County Seat: Vega
Year Organized: 1876
Square Miles: 1,501
P.O. Box 360
Williamson Simpson Oldham, a Confederate legislator in Texas
County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts
Oldham County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. Oldham County was formed in 1876 and organized in 1880, and named for Williamson Simpson Oldham, a Texas pioneer and Confederate Senator. At the time of its organization, nearly the entire county was a part of the XIT Ranch. Its county seat is Vega. The county seat was originally at the town of Tascosa, which in the 1880s was one of the largest towns in the Panhandle
Oldham County's history has revolved around the Canadian River, which runs in an east–west direction across the northern part of the county. Archeological investigations, beginning with the 1932 excavations of Saddleback Mesa, have unearthed evidence of the Panhandle Pueblo culture. Petroglyphs and other artifacts attest to the presence of other pre-Columbian peoples. Plains Apaches, followed by the warlike Comanches and Kiowas, found refuge in the breaks of the Canadian. Various Spanish entradas utilized the river as they traveled eastward from New Mexico. Probably both the expedition of Francisco Vázquez de Coronadoqv (1541-44) and the Oñate expeditionqv of 1601 crossed the area. It is fairly certain that Pedro Vialqv passed through in 1786 and 1788. The Facundo Melgares party came through the county as it searched for Zebulon M. Pikeqv in 1806. Likewise, the ciboleros and Comancherosqqv from northern New Mexico all used the Canadian as a major trade route; indeed, the Atascosa Springs area was a frequent trading ground for Comancheros and their Indian customers. Stephen H. Long, Josiah Gregg, James W. Abert, Randolph B. Marcy,qqv and W. W. Whipple led their pathfinding expeditions along the Canadian valley through the area during the early nineteenth century. Buffaloqv hunters established temporary camps in the area in the 1870s, and they were soon joined by ranchers and pastores.qv In 1876 the Texas legislature established Oldham County from the huge original Bexar County, and the county was organized in 1880, with Tascosa as the county seat. Caleb B. (Cape) Willinghamqv became the first sheriff, C. B. Vivian was elected county clerk, and William S. Mabryqv was made county surveyor. Sixteen unorganized Panhandle counties were attached to Oldham County for administrative purposes. A population of 287 in 1880 made the county the second most populous of the Panhandle area; only Wheeler County, on the east side of the Panhandle, had more residents. The ranching industry of Oldham County began very soon after the Red River Warqv of 1874-75 forced the Comanches and other Plains nomads onto reservations in Indian Territory. Soon after the Indian removal, Casimiro Romeroqv and his fellow pastores from New Mexico established sheep ranches, dotted with stone and adobe plazas, throughout the area, along the Canadian River and its tributaries. As a result Mexican-American settlers outnumbered Anglo-Americans for some time. The situation began to change in 1877, when George W. Littlefield started his LIT Ranchqqv just east of Tascosa. Between 1879 and 1881 W. M. D. Leeqv and his partners bought out many of the pastores and established the LE and LS ranches,qqv supplanting the sheep with cattle. In 1882 the Capitol Syndicate marked off a large amount of Oldham County lands for use in its famous XIT Ranch.qv Only the southeastern part of the county fell outside the XIT after that time. Following a certain amount of property exchanging and dislocation within the local ranching industry, other ranches (the LX and the Frying Pan,qqv for instance) occupied Oldham County acreage
More at Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/OO/hco2.html (accessed November 8, 2008).
According to the US Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,501 square miles (3,889 km2), of which,
1,500 square miles (3,887 km2) of it is land and 1 square miles (2 km2) of it (0.05%) is water.
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