Why The White Deer Land Museum Is In Pampa

People ask why the White Deer Land Museum is in Pampa instead of being in the town of White Deer. A brief explanation is that the post office at White Deer was established before the bondholders of White Deer Lands moved its headquarters/office to Sutton (Pampa).

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

A longer explanation follows. An old legend tells that in the days when Apaches, Comanches, Kiowas and Kiowa-Apaches roamed this area, an Indian saw an albino deer drinking at a beautiful creek, and the creek became known to the Indians as “the creek of the white deer.” Early Spanish explorers translated the Indian name into their language, “El Rio del Verando Blanco.” The Spanish name was anglicized by American explorers and traders, and that name has been retained. Signs on Highway 152 between Pampa and Skellytown show the name — “White Deer Creek.”

White Deer Creek, an intermittent stream, rises in eastern Carson County several miles north of the present town of White Deer. It flows northward for twenty-six miles to join the Canadian River in eastern Hutchinson County. White Deer Creek is on land purchased in 1882 by the Francklyn Land and Cattle Company. Charles G. Francklyn of New York and London was president of the company and most of the stock was held by British investors. Colonel B. B. Groom, an experienced cattleman from Lexington, Kentucky, and his son, Harrison T. Groom, managed the Francklyn cattle branded Diamond F.

Unfortunately, B. B. Groom’s vision of the finest and most desirable cattle ranch in the United States did not materialize, and the Francklyn Land and Cattle Company became insolvent in 1886. The British bondholders foreclosed and organized the White Deer Lands Trust of British Bondholders. It was appropriate for the trust to take the name of the fertile White Deer Creek valley that had nurtured the Francklyn company throughout its short lived history. White Deer Lands consisted of 631,000 acres in Hutchinson, Carson, Gray and Roberts counties. Because of the Texas Alien Land Law, the actual status of the British bond- holders could not be acknowledged publicly. Frederic de Peyster Foster and Cornelius C. Cuyler, lawyers in New York City, became trustees for White Deer Lands and acted as owners.

Foster persuaded his friend George Tyng to become manager of White Deer Lands. One of Tyng’s responsibilities was to sell the Francklyn cattle as soon as possible — the bondholders wanted to get out of the cattle business and then to sell the land in such a way that the investors would realize some profit from their investments. The original headquarters/office for the Diamond F was on White Deer Creek a few miles south of the Canadian River. When Tyng became manager of White Deer Lands in 1886, the headquarters/office was being moved to a lake in the south- western part of present White Deer.

Tyng moved the headquarters/office to a site two miles east of the present town of White Deer. There, in 1887, he drilled the first successful water well in the area and established a miniature farm to demonstrate that farming was possible in an area that had been considered part of the “Great American Desert.” The same year that the White Deer Lands Trust was formed in 1886, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe announced that its subsidiary, the Southern Kansas Railway Company of Texas would construct a line from Kiowa, Kansas, to Panhandle City. In 1887, the final segment of 50.2 miles from Miami to Panhandle City crossed White Deer Lands on which two stations were designated — Glasgow and Paton. White Deer Lands granted land for these stations.

A post office for the Paton station was established as Whig on December 17, 1888 and changed to White Deer on January 7, 1889. Later in 1889, Tyng began to urge the bondholders to start a town at Sutton (the railroad had changed the name of Glasgow to Sutton) because he believed that it would help to sell land in Gray and Roberts counties. After some delay, the bondholders agreed to Tyng’s request and he began, in the fall of 1891, to construct buildings for the move to Sutton — a boarding house at present 116 W. Atchison and a company/office at present 318 W, Atchison.

During construction of these buildings, materials were often sent to Sutton County in southwest Texas. Tyng complained to the railroad and was told to choose a new name. The chief engineer did not like Tyng’s first suggestions . Then Tyng thought of “Pampa” because the level plains in the area resembled the pampas of Argentina. The railroad changed the name of Sutton to Pampa in early 1892, and later that year, Oil October 29, the post office at Pampa was established. In 1903, Tyng resigned as manager of White Deer Lands and was replaced by T. D. Hobart as agent for the White Deer Land Company (White Deer Lands).

The second land office in Pampa was constructed at 124 S. Cuyler in 1906. The third land office (present museum) was constructed at 116 S. Cuyler in 1916. Hobart resigned in 1924, and M. K. Brown and C. P. Buckler were joint agents until Brown retired in 1935 and Buckler became the sole agent. In 1948 the White

Deer Land Corporation was formed to provide more income for the bondholders. By 1957, most of the land had been sold, and the bondholders voted to liquidate. Brown made the highest bid for the remaining property which included the White Deer Land Building at 116 S. Cuyler. Brown and his secretary, Clotille Thompson, began to plan for the White Deer Land Museum to preserve the history of the area. After Brown died in 1964, Thompson continued to develop the museum where a Texas state historical marker was dedicated on December 6, 1970. Since the museum is housed in the White Deer Land Building constructed in 1916 at 116 S. Cuyler in Pampa, it is appropriate for the White Deer Land Museum to be in Pampa.

In 1882 the Francklyn Land and Cattle Company purchased a huge tract of land that included the western part of Gray County. The company failed in 1886 and was reorganized as the White Deer Land(formally the White Deer Lands Trust of British bondholders), which operated the huge Diamond F Ranch.

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article.

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