"Father" of Andrews

R. M. "Bob" Means

If there is any one man who could be called the "father" of Andrews, that man was Robert Madison "Bob" Means. He, more than any other person, was instrumental in the founding and promotion of Andrews. He remained a staunch supporter until he died in 1972.

Bob Means was born in Grayson County, Texas in 1878. He moved to Andrews County in 1899. He came with his father, J. S. Means, to establish the Means Ranch which was northeast of the town of Andrews. This ranch is operated by Ellison Tom, Sr. and Ellison Tom, Jr. and is still basically as it was in 1899.

During his early years in Andrews, Means worked on the ranch with his father. He used to relate the story about his father, who was an early riser and liked to talk, making the cowboys get up at 3:00 a.m. so they could sit around and drink coffee and talk until daylight before they could go to work. Needless to say, this did not appeal to the cowboys.

In 1902, Bob Means made application to the State to purchase four sections of land just east of Andrews. He was awarded the land at a purchase price of $1.00 per acre. These were the first Public School Lands in Andrews County to be awarded to persons who were known as "4-section settlers."

In order to keep these lands, it was necessary that the purchaser actually occupy them; and, on more than one occasion, a house was built at the junction of the four sections so that technically all four were occupied. Often those who filed on and were awarded the lands did not actually want to live on them, so they went to a good deal of trouble to make the land appear occupied. For that reason, it was common for land owners to carry cans, ashes, trash and other articles out to the lands so that when the state inspectors came by, the land would appear to be occupied. Mr. Means was one of those who often preferred to stay in town, so he made regular trips with his cans and ashes to a little shack he had on the land. On one occasion, he was riding a horse he called "4-sections" out to the shack with a load of ashes when he and the horse were caught in a downpour. The ashes became wet, seeped through the sack and, acting as a lye, peeled all the hair off the horse's side.

R. M. Means established Andrews Abstract Company in 1909. The company is still in operation, making it the oldest business in Andrews County. Means actually began making abstracts on Andrews County lands in 1907 when the county records were kep in Stanton, in Marlin County. He had a small work area in the Marlin County Clerk's office and maintained a small office in the town of Shafter Lake; therefore, it was necessary for him to make regular horseback trips between Shafter Lake and Stanton to do the abstract work. Those original records and abstracts were written in longhand and some of those records are in the Andrews County Clerk's office and the Andrews Abstract Company. In February 1910, when the Legislature passed an act attaching Andrews County to Midland County, Means moved his office to Midland. Later that year, when Andrews was designated the county seat, he moved his office to Andrews. Bob remained active either as manager or owner of the abstract company until 1934 when he and his family moved to Abilene and management of the company was turned over to Carl Sealy.

In 1907 R. M. Means was appointed the first notary public for Andrews County and had the first notary public seal made for Andrews County. During his early years he served as Andrews County Clerk for two terms and, later, held other offices.

On June 28, 1910 Bob Means married Annie Atwood Wilder, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. T. C. Wilder, who had moved from Lufkin to Andrews in 1908. Mr. Wilder was the first postmaster of Andrews. Mr. and Mrs. Means managed the abstract company until 1914 when they moved to Abilene. Two years later then moved to Florida and he worked for American Telephone and Telegraph Company as a right-of-way agent. In 1927 the Means returned to Andrews to run the abstract company. They stayed until 1934.

Mr. Means was instrumental in the establishment of Andrews, rather than Shafter Lake, as the county seat. At that time, Shafter Lake was larger than Andrews. In 1910, when the county was organized, there was a struggle between the citizens of these two towns to determine the county seat location. Andrews County had been attached to Martin County and most of the people in Martin County were in favor of Shafter Lake. During this time, Mr. Means and others were busy trying to develop Andrews and they knew that the location of the county seat was vital to its growth. While the people of Shafter Lake were waiting for the necessary election to be held, Means and others, with the help of Judge Charley Gibbs of Midland County, got the State Legislature to pass an act attaching Andrews County to Midland County whose citizens favored Andrews as the county seat. When the election took place, Andrews won. It is also interesting to note that Bob gave away and sold a number of lots to cowboys on the various ranches so that they would be property owners and, therefore, eligible to vote in the election. The strategy paid off. The courthouse was located in Andrews and Mr. Means donated the block on which the original courthouse was erected.

Bob and Atwood Means had two daughters, Mary Bob Grimes who lives in Abilene and Marjorie Ann Boles who lives in Roswell, New Mexico. His widow, Annie Atwood, resides in Abilene.

Through the years Mr. and Mrs. Means aided the growth of Andrews by donating property to numerous church, civic and fraternal groups. After the discovery of oil on thier land in 1934, they became benefactors of many charitable and church groups, including Texas Christian University, the Salvation Army, the Lions Camp for Cripple Children and many others.

Courtesy Andrews County Heritage Committee, 1978