Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

May 6, 2013

Reflections - of a tour...

Mineral Wells Index

— I don’t know where you were a week ago Saturday, but we were all over Palo Pinto County. And we had a ball! We went to Palo Pinto County on Tour.

The day was wonderful. One of the few almost perfect Texas spring days. The temperatures were warm but not hot, the sun was out but not burning, and the Palo Pinto County Historical Commission put on a beautiful exhibition of some of the most historical sites in the county, along with all the beauty God created along the way.

The wildflowers were at their peak, and the greens in all the trees were breathtakingly beautiful. We could truly say, “The is the day the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” And we were.

We began with Lovers Retreat west of Palo Pinto, just off of US Highway 180, situated on part of the old Bankhead Highway. Now, you may be surprised, but we have never been there, and we were astounded with its beauty.

The name originally came, in one story, because a settler named Lovers who settled in Golconda, the first name of Palo Pinto, was out chasing stray cows when Indians spotted him.  He was able to hide from them in a cave above Eagle Creek near a spring. He was successful in eluding the Indians.  

The land was purchased by the Barney Carter family in 1932 is now in the hands of a Carter descendant, Mrs. Eloise Beckworth Davidson.  Her son, veteran Carter Beckworth, is buried on the land very near the creek.

From Lovers Retreat we traveled to Johnson League Ranch off Highway 919, about 5 miles north of the town of Gordon. It was owned in 1880 by brothers William Whipple Johnson and Harvey Johnson, who were instrumental in the discovery of coal in Thurber in 1887, as well as being the first settlers of Strawn.

This land was part of the John Bird League Survey of 1850 and was the first deeded land in Palo Pinto County. When the Johnsons purchased the league, or 4,200 acres, it was named the Johnson League Ranch. It was sold in the 1940s to Claude Allen, and A.D. Crawford inherited it in 1960. Today it is a working cattle ranch owned by the Crawford family.

Another historical ranch we visited was the Belding Ranch off Highway 16 near Possum Kingdom Lake. Henry Belding settled there in 1859 with his wife, who was Oliver Loving’s niece. The core of the ranch home is the remains of the log house first built there. It is one of only five long cabins still in Palo Pinto County, and the Belding family owns the property to this day.

Other sites on the tour included the Opal Guest Chapel in Strawn which was built in 1917; the Strawn Historical Museum; and the Stuart Estate, a home which united the  Strawn and Stuart families who settled in Strawn from Missouri.

Also on the tour was the newly created Palo Pinto Mountain State Park on the shore of Tucker Lake, Strawn’s local water supply built in 1937.

All-in-all Raf, his sister Mary, and I had a wonderful day, and we surely look forward to doing it next year! Come join us!