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History of Stinnett

April 6th, 2010Stinnett  courthouse

As the citizens of Stinnett, Texas celebrate their 84th anniversary, it is fitting that we acknowledge the people that were responsible for establishing its town site.

In 1925, the Rock Island Railroad instructed A. S. Stinnett and Joe Williams, two railroad men, to produce the right-of-way for a branch line from Amarillo, Texas to Liberal, Kansas. While Mr. Stinnett was engaged in this work, he saw the need for a town near the Hutchinson County. The site of Stinnett was selected because it was out of the rough country along the Canadian River.

On July 24th, 1926, A. S. Stinnett and Joe Williams paid W. A. Starnes $48,000.00 for the surface rights of Section twenty-two of Block M-23 of the Texas Central Railway Survey. Mr. Starnes reserved the mineral rights. At the time of purchase, the land was a productive corn field.

Two town site promoters, Ace Borger and J.T. Peyton, were engaged. The land was then surveyed, subdivided into blocks, lots, streets, avenues, and alleys. The Stinnett Town site Company dedicated the streets, avenues and alleys to the use of the public. The right and privilege to construct gas, water and sewer lines, to erect telephone and electric light poles was reserved to the company. A small town site building was constructed.

Bill Christian suggested the name “Town of Stinnett” in honor of A.S. Stinnett, and this name was accepted by the Rock Island Railroad. The town site was dedicated on August 11th, 1926; however, no land could be sold as part of Stinnett before the filing of the Plat on September 14th, 1926.

Then on August 15th, 1926, Ace Borger and J.T. Peyton declared a big “Dollar Day” event. Lots were placed on sale, and a picnic with games was arranged. Hundreds of people gathered for the event. Corner lots sold as high as $1,250.00, and “inside” lots were sold as high as $1000.00. Within four months, these men had sold $400,000.00 worth of lots. Of these, $150,000.00 lapsed. Two hundred fifty thousand dollars was collected and divided among the stock holders. The Rock Island used the $25,000.00 they received to build a railway station at Stinnett.

In 1901 the county seat of Hutchinson County had been located at Plemons, which was a small riverside town located about ten miles south and east of Stinnett. Ace Borger sought to secure the county seat for Stinnett, and a petition calling for an election to move the county seat from Plemons to Stinnett was circulated. He was successful in getting an election called for September 18th, 1926.

There were about 500 legal voters in the county. Many “heated” discussions on the desirability and the possibility of moving the county seat occurred. As soon as it was determined that Stinnett had won the election, Ace Borger set about arranging for the removal of the court records from Plemons to Stinnett.
The county commissioners canvassed the election returns on September 20th and advised each county official to be responsible for the records of his office and to move them to the town site building at the earliest date convenient. Then, shortly after midnight on September 20th, the Stinnett boosters and certain county officials transferred the records to the town site building in Stinnett. When the county employees arrived for work at the Plemons Courthouse, they were informed of the removal of the records. Within an
Hour the county employees reached Stinnett, set up tables along the walls, pulled the current books from a pile on the floor, and work was in progress.

The first courthouse in Hutchinson County cost $90.00. That was in 1901 when a box-car structure was erected at Plemons until a larger one could be built. Stinnett’s first courthouse cost $3000.00, but it was too small. Ace Borger insisted that the best way to keep the county seat was to build an expensive courthouse, one that the people could not afford to move. In 1927, a bond election carried which provided for the building of a courthouse at the cost of $450.000.00. The furniture cost an additional $56,000.00. It is one of the most complete and most beautiful courthouses in the state.

The courthouse dedication ceremonies were held December 15th, 1928. The local florists presented the county with flowers for every room in the building, and lights were on in every room. Hundreds of people attended, and the crowd was so tightly packed in the hallway that Burt Bryan said it took him ten minutes to go from the front entrance to the second floor of the building.

Stinnett was incorporated May 10th, 1927. A mayor and two commissioners were elected as provided by law under a mayor—commission type of government. The first mayor was L.A. Daniels; W.H. Burden was employed as town secretary. The town seal adopted was the coat of arms of the state of Texas in a circle, with the words, “Town of Stinnett, State of Texas,” engraved around the margin thereof.

Not the railroad, not the county seat, but the discovery of oil brought about the rapid growth of Stinnett.

By the time the railroad reached Stinnett, the population was estimated to be at least 2,500. Some early residents think it was closer to 3,500. The rush for home and business sites began on “Dollar Day” in August 1926. Rough wooden shacks and canvas tents were hurriedly erected.

In 1928, a tax bond of $37,000.00 was voted for the construction of a water distribution system. Water was purchased from the Phillips Petroleum Company. The water mains were small, and the water pressure was too weak to furnish fire protection. In 1936 one sewer line from the courthouse to a draw south of town was constructed. Sewage was allowed to flow into the draw. Revenue bonds of $130,000.00 were voted in 1951, for the construction on a modern sewer system and improved water works.

Stinnett has always had a group of people both will and eager to worship God and to serve humanity. The Methodist, Baptist, First Christian Church, Church of Christ, Assembly of God, Church of Nazarene, St. Ann’s Catholic Church, Victory Baptist, and Church of God 7th Day have established congregations in the town. Other active organizations are the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America.

The industrial development of natural gas and petroleum, which underlie the Stinnett area, has created a source of employment for many people. From homes in Stinnett, laborers travel over paved highways to refineries located at Phillips, Borger or Buena Vista.

Stinnett is no longer a “boom town”. The forces of lawlessness, greed and brutality have been brought under control. The city government has been changed from the mayor-commissioner type to the mayor-councilmen type. The town owns the water works, the sewer system, the natural gas distribution lines, the fire department and ambulance service. Stinnett welcomes new businesses and as always is hoping for a prosperous future.