Founding of Eunice

[Transcribed from the 60th Anniversary Collector’s Edition of the Lea County Fair and Rodeo program for the event held August 5-12, 1995]

The early settlers to the Eunice area would have been the Daugherty brothers whose “84” Ranch headquarters was two miles east of what would become the town of Eunice. Before this time however, ex-buffalo hunters Barney and Jim Whalen claimed the area in 1885 by digging a well. They sold their water rights to Daugherty in 1886, and the 84 Ranch eventually became part of the Cowden Cattle Company of Midland.

In 1908 John N. Carson of Shafter Lake, Texas came to the area and plowed a furrow around his homestead to make a claim. In 1909, Carson brought his family from Shater Lake and built a home and store. When Carson applied for post office for the area, he listed his daughter’s name, Eunice, at the bottom of the list. In 1909 he received approval along with the name “Eunice” for his post office.

According to historical accounts, the Carson home was a two room and shed house constructed of lumber hauled in from Midland. The general store and post office was also built from lumber. W. S. Marshall carried the mail free of charge from Shafter Lake to complete the federal requirement for the post office at Eunice.

In 1910 after raising the money for the school themselves, a one room building was completed which was on land donated by Carson and Mrs. Mat Downes. There were 23 students that first term and the teacher was Winnie Wyatt. In 1910, the teacher was Jessie Estlack who rode her mule three miles to the school.

In 1910, the Reeders and Norton General Merchandise opened with its stock of groceries, dry goods and hardware. W. F. Turner drilled many of the water wells, established the blacksmith shop and the grist mill. Later he opened a grocery business with L. G. Warlick.

The Carson home was the center for weekly musicals with Eunice playing the piano and Lee Downes and Marshall Drinkard playing violin while Ed Carson played the guitar and Will Grizzell played mandolin. May socials, dances, rodeos and community sings made up the social life of the small community. The school house was the center for church services and picnics. The Methodist, Baptist and Christian Church organized and met in the schoolhouse.

To provide medical care, Eunice community leaders advertised they would provide a four room home and a Model T Ford for rounds if a doctor would relocate to their town. Dr. Wright and his large family accepted. But Eunice citizens were too healthy to provide him with enough income!

The Eunice Plains Democrat started publication March 28, 1914.Legal notices of proved up claims kept it in business because advertising was scarce.

In 1915, the one room school had expanded to three rooms and five teachers were hired. They included Lucille Woodward, Edith Davis Fanning, LuLu Marshall and Ruby Manning.

The blizzard of 1918, the flu epidemic and the terrible drought dealt a hard blow to the small community as it did all the southern plains. The school year of 1922 reflected the hardship when only one teacher was needed for the students. Miss Mettie Jordan came for the 1925-26 term and related that her students ranged in age from 6 to 17.

In 1928, Herman Carson, son of the town’s founder platted the townsite with the Carson Homestead in the center and sold lots in anticipation of a boom if oil and gas speculation continued. He proved correct when that same year the Gypsy #1 State was completed as a gas producer and in 1929 Continental brought in the first oil well in the Eunice area. By 1930 the population was 250 and a railroad spur through Eunice was being built. Oil prices fell with the great Depression, but Eunice rebounded in 1935 with renewed drilling activity. The school mushroomed and in 1934-35 financed construction of the first six brick school rooms.

September 3, 1935 W. S. Marshall, James Nuget and Mr. Emery met to form the village government. April, 1937 Governor Tingley proclaimed Eunice a city. The little ranching community had come of age.