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Dawson County, named for Nicholas Mosby Dawson
was formed on August 21, 1876, but was attached to Howard County for
judicial purposes until February 13, 1905, when separate
organization was authorized. Dawson County's first election to
choose officials and select the county seat was held on March 20,
1905. The contesting towns, Lamesa and Chicago, were only two miles
apart. Lamesa won by five votes, but a movement was already afoot to
consolidate the towns and all businesses and residences in Chicago
were moved into Lamesa. After six years of effort to secure a
railroad, the Santa Fe was built into Lamesa in 1911.
Dawson County is crossed by Sulphur Springs
Draw, a natural trail used by the Indians since prehistoric times
and by the first white men who entered the South Plains. The area
was the summer home of Comanches and Kiowas, who moved from
waterhole to waterhole in a region that white men supposed
waterless. A portion of the future county was included in a Mexican
grant issued to Dr. John Cameron on May 21, 1827. Cameron contracted
to settle 100 families, but there is no record of any attempt to
carry out the contract.
In the fall of 1875 the Twenty-fourth United
States Infantry, commanded by Col. William Rufus Shafter, visited
the area to prepare a report on the local Indians. On October 18,
1875, the company discovered an Indian encampment at Laguna Sabinas
or Cedar Lake, the legendary birthplace of Quanah Parker.
Buffalo hunters, more than soldiers, were probably responsible
for driving the Indians from the area. A surveying party for Texas
and Pacific Railway lands in 1875 reported the presence of thousands
of buffalo, and hunters moved in. As cattlemen learned that the
grass on the Plains would produce fat cattle.
[Excerpted from Leona M. Gelin and Mark Odintz, "DAWSON
COUNTY," Handbook of Texas Online; Published by the Texas State
and Other Populated Areas