Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 20, No. 2
NOTES ON THE HISTORY OF OLD GREER COUNTY1
By Lem H. Tittle
The land granted to Captain A. S. Mangum upon which the city bearing his name now stands, by the State of Texas was to reward
him as one of the Texas Volunteers in the Army of the Confederacy.
It happens that my father came into Greer County as foreman for the Haney-Handy cattle outfit in February 1880. He is still
hale and hearty and in possession of all his faculties. Several years ago, when I first became interested in the history of
this area, he told me in detail of H. C. Sweet coming here from Hamilton County, Texas, in 1883 as a surveyor in the employ
of a Captain Mangum for the purpose of locating land script and "laying out" a townsite. Sweet came and camped in what is
now the south side of Mangum and remained until his task was completed. During that time the cowboys frequently visited him
and kept him supplied with fresh meat. In fact they showered upon him such wholesome friendliness that he resolved to return
and bring his family. In 1884 he returned and established his home. Incidentally, he also established a store which was a
"boon" to the cowboys for before that time they had been obliged to ride horseback to Vernon or Doan's Store on Red River
for such necessities as they could not obtain "right at home." His stock consisted of various canned fruits and lunch goods
and a complete and large stock of tobacco. As cans were emptied by the cowboys whose appetites ran principally to canned fruits,
the empties were used to weather-strip his boxed shanty. Thus his "town" became known as "Tin Town." Later the Indians called
it "Sweet" and finally, as settlers came in, "Mangum."
Later, in 1884, J. R. Crouch, who had been a professional hunter in former years and one of those characters who are constantly
seeking the frontier, came with his family and camped in the southwest part of what is now Mangum, in a tent. Within a short
time after his arrival, and before the cowboys knew he was in the country, he rode up on a round-up southeast of town. My
father was in charge of the outfit and made himself acquainted and introduced all the cowboys. They gave Crouch a quarter
of beef and father was invited, as were the other "hands," to visit the camp. The next day my father visited the family and
being greatly in need of a hair cut and shave, Crouch invited him to submit to his tonsorial skill. He was given a meal cooked
by a woman and evidently it way so splendid that it was advertised extensively among the "hands." At any rate, shortly thereafter
Crouch was in the hotel business and Mrs. Crouch was the cook. They prospered and became an integral part of the social life
of Old Greer. Evidently Crouch and the family decided that, as did Brigham Young when he cited the
Valley of the Salt Lake, "This is the place," for they never sought any more frontiers. Had the cowmen and cowboys had any
opposition to their remaining among them there would have been some evidence of their animosity. I can truthfully say that
the cowmen never had any animosity toward any settler and there is only one case on record where any objection was entered
and that was along in the nineties when a sheep man brought in three or four thousand sheep. At that time cattlemen thought
cattle would not graze where sheep had ranged.
The first newspaper published in Old Greer County was The Mangum Star, 1887, now graduated into a thriving, progressive daily.
The first church established in this area was the Navajoe Baptist Church, 1887, now the First Baptist Church of Headrick.
The Old Greer County Historical Society maintains a historical museum in the City Hall at Mangum in which are to be found
many relics, possibly fifteen hundred items including the county records of Greer County, Texas, all having to do with the
pioneer history of this area.
The decision of the United States Supreme Court in March, 1896, nullified all titles to land. Prior to that date the town
Mangum had been platted and many lots sold and improved. In fact it was a hustling frontier metropolis. As the land title
to the city had to be protected for the incoming settler, cattlemen and others ceded H. C. Sweet the right to be the first
to file his claim when the land office was opened. He filed on the old A. S. Mangum land and later executed deeds to all property
formerly sold while under the de facto government of Texas.
Incidentally, A. S. Mangum was never in Greer County. He was a very old man when Texas issued the Confederate Veteran land
script and shortly after making his deal with the engineer H. C. Sweet, he died. His contract with Sweet was carried on to
fulfillment by his heirs. In the museum is the original deed from the heirs of A. S. Mangum conveying to H. C. Sweet the lots
and blocks provided to be conveyed in the original contract.
Greer County was first seen by Europeans in 1541. In that year Coronado crossed the western part from south to north in his
search of the elusive and mysterious "Quivira." Then in 1611 one Padre Juan de Salas with a company of missionaries came into
the Wichita Mountains and remained until 1619.
In 1650 Don Diego del Castillo with a military expedition supporting a number of miners and prospectors came into the Wichitas
and spent six months searching for gold. Many of their prospect holes are to be found in the mountains wherever there is a
showing of quartz. Two shafts were sunk in solid granite an unknown number of feet, and pictures are available of them. They
are now filled with water and their depth has not be determined except to the extent that they are known to be more than ten
feet deep. As to whether they found gold, the answer is "NO."
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