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|The county was formed
from Bexar County on August 21, 1876, a year after the first
detailed explorations made by Col. William R. Shafter from his
military base at Fort Concho. The county was named for Richard
Andrews, a hero of the Texas Revolution who was killed at the
battle of Concepcin in 1835. Subsequent boundary alterations
occurred in 1902, 1931, and 1932. For administrative purposes
the area was placed within the jurisdiction of Shackelford
County in 1876, within the Howard Land District from 1882 to
1887, and within the Martin Land District from 1887 to 1891.
The area was placed within the jurisdiction of Martin County
from 1891 until 1910, when Andrews County was formally
organized with Andrews as its county seat.|
In 1886 O. B. Holt first filed on
county lands, although the huge Chicago Ranch, founded by
Nelson Morris, a Chicago meat packer, purchased 228,000 acres
in the southeastern corner in 1884. The county's aridity and
its lack of surface streams encouraged novel rain-making
experiments in 1891 by the United States Department of
Agriculture. Sixty mortars charged with blasting powder and
thirty kites suspending dynamite loosed their destructive
forces at clouds while a number of ten-foot balloons, each
holding a thousand cubic feet of oxygen and hydrogen gas were
simultaneously discharged. Despite these notable bombardments
no rain fell locally, although a copious precipitation to the
east and south was, perhaps, a result of the
After the draughts of 1886
and 1887, Nelson Morris introduced windmills to draw ground
water until he had seventy-nine of the wind machines spaced on
his ranch. Morris also introduced barbed wire drift fences to
In 1894 the Scharbauers
purchased the Wells Ranch, which with Morris's C-Ranch
occupied most of the eastern part of the county. A year later
the Texas legislature passed the four-section law, which
helped to end open-range ranching in Texas by encouraging the
breakup up of great ranches for the benefit of homesteaders
and small tract purchasers.
In the early 1880s the
building of the Texas and Pacific Railway through Midland,
Midland County, the supply point of Andrews County, gave
promise of future growth. The railroad promoted immigration
and had millions of acres to offer settlers. But since there
was plenty of land in West Texas with better access to
transportation than Andrews County, the population grew
slowly; the census showed only twenty-four residents in 1890,
and as late as 1900 only eighty-seven people lived in Andrews
Cities and towns
* Andrews *
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