Loving County, Texas

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  • Loving County was formed 1887 from Tom Green County; organized 1893, deorganized 1897, again organized 1931. It is named for Oliver Loving, trail driver. County is state's least populous.[1]

Long ago, in prehistoric times, Loving county area had many springs with potable (drinkable) water. These supported wildlife and nomadic hunters that wandered through the area. [2]

1837 - 1874, the area of modern Loving County was part of the Bexar land district. In 1874 it was separated from Bexar County, becoming a part of Tom Green County.
1853 - Antonio de Espejo visited the area in 1853 and s known to have crossed the Pecos River.[2]
1854 - John Pope surveyed the area to for a railroad company to lay tracks.[2]
1855 - John started a camp in NW Loving county to create or dig artesian wells in this area. [2]
1858 - 1861 - Butterfield Overland Mail ran a stage station at Pope's Camp, 1858 -1861. [3]
1861 - Activity for artesian wells was abandoned since the venture was unsuccessful.[2]
1861 Civil War
1867 - Loving County was named for Oliver Loving, ( cattle rancher and pioneer of the cattle drive who, along with Charles Goodnight, developed the Goodnight-Loving Trail.) He was mortally wounded by Comanches while on a cattle drive in 1867 in the this vicinity of the county.
1874 - Loving county was separated from Bexar county and became part of Tom Green County.[3]
1887 - Loving county was created. It was disorganized.
June, 1893, the organizers of the canal company filed a petition with the Reeves County Commissioners Court signed by 150 allegedly qualified voters who requested separate organization for Loving County. The court approved the petition and allowed the organization of the county. A county election was held on July 8, 1893, eighty-three votes were reported, and county organization was approved.[3]
A landowner complained and hired a New York law firm to investigate some improprieties in county government. The law firm discovered the county records were missing - had been taken to Denver.
The organizers fled taking all the county records.
August 1893 - the Pecos flooded and destroyed the work that had been done on the irrigation project
1897 - The state legislature then disincorporated Loving county in 1897, and attached it to Reeves County[3]
1897 - The Texas state legislature deorganized Loving County on May 12, 1897 and reattached to Reeves. The Reeves County Commissioners Court then taxed Loving County landowners to pay off the county debt.'[3]
1921 - Oil was discovered. Now people became interested!! The population increased
1930 - population was 195.
1931 - Loving county was reorganized.
1936 - Red Bluff Dam was built across the Pecos on the Texas-New Mexico boundary for irrigation and recreation. This water is saline, thus cannot be used to drink. [3]
1988 - the county piped drinking water to a 500-gallon tank in Mentone for use by residents.

Loving County and Mentone remained generally undeveloped because the land was mostly held by absentee owners, because good water was scarce, because cattle grazing made the best use of the unimproved land. These owners do not living in the county, but vote in each election, ensuring the tax rate is low[3][4]

Government Offices

This is the emptiest county seat Mentone) of the emptiest county (Loving) in the country.

Loving county courthouse.

Loving County is named for Oliver Loving, a cattle rancher and pioneer of the cattle drive who, along with Charles Goodnight, developed the Goodnight-Loving Trail. [2]

190- census for Loving County was 3 people

1893 - 83 votes were obtained to create this county.

Six men from Denver, CO representing the Loving Canal and Irrigation Company of Mentone, Texas came to Loving and possibly had a scheme to defraud landowners. They were going to bring water from the Pecos to Loving county for the farmland.(Poor soil there. 1890 census the county had 3 people. They collected a petition with 150 qualified voters who requested separate organization for Loving County. Review of this, the court approved the petition and held a county election in 1893. County organization was approved. Mentone was laid out by the organizers. Organizers of the irrigation company plus several nonresidents were elected to the county offices.
Soon the organizers of the canal scheme and county officials were gone, as well as the county officials.
According to the New York times article, Mentone has 1 cafe, 1 gas station, 2 roads. It has difficulty seating 12 jurors who are not related to the defendant, the school was closed with 2 students and was costing more than the students. The County jail was moved to Pecos in Reeves county. [4]

Sheriff Billy Burt Hopper ran for office in 2004. [4]After his election he received a letter from a group saying they were Libertarians, who had bought acreage, were going to bring in people, and free the county. He investigated with the Texas rangers, and learned they had an option on some land, but never completed the purchase. He has their names listed on a most Wanted bulletin in his office, if they return to Loving county.[4]

    • Republicans and Democrats all call themselves Democrats and vote in a single primary.[4]

The county has trouble seating 12 jurors who are not related to the defendant. This partly due to Sheriff Hopper who patrols the county in a pickup with two shotguns and an AK-47.[4]He knows the number of Mentone residents (16) and 55 other county residents are spread through the remainder of the county which is salty ground, and has lots of rattlesnakes. There is not much crime due to nothing to steal or damage. [4]


Loving county is 677 square miles, mostly land ( 669 square miles) and 7.8 sq miles is water (1.1%) The Pecos River is the county's Western boundary. The river forms the Red Bluff Reservoir near its NW border with Reeves county, TX and Eddy county, New Mexico. [3]

The land in Loving County is flat desert, with a few low hills. Trees, other grass are only desert shrubs, range grass and cacti, with salt cedars along the river. Elevations vary from 2,686 to 3,311 feet above sea level. The Soil is calichified bedrock and wash deposits of pebbles, gravel, and sand, thus not supporting large trees. [3]

On the East of Loving County smallest county in the Permian Basin of West Texas), is Winkler County, on the south by Ward County, on the west by the Pecos River and Reeves County, and on the north by Eddy and Lea counties, New Mexico. The center of the county lies at 31°50' north latitude and 103°35' west longitude.[3]

The wild animals, are: quail, deer, badgers, javelinas, rabbits, bobcats, coyotes, armadillos, skunks, opossums, raccoons, rattlesnakes, killifish, brine shrimp, and turtles. [3]

Only after a heavy rainfall - does the poor drainage system consisting of playas and dry draws that feed into the Pecos. The rain is 10 inches per year. [3]

Adjacent counties

  • Lea County, New Mexico (north)
  • Winkler County (east)
  • Ward County (southeast)
  • Reeves County (southwest)
  • Eddy County, New Mexico (northwest)


  • Loving is the smallest county by area in the Permian Basin region.

  • Loving county is the least populous county in the United States. Due to the small population, it has a high median income by the head or household Owing partly to its small and dispersed population, it also has the highest median per capita and household income of any county in Texas. It had more housing units in 201o than there were people.!
  • Loving was incorporated twice, first in 1893 and again in 1931. The first organization was effected by a canal company founded in Denver, Colorado, seems to have had some misrepresentation made by founders to the state government.


Texas State Highway 302
Texas Ranch to Market Road 652
  • Education is served by Winkler/Loving school. Loving schools were closed due to 2 students.
  • POLITICS- Loving County only has 1 party - Democrat for both Republican and Democrats. It voted for the Republican candidate in every presidential election since 1972, except in 1992 when the county backed independent candidate Ross Perot. The county also backed a third-party candidate in 1968, supporting George Wallace.
  • Drinking water - the 100 residents of the county haul water from a community tank.[3] Now the county has its own well, but even so, water is limited in quantity and quality.Mentone water is so mineral laden, pipes clog and lawns curl up and die.


Loving county had first elected female sheriff in Texas, Edna Reed Clayton Dewees. Dewees was appointed to the job in January 1945, She won an election to continue in the office through 1947. This sheriff never carried a firearm, and reported only two (2) arrests during her entire term. Later she would became the county district clerk, from 1965 to 1986


  • Mentone county seat and only community. It is in SW corner of the county and 75 miles west of Odessa


  • Arno, Texas
  • Porterville, Texas
  • Hayflat, Texas

Restaurant - Boot Track Cafe

Formed From

1874 it was separated from Bexar District, becoming a part of Tom Green County.

County Resources

  • Loving County’s blessings: one elevator, two stop signs, and 674 oil wells. [6] Other blessings: no stoplights and no lawyers.
  • 1936 Red Bluff Dam was built across the Pecos on the Texas-New Mexico boundary for irrigation and recreation. [3]
  • Loving County's economy is based almost entirely upon oil and gas drilling, ranching, and county services.[3]
  • Part of the Haley Ranch, was founded by the father of Texas historian, J. Evetts Haley, is in Loving County, with another portion in neighboring Winkler County.[3]
  • Lonesome Dove, Miniseries, written by Larry McMurtry, starring Robert Duvall as Gus McCrae and Tommy Lee Jones played Woodrow W.F. Call. Writer, Larry McMurtry originally wrote Lonesome Dove as a screen play- Streets of Laredo, which was supposed to star John Wayneand Jimmy Stewart as Gus. John Wayne dropped out. Thus soon, McMurtry rewrote the screenplay into a novel, about the lives of Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving. [2][7]This won Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 1986
  • Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall were made honorary Texas Rangers for their depictions of W.F Call and Gus McCrae. Lonesome Dove won best Miniseries at the Golden Globes and Duval won Best actor.


1890 -- 3 —
1900 -- 33 1,000.0%
1910 -- 249 654.5%
1920 -- 82 −67.1%
1930 -- 195 137.8%
1940 -- 285 46.2%
1950 -- 227 −20.4%
1960 -- 226 −0.4%
1970 -- 164 −27.4%
1980 -- 91 −44.5%
1990 -- 107 17.6%
2000 -- 67 −37.4%
2010 -- 82 22.4%
Est. 2015 112
  • In 2000, there were 70 housing units, but only 67 people, 31 households, and 19 families living in the county. This calculates to a population density of 0.1 people per square mile.

60 of the 67 residents were white. and 7 were Latino (Hispanic).[3]

  • No people below poverty line here in Loving County as of 2000!!!!.[3]


  • Oliver Loving
  • Sheriff Billy Burt Hopper

WikiTree Profiles


There are not many cemeteries in Loving county.
Arno Cemetery 1 burial
Jones Cemetery 1 burial
Kyle Ranch Cemetery 1 burial
Porterville cemetery 2 burials
Slash Ranch cemetery 4 burials!!


  • Time Richest little county
  • Roscoe P. and Margaret B. Conkling, "The Butterfield Overland Mail, 1857–1869" (3 vols., Glendale, California: Clark, 1947).
  • Robert W. Dunn, The History of Loving County, Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1948; condensed in West Texas Historical Association Year Book 24 1948).

  1. https://texasalmanac.com/index.php?q=topics/government/loving-county
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_County,_Texas
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hcl13
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/25/us/1-cafe-1-gas-station-2-roads-americas-emptiest-county.html
  5. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0009/feature7/
  6. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0009/feature7/
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lonesome_Dove

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