in this semiarid environment.
Isolation and the lack of a church in the area discouraged some of them.
By late 1907 the entire Kelso tract had been sold as farming acreage. After
proposed railroad schemes fell through, the "town" of Kelso soon
LA PLATA, TEXAS. La Plata, originally named Grenada,
was founded in 1890 by the XIT Ranch interests when Deaf Smith County was
organized. The town engaged in a heated contest with neighboring Ayr to
be the county seat, an honor that Grenada won in a controversial election
on October 3, 1890. Soon afterwards the newly elected county judge, J. R.
Dean, changed the name of Grenada to La Plata on request of federal postal
officials. A small frame courthouse was built of lumber hauled from Amarillo.
As the town grew, it added a post office, a school, a county jail, a Presbyterian
church, and eighteen residents. Businesses included a general store, a pharmacy,
a saloon, a hotel, an implement house, a blacksmith shop, a livery stable,
and a printing office which housed the county's first newspaper, the La
The weather hindered the town's development almost from the beginning.
From 1891 to 1894 the area around La Plata suffered a drought, which made
farming and ranching almost impossible. Also disaster struck in February
1897, when a blizzard resulted in below-freezing temperatures for twenty-one
consecutive days. More than half of the town's populace was compelled
to leave. Moreover, in 1899 the Pecos and Northern Texas Railway built
through the southern part of Deaf Smith County and into New Mexico. On
November 8 of that year the citizens of La Plata chose a new county seat,
the new town of Blue Water (or Bluewater, now Hereford), on the railroad.
Nine houses, the courthouse, and the jail were loaded onto wagons and
moved to the new location. Today nothing remains of the abandoned townsite
except a few graves in the cemetery on land that has been reclaimed for
farming. One memento of La Plata's brief life is the original portable
jail, now on display at the Deaf Smith County Museum in Hereford.
WYCHE, TEXAS. Wyche was in southeastern Deaf Smith
County. It was named for John S. Wyche, who moved to the county in 1895
and built the first school on his land four years later. At one time the
community was called Alayone. Part of it was known as Boiling Spring because
of a spring that was a continuous source of running water until the 1950s,
when deep-well irrigation lowered the water table. The Wyche school, which
also served as a church and community center, remained active until 1937,
when its district was consolidated with that of Hereford. Since then the
community has gradually been absorbed by the county seat's expansion.