Evidence exists of ancient people roaming the Panhandle Plains as early as 6000 B.C., and archaeological remains show the presence of the Anasazi people more than a thousand years ago; more recently, the county was home to Apache and Comanche tribes until the mid-1870s; but the modern history of the town of Andrews and Andrews County began in the mid-1800s. Like most towns in this region, Andrews relied on the cattle trade through the end of the 1800s and until oil was discovered in the 1920s. Both industries continue to be important to the area today.
Both county and city are named for the same man, Richard Andrews. He was the first soldier to die in the Texas Revolution. Wounded in Gonzales on October 2, 1835, he died 26 days later at the battle of Concepcion.
According to the Handbook of Texas, 1908 is the year things got started around a nucleus of just a school and a general store. The entire population was less than 100 at that time and few of them lived in the city proper.
Shafter Lake was Andrews rival to become county seat, but Andrews won and Shafter Lake is now a ghost town. Growth was slow and things stayed quiet until oil was discovered in 1929. That year saw oil discoveries all over West Texas but the strikes were modest compared to other counties.
The City of Andrews was incorporated on February 2, 1937 and is the only incorporated municipality in Andrews County. The City of Andrews continues to be a progressive, forward-thinking community and the county seat for Andrews County.
The early years were very busy ones for the city fathers. Decisions and actions were taken that affect the present community government and services.
A good water supply was one of the keys to Andrews' future. In 1957 the city shared costs with the school district and the County of Andrews in employing E. L. Reed, a consulting geologist out of Midland, to do the exploration work for a water supply. The end result of his study was the University of Texas water field located northeast of the city. The city currently has a storage capacity of 5 million gallons of water.
Andrews has emerged from a small ranching center of a few hundred people to an active community with over 10,000 population.
Andrews County was created in 1874 and organized in June 1910. Records show that a post office was established in Bernice, Tom Green County, April 2, 1890, which supplied about 100 people. Bernice was later called Shafter Lake. The early mail route was a distance of 55 miles from Midland to Bernice. Sam L. Mooney was the first postmaster. He reported that the nearest post office was located at Seven Rivers which was 100 miles northwest of Bernice. The first office was discontinued soon after it was opened and was then moved to Midland.
The next post office for Shafter Lake, formerly known as Bernice, was opened on December 14, 1907, with Bert M. Irwin as postmaster. Irwin reported to that Andrews County was not organized and that "Shafter Lake is the only town in the county." Mail was delivered three times a week from Midland.
A petition was made for a post office to be established at Cal, Texas later called Yard. The May 1903 report requesting postal service gave the following information: the office would be on the route between Tennessee Colony and Palestine, the office would be supplied from the Tennessee Colony; and a total of 200 persons would be supplied by the Cal office. The report was signed by Brucy C. Gray, the proposed postmaster, and by M. S. Avant, postmaster at Tennessee Colony, Texas.
Pierre Von Hollebeke became postmaster at Hollebake on August 14, 1903. The location was also known as China Pound, according to the records. There was no village, but the post office was to supply about 75 people.
Other early post offices established in Andrews County were at Ethel, March21, 1908, with Arthur H. Taylor as postmaster, at Ida, March 6, 1908, with Minnie W. Logsdon as postmistress; and at Logsdon (formerly Ida) on June 23, 1908, with Minnie W. Logsdon serving as operator.
The Logsdon's owned a ranch known as the Hip-O-Ranch which was located in the northwest corner of Andrews County about fifteen miles northwest of Shafter Lake.
The mail was brought from Monument, New Mexico, once a week by neighbors who took turns in going for it. The ranch was sold in 1915.
Florey was located on the postal route from Seminole to Midland. In 1908 a petition was made for a post office to supply a population of 125. Lee N. Smith served as first postmaster beginning January 18, 1909. Florey was also known as Smackover. The Humble Camp was established there in 1934 and was abandoned in 1956. Now a grassy, shady county park occupies the Florey location.
Andrews on the postal route between Midland and Seminole had its first post office opened January 20, 1909. Thomas M. White was the operator. Andrews had a population of 100 people. The mail was delivered from Midland by car. The car carried brides and other passengers and anything else that had to be taken to Andrews.
By 1918 a total of 65 miles of new railroad from Midland to Seminole had been completed. The railway ran through the Chicago or "C" Ranch in the eastern part of Andrews County. Florey was located on the railway. Both Fasken and Florey had dreams of becoming larger than Andrews. The railway was bought by the Texas and Pacific Railway Company and operated until 1925 when it was discontinued.
Records of the Post Office Department, Record Group 28, Records of Appointments of Postmasters in Andrews, Crane, Loving, Ward and Winkler Counties, Texas and Site Location Reports Relating to the Same Counties 1883-1949. The National Archives of the United States, 1934. Microfilm - Texas Permian Historical Society Archives, located in the Ector County Library, Texas - Southwest Room.
The post office at Andrews, Texas was established on January 20, 1909 as a Fourth Class post office, with Thomas M. White being the first postmaster. On July 1, 1931, status changed to Third Class, then on July 1, 1946, changed to Second Class, followed by July 1, 1955 changing to First Class. In September 21, 1957, City delivery service was established.
The postmasters serving Andrews, and the dates of service as as follows:
|T. C. Wilder||1908 to 1-1-1909|
|Thomas M. White||1-20-1909 to 4-10-1911|
|Aubrey N. Brown||4-10-1911 to 1-13-1915|
|Edmund L. Haag||1-13-1915 to 8-28-1919|
|Mary Irwin||8-28-1919 to 3-17-1921|
|Roy Wilson||3-17-1921 to 2-18-1926|
|Florence M. Lonis||2-18-1926 to 4-28-1931|
|Edgar W. Burkett||4-28-1931 to 3-16-1944|
|Maggie m. Burkett||5-3-1944 to 6-30-1957|
|Harold Roberts||5-3-1944 to 7-21-1961|
|Douglas Luck||7-21-1961 to 2-17-1973|
|J. C. Eades||11-10-1973 to|
"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 kept 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.
It was October 1875, when Colonel William Rufus Shafter came upon a body of water northwest of the present town of Andrews. He was on an exploring expedition from Fort Concho near San Angelo, Texas. From a volume of the WEST TEXAS HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION yearbook is found Shafter's own account of the discovery of the lake that was later named after him.
He notes that the lake was found while trying to locate a suitable trail between two good watering places he had found previously while on a trail from Five Wells, located about twenty miles northeast of Andrews, to Monument Spring, just over the state line in New Mexico. Shafter's description of the lake and surrounding country says "... it is all heavy sand, except three short stretches, of a couple of miles each, to an alkali lake, distance from Five Well, twenty miles. The lake situated in a depression of the prairie with hard growth all around it, extending several miles on the south and west; water permanent, and, though quite strongly alkaline, can be used from holes dug in the bank. Grass excellent, very luxuriant roots in abundance. The lake is circular in form and one-eighth of a mile in diameter. From this lake to Monument Springs the country is rolling, about one-half hard prairie, the balance light sand." This is the extent of the mention of the lake. It was not known to exist until Shafter stumbled upon it. he found it had been used considerably as an Indian Camp as evidenced by a lot of Tipi holes, but the Indians had fled. There are still evidences of the Indians although most of the relics have been found and removed.
The town or city of Shafter Lake, as it was referred to, did not come into existence until 1906 when it was established. "The City of a Thousand Wonders" was Shafter Lakes as described by the Commercial Club of Shafter Lake. The prologue admits, "the purpose of this booklet is confessedly, the bringing of people to the Shafter Lake country." This was the time of the most growth and probably did much to lure people to Shafter Lake as noted by the population of 87 in 1900 to the number 975 in 1910. The first abstract records report the sale of land in February 21, 1902.
When the town was at its peak between 1909-1910, there were many businesses. It was planned around a square with a place for a courthouse and trees planted around it. The well on the square was drilled about 1906 and the concrete water trough, which remains are still there, was built by John Underwood. There was a grocery store, drug store, bank, hotel, school, church and newspaper.
The newspaper was The Shafter Lake Herald. According to Mrs. Betty Orbeck's notes printed in Odessa in 1972, the record as to the date of establishment could not be stated; but in the minutes of the TEXAS PRESS ASSOCIATION a Mr. John F. Turner represented the Shafter Lake Herald in 1908 and 1909 at their annual meeting. Apparently the publisher was in the printing business as evident from a warranty deed form printed by the Herald Printing Company of Shafter Lake. This instrument was dated November 11, 1908 and filed January 3, 1910 with Midland County. The deed was from J. L. and W. J. Underwood and their wives to W. W. McQuatters and W. E. Whitten. The document in 1960 was in the private possession of W. W. McQuatters of Andrews, son of the granter. The editor of the paper was James Cumby and when he left he moved to Wichita Falls and entered the oil business.
The hotel is on record as having been owned by the Elam family who later moved to Seminole. It was built about 1905 or 1906. It had twelve overnight guest rooms upstairs, and downstairs were guest rooms, the kitchen and the lobby. It had an upper and lower porch.
THE COWBOY STATE BANK was, according to the charter on file with the Department of Banking in Austin, incorporated July 31, 1909. The bank was used for about two years. The post office was housed in it later until a bad storm blew the building away in 1916.
The Irwin family remained prominent in Shafter Lake history as they finally became the only people living there. Hunter Irwin bought the remaining house on the north side of the townsite in 1926. R. W. "Bob" Crowley of Fort Worth had this home built for his son who was a commission cattle buyer. Originally the house had four large rooms with a center hall and a large wooden porch with wooden pillars across the front. The outside of the house is made of cement blocks. The sand and gravel used in making the blocks came from Shafter Lake. The blocks were handmade by brick maker Joe Greene. The high ceilings with large attic and attic windows are the characteristics of the house. This house is a good example of the architecture of the early 1900's used in West Texas. In April 1963, Mrs. K. H. Irwin was presented with the Medallion to designate it as a Texas State Historical Medallion Home.
DID YOU KNOW?
Between 1950 - 1960, Andrews was the fastest growing town in the United States.
Andrews was the first town in the nation to have a complete Mercury Vapor street lighting system; it also boasts of more paved streets of any town its size in the nation.
When the Florey Post Office was first established in 1909, it changed places of operation five times in the first four years. At the time, the post office was located in private homes and moved quite often. It was first located in the home of Lee Smith, then Billy Wilson, next J. B. Gilbert residence then the H. K. Howell home and finally A. J. Florey home. In 1913, the post office moved five miles west on the Midland northwestern Railroad to a store building near the depot and remained there until 1941 when it moved into a store building 10 miles north of Andrews where it still operates as a sub-station.
During the early years of existence, the mail was brought from Shafter Lake by horse and buggy.
During open-range days pioneer ranchers watered and bedded their cattle down at what is now the City Lake in the west part of town... later it was used by teenager as an ideal place to play "cops and robbers" after a story told by the last Uncle Horace Irwin, who personally knew Billy the Kid!
About 1906-07, C. W. Logsdon raised a watermelon on his ranch in the Northwest part of Andrews County, that was sent as part of an exhibit to the State Fair in Dallas. It weighed over 100 pounds and won first prize at the fair.
At one time Andrews had two theaters... the Wallace and Rose Theaters.
Andrews High School had its first baseball team in 1918... team members were Emmitt Price, Henry Price, Lloyd Rhodes, Ralph Umberson, Herbert Barnes and Bennett Barnes.
The Andrews Telephone Company cut-over to the dial system in 1955.
Courtesy Andrews County Heritage Committee, 1978