Briscoe County, Texas

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Briscoe county was created from Bexar District August 21, 1876, but was not organized intil March 15, 1892. It is named for Andrew Briscoe 1810-1849, Defender of Texan liberty at the Battle of Concepcion, the Capture of Bexar, and the Battle of San Jacinto. [1]

Pre-Columbian - Ruins of irrigations canals indicate a high degree of civilization.
1700 - The Plains Apaches followed these Indians by the Comanches, who found the canyon recesses abundant with buffalo, antelope, and other wild game. [2]
late 1780's - José Mares and Pedro Vial came trough with their trading expeditions. [2]
1841 The Texas Santa Fe Expedition went through Quitaque country
1852 Captains Randolph B. Marcy, George B. McClellan followed the Prairie Dog Town Fork near the springs of area west of the site of present Quitaque. [2]
1872 Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie's 4th US Cavalry crisscrossed the county in pursuit of the "Mongols of the West"[2]
1892- jail.
Sept 25-27, 1874 The Red Rivers War they battled the Indians at Tule Creek . [2]
Sept 29, 1874. Mackenzie's troops slaughtered over 1,000 Indian horses at the Tule Canyon after their crucial victory at Palo Duro Canyon the day before.[2]
1865-1867 José Piedad Tafoya ("dean" of Comancheros) maintained a trading post at Los Lenguas Springs (Los Lingos Creek) open-range cattle raising came to the area.[2]
1878 The Baker brothers and O. J. Wiren established the Quitaque (Lazy F) Ranch, which was added to the JA Ranch properties in 1882 and fenced the following year.[2]
1883 The Tule Ranch in Armstrong and Briscoe Counties, is 175,000 acres, and used COW-CALF, yearling, Stocker cattle, wheat.
1887 Charles Goodnight terminated his partnership with Cornelia Adair, then owned Quitaque, along with L. R. Moore. JA and Shoe Bar ranches owned land in the NE part of the county. [2]
1890 The Stock farmers and small ranchers began on the periphery of the Lazy F.[2]
Aug, 1890 - Thomas J. Braidfoot filed for his claim on the section of land and built his hous. This would later contain Silverton and built his house. He and business partners who had arrived from Della Plain, Floyd County formed the Silverton townsite company. He built a house in the area. In the spring of the following year he and his associates, most of whom had arrived from Della Plain in Floyd County, formed a townsite company. -[3]

1st store in Quitaque

1890 The Quitaque was first known as a stage stop. Merchants and other businessmen also trickled in. [2] 1891 Thomas J. Braidfoot laid out the townsite of Silverton and led the movement for the organization of the county. By the spring of 1892 enough settlers had arrived to bring Braidfoot's plan to fruition. A petition was circulated, and on March 15, 1892, the electorate officially organized the county and chose Silverton as its seat.

J. N. Stalbird was elected the first county judge, F. D. Fisher county attorney, R. I. Hanna treasurer, T. L. Anderson clerk, and Miner Crawford sheriff. [2]

1892: The Jail was constructed in 1892, made of handcut stone hauled here by horse-drawn wagons from Tule Canyon. In the early years sheriff's families rented it as residence. Lower floor was used by Red Cross workers, for sewing, during World War I.

This jail stands as the lasting reminder of what courage and dedication mean in preserving law, order and integrity in Briscoe County. The jail (1892) is the oldest building in Briscoe County.The County Attorney is keeper of the museum keys. [4]

1900 The population had grown to 1,253, and six school districts had been established. :1917 The Immigrant farmers introduced various crops to the region the most promising of which were wheat, sorghum, and cotton. [2]
1930 Cotton was first grown in Briscoe County on an experimental basis [2]
1900 Eight acres of Briscoe County land was planted in cotton; (1910 > 3,400 acres )[2] (7,535 acres in 1920), (1929 36,000 acres).
1912 The county's first cotton gin was built.
1900-1930 -Farms, until most of the arable lands were under cultivation by the early 1930s. The number of farms in the county grew from 170 in 1900 to 307 in 1910, to 397 in 1920 and 679 in 1930. As farming expanded, the population grew, from 2,162 in 1910 to 2,948 by 1920 and to 5,590 by 1930. Agricultural growth in the South Plains finally brought a railroad into the county.
1920s All freight came in wagons, and later in automobiles, from Amarillo or Estelline.
1925 -27 The Fort Worth and Denver Railway built into the region.
1927 The branch line was completed from Estelline westward to Quitaque and Silverton. :1928 southward from Quitaque to Plainview and Lubbock
1928 A Graded auto roads replaced many of the old wagon routes; [2]
State Highway 86 was completed from Tulia via Silverton and Quitaque to Turkey, in Hall County. Later, State Highway 256 linked Silverton with Memphis and Clarendon.[2]
1930 -During the Great Depression-agricultural economy suffered. and contracted.
1930 and 1940 farms dropped from 679 to 516. Cotton production dropped 30 percent. Losses associated with the depression were also responsible for a drop in the county's population; 5,590 people lived in Briscoe County.[2]
1930 Population 5,590 people
1940 Population 4,056
World War II More dislocation or citizens occurred. This was due to consolidation and mechanization of agriculture

Tule Ranch 1883 The Tule Ranch in Armstrong and Briscoe Counties, is 175,000 acres, and used as COW-CALF, yearling, Stocker cattle, wheat.

1887 Charles Goodnight terminated his partnership with Cornelia Adair, then owned Quitaque, with L. R. Moore. JA and Shoe Bar ranches owned land in the NE part of the county.

[2] Land for this ranch was in Tule canyon, which runs through the ranch was purchased in 1883 by Charles Goodnight and John George Adair. Following this Mattie Hedgecoke bought land when the JA Ranch was sold. Mattie Hedgecoke, then sold 27,000 acres of Mr. D. M. Cogdell, Sr in 1953.. Cogdell acquired more acreage, which were inherited by sons Billy and D. M. Jr.In 1994 Billy bought out his brother’s half of the Tule and is its sole owner.</ref>

Armstrong County
Donley County
North arrow
Swisher County
West arrow Briscoe County, Texas East arrow East
Hall County
South arrow
Floyd County
Motley County

Government Offices

Briscoe County Courthouse

Briscoe county Courthouse, constructed in 1922 with style Classical Revival made of Brick and concrete. [1]


North Central Plains is bounded by the Caprock Escarpment in the Panhandle. The Caprock is higher in elevation than the rest of the North Central Plains. A noted fact of one who has lived there,- over the ages the creeks and rivers run-off of water wears the region down to the river. This is known as the Breaks.

Size: 887 sq mi of
Terrain -irregular terrain
Altitude: 3,300 feet drops in Tule Canyon as low as 1,000 feet.
Precipitation : 10.5 inches
Growing season averages 214 days a year.
Temperature -Minimum is 26° F in January, and maximum is 94° in July.
Silverton, the county seat, is five miles SW of the center of the county,

Longitude/Latitude  : 101°15' west longitude and 34°30' north latitude, (60 miles SE of Amarillo.

Soils: gray and chocolate loams to light sand in valleys of the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River and its tributaries, including Tule Creek. These streams have formed the canyons and breaks crossing the county's northern and eastern portions.
Grasses/Trees - native grasses, mesquite and cedar trees; cotton, wheat, and grain sorghums are raised on the arable lands above the Caprock.

Major Highways

  • State Highway 70
  • State Highway 86
  • State Highway 207
  • State Highway 256

Scenic Drives Hwy 86 and 207 North are noted for being scenic drives. The drive between Silverton and Claude crosses Palo Duro and Tule Canyons. Hwy 256 reveals the Eastern edge of the Great Plains in a dramatic change in altitude.

Protected areas

  • Caprock Canyons State Park
Tule Canyon

Tule Canyon

  • Lake Mackenzie: -10 miles NW of Silverton via Hwy 86 to Tule Canyon and the 900 acre lake. RV Hookups and fishing.
  • Mackenzie Reservoir formed after water on Tule Creek was impounded. In 1972 the project was begun, just east of the site of the slaughter of the Indian ponies by Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie's Fourth Cavalry in 1874.

Texas Panhandle

The Texas Panhandle is a region of the U.S. state of Texas consisting of the northernmost 26 counties in the state. The panhandle is a rectangular area bordered by New Mexico to the west and Oklahoma to the north and east. The Handbook of Texas defines the southern border of Swisher County to be the southern boundary of the Texas Panhandle region.

  • Armstrong County
  • Briscoe County
  • Carson County
  • Castro County,
  • Childress County,
  • Collingsworth County,
  • Dallam County,
  • Deaf Smith County,
  • Donley County,
  • Gray County,
  • Hall County,

8 Hansford County,

  • Hartley County,
  • Hemphill County,
  • Hutchinson County,
  • Lipscomb County,
  • Moore County,
  • Ochiltree County,
  • Oldham County,
  • Parmer County,
  • Potter County,
  • Randall County,
  • Roberts County,
  • Sherman County,
  • Swisher County,
  • Wheeler County


Briscoe county has 900 square miles (2,300 km2) is land and 1.6 square miles (4.1 km2) (0.2%) is water.

In 2000, there were 1,790 people, 724 households, with population density was 1 people per square mile (1/km²). There were 1,006 housing units at an average density of 1 per square mile (0/km²). The races were 83.35% White, 2.29% Black or African American, 0.39% Native American, 0.06% Asian, 11.45% from other races, and 2.46% from two or more races. 22.74% of the population were Hispanic .

The median income for a household in the county was $29,917, and the median inbcome for a family was $35,326. and 16.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.00% of those under age 18 and 12.50% of those age 65 or over.

"The 2000 census reflected 1,790 people with population density of 2 people/sq mile.It also shows 83.35% whites, 2.29 Blacks, .39% Native Americans, and 22.74 of the population were Hispanic.



Public Schools

  • Silverton Independent School District
  • Clarendon Independent School District partial
  • Turkey-Quitaque Independent School District partial

Historical Census

1880 - 12 —
1900 - 1,253 —
1910 - 2,162 72.5%
1920 - 2,948 36.4%
1930 - 5,590 89.6%
1940 - 4,056 −27.4%
1950 - 3,528 −13.0%
1960 - 3,577 1.4%
1970 - 2,794 −21.9%
1980 - 2,579 −7.7%
1990 - 1,971 −23.6%
2000 - 1,790 −9.2%
2010 - 1,637 −8.5%
Est. 2015 - 1,505 −8.1%


  • Charles Goodnight
  • Ranalds S Mackenzie

County Resources

Tule Canyon Mackenzie Reservoir was begun when water on Tule Creek was impounded. In 1972 the project was begun, just east of the site of the slaughter of the Indian ponies by Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie's Fourth Cavalry in 1874



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  3. Handbook of Texas Online:H. Allen Anderson, "SILVERTON, TX," Handbook of Texas Online

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