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Wegefarth County, no more and never much was

To entice white settlement, Texas granted permission for a colonization scheme that created Wegefarth County at the 100th Meridian (UNT).

In June of 1873, the Texas legislature approved the creation of Wegefarth County along the Prairie Dog Town Fork and the North Fork of the Red River, west of disputed Greer County in the farthest western reaches of the Red River Valley. This was done not because Texas wanted to shore up geographic boundaries for Greer County, but to entice white settlement inside a territory still claimed by Plains tribes. C. Wegefarth, an oilman and president of both the Wichita Colonization Company and the Texas Immigration Aid and Supply Company, lent the new county his name. He and two other investors wanted to secure the area for settlement, seeking to make money from deeds.

In this period in Texas, only white 'heads of households' (not African Americans or Native Americans) could secure land grants from the State of Texas, which granted 160 acres of land to pre-emptors, called colonizers, who could demonstrate improvements, such as growing crops, building fences, or operating ferries. However, threats from attacks by Comanches and Kiowas were still real enough possibilities that colonizers hesitated to settle in the Texas panhandle. This is why Wegefarth county was platted and promoted: by securing the land and offering the ability to homestead for title fees, the area could be settled by whites, the natives pushed out, and the state gained more taxpayers.

This map, published by the Bureau of Immigration of the State of Texas, was distributed to German farmers (mainly in states like Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas) interested in moving to Texas. The map promoted Wegefarth County as a place with "high rolling prairie, fine springs, rich fertile soil" but cautioned that its sandstone region was "destitute of timber."

Wegefarth County, however, did not have many takers. With the end of the Red River Wars in 1875 and the passage of a Texas law in 1876 that forbade Caddos, Comanches, Kiowas, Apaches, Arapahos, Wichitas, Tonkawas, and Cheyennes from crossing the Red River, the state organized its panhandle in sectioned counties without the need for promoters. By 1876, Wegefarth County ceased to exist.

Wegefarth County did not leave much tangible history. No major settlements ever saw the light of day here; instead, Mobeetie (Wheeler County), a center of the bison slaughter industry and the earliest white settlement in the Texas panhandle, became the draw for pioneers instead.

The promotional map of would-be Wegefarth County is found here.

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1 commentaire

Ann Lucas
Ann Lucas
01 nov. 2023

Thank you for this map, it answered a bunch of questions

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