Jeff Davis County, Texas

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Jeff Davis County, Texas
Jeff Davis County Courthouse in Fort Davis
Map of Texas highlighting Jeff Davis County
Location in the state of Texas
Map of the United States highlighting Texas
Texas's location in the U.S.
Founded 1887
Named for Jefferson Davis
Seat Fort Davis
Largest community Fort Davis
 • Total 2,265 sq mi (5,866 km2)
 • Land 2,265 sq mi (5,866 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0 km2), 0%
 • (2010) 2,342
 • Density 0.97/sq mi (0/km²)
Congressional district 23rd
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Jeff Davis County is a county in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 2,342.[1] Its county seat is Fort Davis.[2] The county is named for Jefferson Davis, the 23rd United States Secretary of War and President of the Confederate States of America.[3] It is one of the nine counties that comprise the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas.

The county contains the 270,000-acre (1,100 km2) Texas Davis Mountains American Viticultural Area, though only about 50 acres (0.2 km2) is currently under vine. The McDonald Observatory is located near Fort Davis, and is owned by the University of Texas at Austin.


Native Americans[edit]

Prehistoric peoples camped at Phantom Lake Spring, in northeastern Jeff Davis County, and may have used the springs for irrigation.[4] Indian pictographs in The Painted Comanche Camp of Limpia Canyon were discovered by the Whiting and Smith Expedition of 1849.[5]

In August 1861, Mescalero Apaches under Chief Nicolas made an attack on Fort Davis, driving off livestock and killing three people. In the ensuing chase by the cavalry, Nicolas ambushed the soldiers, killing them all.[6] September 1868 at Horsehead Hills, a group of volunteer Mexicans and Buffalo Soldiers from Fort Davis attacked and destroyed a Mescalero village to recover captives and stolen livestock. January 1870, a group of soldiers attacked a Mescalero Apache village near Delaware Creek in the Guadalupe Mountains. July 1880 soldiers at Tinaja de las Palmas attacked a group of Mescaleros led by Chief Victorio. August 1880, Buffalo Soldiers ambushed Victorio at Rattlesnake Springs. Victorio retreated to Mexico and was killed in October by Mexican soldiers. The last Indian depredation in the area was at Barry Scobee Mountain in 1881.[7]

Early Days[edit]

In March 1849 lieutenants William H. C. Whiting and William F. Smith were sent out by Maj. Gen. William J. Worth of the Texas 8th Military Department to look for a route from San Antonio to El Paso del Norte. A second party, led by Dr. John S. Ford and financed by a group of Austin merchants, pioneered a trail that ran north of the Davis Mountains before turning southward toward El Paso. June 1849 Lt. Col. Joseph E. Johnston, attached to Bvt. Maj. Jefferson Van Horne’s battalion, was sent for additional surveying. At El Paso, Horne established Fort Bliss. Texas Ranger Big Foot Wallace escorted the San Antonio-El Paso Mail coach through the mountains.[8] Fort Davis was established in 1854.The land was leased from Surveyor John James at $300 a year. The fort was surrendered to the Confederacy in 1861, and abandoned in 1862 after Confederate defeat at Glorieta Pass, New Mexico, but was re-occupied by Federal troops July 1, 1867.[9][10]

County establishment and growth[edit]

The legislature established Jeff Davis County on March 15, 1887. Fort Davis was named county seat.[10] Cattle ranchers began operating in the county in the 1880s. The towns of Valentine[11] and Chispa[12] became supply centers for the ranchers and later railroad stops.

Fort Davis has always been the county's largest town. By 1970, Madera Springs was known as the smallest town in Texas.[13] Davis Mountains State Park opened to the public in the 1930s.[14]Fort Davis National Historic Site was established in 1961. The Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute arboretum was established in 1974.[15][16]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,265 square miles (5,870 km2), virtually all of which is land.[17] The county is home to the Davis Mountains, the highest mountain range located entirely within the state of Texas.

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties and municipios[edit]

The west corner of Jeff Davis County is located on the bank of the Rio Grande. Thus Jeff Davis County is separated from municipio Guadalupe, Chihuahua, Mexico by the minuscule Presidio County/Hudspeth County boundary that extends from the riverbank to the middle of the river. The north corner of Jeff Davis County is San Martine Spring, which is also common to Culberson and Reeves counties.

Protected areas[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 1,394
1900 1,150 −17.5%
1910 1,678 45.9%
1920 1,445 −13.9%
1930 1,800 24.6%
1940 2,375 31.9%
1950 2,090 −12.0%
1960 1,582 −24.3%
1970 1,527 −3.5%
1980 1,647 7.9%
1990 1,946 18.2%
2000 2,207 13.4%
2010 2,342 6.1%
Est. 2013 2,253 −3.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[18]
2012 Estimate[1]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 2,342 people residing in the county. 90.2% were White, 1.0% Black or African American, 0.6% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 5.8% of some other race and 2.0% of two or more races. 33.7% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).

As of the census[20] of 2000, there were 2,207 people, 896 households, and 632 families residing in the county. The population density was less than 1/km² (1/sq mi). There were 1,420 housing units at an average density of less than 1/km² (1/sq mi). The racial makeup of the county was 90.53% White, 0.91% Black or African American, 0.32% Native American, 0.09% Asian, 5.17% from other races, and 2.99% from two or more races. 35.48% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 896 households out of which 27.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.80% were married couples living together, 6.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.40% were non-families. 26.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the county, the population was spread out with 24.40% under the age of 18, 5.30% from 18 to 24, 24.10% from 25 to 44, 30.00% from 45 to 64, and 16.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 104.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $32,212, and the median income for a family was $39,083. Males had a median income of $27,011 versus $21,384 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,846. About 14.10% of families and 15.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.10% of those under age 18 and 19.60% of those age 65 or over.


Western Jeff Davis County is served by the Valentine Independent School District, while central and eastern Jeff Davis County is served by the Fort Davis Independent School District.

Popular culture[edit]

The Mountain Goats recorded a song called Jeff Davis County Blues on the 2002 album All Hail West Texas.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 18, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 168. 
  4. ^ Brune, Gunnar. "Phantom Lake Spring". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  5. ^ "The Painted Comanche Camp". Texas Beyond History. UT-Texas. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "Indian War Engagements Involving Troops from Fort Davis". National Park Service. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  7. ^ Leckie, William H and Shirley A (2007). "The Victorio War". The Buffalo Soldiers: A Narrative of the Black Cavalry in the West. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 211–233. ISBN 978-0-8061-3840-4. 
  8. ^ Kohout, Martin Donell. "Jeff Davis County, Texas". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  9. ^ "Founding of Fort Davis". National Park Service. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "Fort Davis, Texas". Texas Escapes. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  11. ^ "Valentine, Texas". Texas Escapes. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  12. ^ "Chispa, Texas". Texas Escapes. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  13. ^ Flynn, Buddy. "Madera Springs, Texas". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  14. ^ "Davis Mountains State Park". Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  15. ^ Bartlett, Dick (1995). Saving the Best of Texas: A Partnership Approach to Conservation. University of Texas Press. pp. 168–169. ISBN 978-0-292-70835-8. 
  16. ^ Buckner, Sherry; Kimball, Allan C (2006). GPP Travel. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-7627-4174-8. 
  17. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  18. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved December 18, 2013. 
  19. ^ Texas Almanac: County Population History 1850-2010 Retrieved December 18, 2013
  20. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°43′N 104°08′W / 30.72°N 104.13°W / 30.72; -104.13