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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 Concepción 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 experiment.

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 contain cattle.

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 County.

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Surrounding Counties


Gaines County (north)
Martin County (east)
Midland County (southeast)
Ector County (south)
Winkler County (southwest)
Lea County, New Mexico (west)

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