Location of Mobeetie, Texas
|• Total||0.6 sq mi (1.6 km2)|
|• Land||0.6 sq mi (1.6 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||2,641 ft (805 m)|
|• Density||170.0/sq mi (62.2/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||1363014|
Mobeetie (formerly known as "Cantonment Sweetwater") was a trading post for hunters and trappers for nearby United States Army outpost Fort Elliott. It was first a buffalo hunter's camp unofficially called "Hidetown." Connected to the major cattle-drive town of Dodge City, Kansas, by the Jones-Plummer Trail, Mobeetie was a destination for stagecoach freight and buffalo skinners. As it grew, the town supported the development of cattle ranches within a hundred mile radius by supplying the staple crops.1
The first formal name for the town was "Sweetwater." It was located on the North Fork of the Red River. Nearby Fort Elliott, developed to protect the buffalo trade from Indian raiders, stimulated further growth of the town. On January 24, 1876, occurred the "Sweetwater Shootout," Anthony Cook (aka Corporal "Sergeant" Melvin A. King; of the then 4th Cavalry-Company H, stationed at Fort Elliot), shot and killed Mollie Brennan (a dance hall girl and former prostitute). Sgt. King then wounded Bat Masterson, who in return killed him (King may have shot Masterson first and then killed Brennan; accounts vary). Texas cattleman Charles Goodnight said about the town: "I think it was the hardest place I ever saw on the frontier except Cheyenne, Wyoming."
When the town applied for a post office in 1879, the name "Sweetwater" was already in use. The town took the new name of "Mobeetie," believed to be a Native American word for "Sweetwater."
Because of the presence of Fort Elliott and Mobeetie's importance as a commercial center, Wheeler County became the first politically organized county in the Texas Panhandle, in 1879, followed by Oldham County at the since ghost town of Tascosa. Mobeetie became the first county seat for Wheeler County. From 1880 to 1883, the notorious Robert Clay Allison ranched with his two brothers, John William and Jeremiah Monroe, twelve miles northeast of town, at the junction of the Washita River and Gageby Creek. One day, Allison rode through Mobeetie drunk and naked. Allison married America Medora "Dora" McCulloch in Mobeetie on February 15, 1881.
Lester Fields Sheffy, in The Life and Times of Timothy Dwight Hobart, 1855-1935: Colonization of West Texas (1950), describes Mobeetie as follows:
Mobeetie was perhaps the most typical frontier town in the American Southwest on account of its background and the cosmopolitan character of its people. It was never a large town as early plains towns went, but it was a busy and a thriving center. When [land surveyor] Timothy Dwight Hobart arrived at Mobeetie in 1886, the town was in the heyday of its existence. Its several merchandise stores and other business firms, its blacksmith shops and livery stables, its law offices and real estate agencies, its nine saloons, and its fort, its substantial rock school building and its church organizations were a splendid index to the varied interest and character of the people. Mobeetie had all the elements of people that it took to make a typical frontier village. It had its buffalo hunters and its bull whackers, its soldiers and its scouts, its indolents and its prostitutes, its substantial businessmen, and its legal fraternity. ...One of the most stabilizing influences among the citizenry of Mobeetie was its soldiers. While most of the soldiers themselves were transient and never became permanent citizens of the community, yet they exercised a restraining influence over the town and surrounding country because of the feeling of security which their presence gave to the region. ... At times there was dissension between the soldiers and the civilians, but the most cordial relationships existed at all times between the officers at the fort and the more substantial business leaders of the town. The presence of several hundred soldiers at the fort increased the profits of the merchants, the saloon keepers, the dance halls, and brought considerable ready cash into the community...
When Army Lieutenant Colonel John Porter Hatch was reassigned from Fort Elliott in 1881, the Wheeler County Commissioners Court authorized a resolution honoring Hatch for his service: "He has proven himself at all times agreeable to the citizens of this section and willing to aid them as a community or as individuals whenever such aid has been required, and to the fullest extent of his power."
In the 1880s, Temple Lea Houston, the youngest son of Sam Houston, was the district attorney of the 35th Judicial District of Texas, when then encompassed fifteen counties in the Texas Panhandle. The district was based at the time in the courthouse at Mobeetie. Houston was also a member of the Texas State Senate from 1885 to 1889 and later moved to Oklahoma, where he worked for statehood. An NBC television series, Temple Houston, which aired from 1963 to 1964, is loosely based on his life, with Jeffrey Hunter in the starring role.
At its peak in 1890, the town had over four hundred people, but Mobeetie's boom days ended when Fort Elliott closed that same year. Further decline came with the tornado of May 1, 1898, and then the loss of the county seat, in 1907, to Wheeler. In 1929, Wheeler moved two miles when the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railway built nearby tracks. The town steadily grew again until the start of World War II brought a peak of about five hundred.
Little remains of the Old Mobeetie. Sheffy, in The Life and Times of Timothy Dwight Hobart writes:
The new Mobeetie stands almost within gun shot of the old town in the midst of a great agricultural and stock raising region. The worn and unkept buildings of the old town speak eloquently of its hard struggle to survivew. They should be preserved as a lasting monument to the struggle and achievement of a people who wrought well in laying the foundations of Anglo-American civilization in the Southwest."
The Pioneer West Museum in Shamrock, Texas, preserves the heritage of the Old Mobeetie region. Its contains an exhibit on Fort Elliott.
Mobeetie is located at (35.533551, -100.439228).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.6 square miles (1.6 km²), all land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 107 people, 48 households, and 28 families residing in the city. The population density was 175.3 people per square mile (67.7/km²). There were 68 housing units at an average density of 111.4/sq mi (43.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 99.07% White and 0.93% Native American. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.54% of the population.
There were 48 households out of which 27.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.0% were married couples living together, 8.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.6% were non-families. 37.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.97.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.1% under the age of 18, 3.7% from 18 to 24, 24.3% from 25 to 44, 21.5% from 45 to 64, and 23.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 101.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $35,625, and the median income for a family was $39,583. Males had a median income of $35,417 versus $23,125 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,059. There were no families and 2.9% of the population living below the poverty line, including no under eighteens and none of those over 64.
The City of Mobeetie is served by the Fort Elliott Consolidated Independent School District.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Bat Masterson and the Sweetwater Shootout" by Gary L. Roberts
- "Charlie Siringo, Letter Writer" by Mark Dworkin
- Clay Allison from the Handbook of Texas Online
- Clay at Legends of America
- "The Allison Clan - A Visit" by Sharon Cunningham
- Lester Fields Sheffy, The Life and Times of Timothy Dwight Hobart, 1855-1935: Colonization of West Texas (Canyon, Texas: Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, 1950), pp. 148-150, 157.
- Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), pp. 106-109
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- Climate Summary for Mobeetie, Texas
1The Texas Panhandle Frontier; Rathjen, Frederick W; (1973); Texas Tech University Press. ISBN 0-89672-399-2.