|Published: Sept. 23, 1999
Compiled by Kaitlin Trowbridge
Odessa at the start of the 20th Century.At the turn of the century, Odessa was a tiny farming and ranching community. The towns earliest pioneers, who arrived in the 1880s, had built 25 small farms by 1900, and new settlers had begun to move into the area with herds of cattle and sheep. At that time, steers sold for at least $8 each, a sum that attracted many young entrepreneurs to the cattle ranching industry. An abundance of grass in West Texas made it a land of opportunity for raising livestock. Often these folks didnt own the land upon which their cattle grazed, they simply fenced off sections to keep their herds separate. According to a census, cattle considerably outnumbered the citizens: There were 15,000 of them but only 381 people, including three foreign-born residents and one African American. An early settler characterized the community in the following way: "Odessa was a small cow town with two prominent saloons, three pool halls, an opry house, a blacksmith shop, a two by five jail, two grocery stores, two dry goods stores, a hotel, two eatin joints, a meat market and a variety store. 381 people earnestly devoted to the raising of the two outstanding West Texas products, hell and yearlings."
Is there a doctor in the house?In January, 1900, brothers R.A. and R.G. Wilson arrived in Odessa and filed their credentials with the Ector County Physician Records. Official histories of Odessa report that shortly thereafter, an affectionate community renamed them Big Doc and Little Doc. They remained in the area until entering military service in World War I. Little Doc performed the towns first appendectomy on Leta Bishop, and also opened the countys second hospital, a two-story building on the 200 block of Grant Avenue. Eight other physicians offered sporadic medical care in Odessa between 1900 and 1919. In those days, townsfolk fell victim to diphtheria, remittent fever, tuberculosis, grippe, dropsy, pneumonia, meningitis, typhoid, smallpox and gunshot wounds.
Lola Buchananmoved to Odessa in 1900 and accepted a teaching position at the towns little brick schoolhouse. At that time, schoolteachers were scarce. The only other teacher in Odessa was W. D. Jenkins. Lola received a salary of $30 a month, half of which she paid to Mrs. E.A. Kelly, with whom she lived, for her room and board. She gave up teaching the following year, after her marriage to M.G. Buchanan, a county judge and rancher.
Ticketing the train. When the Texas & Pacific trains stopped in town, they used to obstruct traffic for intolerable periods of time. According to local folklore, Sheriff John Thomas finally decided that it was high time the train crew got a "parking ticket" for the inconvenience they were causing Odessa citizens. As the story goes, the impertinent crew refused to pay the fine that he imposed, and so the sheriff chained and padlocked the wheels of the train together, not releasing them until the railroads division headquarters was wired and payment of the fine was guaranteed.
|Will Martin first rode into town not on
the usual horse, but rather on a bicycle. He arrived here from Kerrville with his father,
W.W. Martin, a retired lawyer, and three brothers, Walter, Edwin and Charlie. Edwin
initially worked for his uncle, T.J. Martin, a cattle rancher. Later, he and Walter ran a
store together, which was located on the corner of First and Grant, and Edwin also worked
as a cashier for the second bank in Odessa, which operated within the Martin Brothers
store. Will and Charlie became co-owners of a livery stable, but eventually sold the
property for $100. Citizens National Bank was later built on the site. From 1905-1910,
Will Martin and his future wife, Willie Beaty (whom he married in 1911) were members of
"Froggie" Becks popular band. Will later recalled that the only business
buildings in town were the livery stable, the courthouse and the railroad depot. He also
remembered that the local cowboys would stage sham fights, shooting blanks and riding
their horses up Main Street and sometimes into the stores. Since visitors often mistook
this horsing around for real gunfights, Odessa got a reputation for being a rough town.
-- Two years after the Rev. A.L. Powell and 12 residents established Odessas first Baptist congregation, Odessa Baptist Church was established and began meeting in a wooden building at the corner of Fifth and Grant.
-- McDonald Dam in Austin gives way during a heavy rainstorm in April, flooding the city and killing 23 people.
-- On Sept. 8, hurricane destroys Galveston, killing 6,000 to 8,000 people in the nations worst natural disaster.
-- In late summer U.S. sends 2,500 troops into China to help quell Boxer rebellion.
-- Dock fire in Hoboken, N.J., kills 326 people in June.
-- 200 miners killed in accident in Scofield, Utah in May.
-- Assassin kills Kentucky Gov. William Goebel in January.
Information is drawn from news accounts, archives and other historical records.
|The Odessa American News Paper is Odessa's History
Book of today!
20th Century Countdown.The Odessa American's daily countdown of the last 100 years, from 1900 through 1999, with a short summary of some news and newsmakers affecting residents of Odessa.