Midland County History 1922
Midland County History Written in 1922
Midland County. Reference has been repeatedly made in these sketches of Texas counties to the remarkable development that followed the construction of the Texas & Pacific Railroad from Fort Worth west to El Paso. In almost every case the counties through which that line passed were the first to begin development on a permanent basis, and the line of railway became the backbone to the economic activities spreading for many miles on each side. Between the town of Big Springs, in Howard County, and the Pecos River, the Texas & Pacific crosses the immense territory formerly comprised within Tom Green County. As elsewhere stated, the breaking up of the original Tom Green County began during the '80s, and it is noteworthy that the first division was made at the western end rather than at the eastern side of the original county. The first of such counties to be detached and separately organized was Midland, created and organized in 1885.
For more than thirty years Midland and surrounding counties have been a center for some of the most extensive cattle operations in the entire state. Midland has for a number of years, and is yet, particularly the home of wealthy cattlemen, and many of the veterans in the industry have at some time or other been identified with the country tributary to Midland City. While the old Texas "longhorn" was the feature of the cattle herds in that vicinity for a number of years, some of the first successful attempts to introduce thoroughbred cattle were made in the Midland country. Not long after Midland County was organized the great Chicago packer, Nelson Morris, bought up and established the great ranch of more than 300 square miles in the district north of Midland City and started the experiment of raising Polled Angus cattle, and at one time had as many as 20,000 head of this strain on his ranch. His stock was sold a few years ago. Midland is the home of the largest registered herd of Hereford cattle in the world, owned by Schaurbauer Brothers, and there are also many Durham cattle. Ever since the coming of the railroad the greater part of Midland County has been occupied by ranches and was gradually enclosed in immense pastures by various corporations and individual cattlemen. During the present century there has been a gradual subdivision and breaking up of these extensive ranches, and farming, especially by the dry farming methods, and more recently with the aid of irrigation, has become a pronounced feature. In 1911 the many experiments hitherto conducted for drawing water from an underground supply to irrigate land came to a climax with the opening of a great well near Midland, which developed a flow of 2,000 gallons per minute. The success of this initial well has stimulated the investment of capital and enterprises in many other localities about Midland City, and irrigation farming is now on a fairly well established basis.
Some facts taken from the last census report give the status of the live stock industry and of agriculture in the county as follows : There were 178 farms, as compared with 73 ten years previously. Of a total area of 567,680 acres, 466,367 acres were occupied as farms. About 16,000 acres were cultivated as "improved land," as compared with 897 acres in 1900; 16,300 cattle were enumerated in the county in 1920, and 1,175 horses and mules. The acreage of the chief crops during 1909 was : Kaffir corn and milo maize, 2,438; cotton, 1,755 ; hay and forage crops, 2,252; and corn, 421. About 3,500 orchard fruit trees were enumerated. In 1890 Midland County had a population of 1,033 ; in 1900, 1,741; in 1910, 3,464 ; and in 1920, 3,000. There are one or two small villages, but the greater proportion of the county's population is concentrated in Midland City, which had 2,192 inhabitants in 1910. Midland City, which got its name from the fact of its location about midway between Fort Worth and El Paso, claims the distinction of being the wealthiest town per capita in the United States, and has a trade territory covering an immense district on all sides. The city has well improved streets, a number of modern business blocks, schools and churches, and is the natural business center for counties both to the north and south.
The assessed values of property in the county in 1903 were $2,009,294; in 1909, $5,882,603 ; in 1913, $5,734,287; and in 1920, $5,891,285. - History of Texas, 1922, by W. Barrett Travis.