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Sunday, June 24, 2001
Last modified at 6:20 p.m. on Saturday, June 23, 2001
© 2001 - The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Joining of communities led to Lubbock

By JESUS ARENAS
Avalanche-Journal

On a day in December 1890, about a dozen men gathered at a neutral site and made history.

W.E. Rayner led a group of men from a town named Monterey — the present-day Arnett Benson neighborhood — to meet with F.E. Wheelock and his men, who were from Old Lubbock — near present day Lubbock Country Club.

The two groups met halfway between the two towns and agreed to merge the communities.

On March 10, 1891, the town of Lubbock was officially founded. Almost immediately, buildings from both towns were moved to the new town.

The town was named after Col. Tom Lubbock of Terry's Texas Rangers. Lubbock was killed in the Civil War at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862.

The two towns agreed to designate Frank Wheelock as mutual representative, adopt the town plat used for Monterey, move all buildings from both towns to the new one, consolidate the two towns, divide town lots equitably between the two factions and equally share the costs of promoting the consolidated town.

A couple of months later, on May 11, 1891, the commissioner's court accepted bids for a jailhouse. It became Lubbock's first public building and served as the first schoolhouse.

A courthouse also was built that year, and it relieved the jailhouse of being the place for public meetings, church services and school until the following year when a schoolhouse was built.

According to a story published in The Avalanche-Journal on July 4, 1975, Minnie Tubbs was the first teacher in Lubbock.

J.D. Caldwell is credited as being the first merchant to open a store in Lubbock.

However, George W. Singer founded a small store in Yellowhouse Canyon, which is about five miles northwest of present day Lubbock, around 1882. The store was named Singer's Store, and it served as the first post office in the county and the first place where religious services were held.

Singer moved his store to the north side of the town square after the merger, and Caldwell moved his store to the west side.

The increasing need for imported goods created a need for better roads. In the summer of 1891, four roads were built in Lubbock. Each road went out in each direction from Lubbock.

The first town newspaper, the Lubbock Leader, began publication on July 31, 1891. The first issue contained ads for Caldwell's and Singer's stores, a barber shop, stables and a hotel.

By January 1892, there were three mercantile shops and a grain store in Lubbock. Store-sold goods were brought into Lubbock from other towns by way of horse-drawn wagons.

The nearest towns were Amarillo and Colorado City, each about 130 miles from Lubbock. A round trip to each town usually took two to three weeks.

On March 16, 1909, Lubbock was incorporated, and on Oct. 5, 1909, the first Santa Fe Railroad passed through the town.

Goods could be shipped more easily and cheaply because of the introduction of the railroad. The train also allowed people to come into Lubbock and eventually made the town the major retail center on the South Plains.

On Friday May 4, 1900, an "avalanche" hit Lubbock when the Lubbock Avalanche newspaper first was published.

John James Dillard, a local attorney at the time, formed a partnership with Thad Tubbs, who provided $175 to purchase the equipment to publish the newspaper.

In 1908, Dillard sold the Avalanche to James Lorenzo Dow, and in 1922 the Avalanche appeared as a daily except for Mondays. In 1923 the Lubbock-Morning Avalanche began.

Three years later, Dow sold the Avalanche to the Lubbock Daily Journal, which was owned by Chas A. Guy and Dorrance Roderick.

The result became known as the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

On Aug. 9, 1923, the Lubbock Morning Avalanche announced that Lubbock had been awarded Texas Technological College — now known as Texas Tech University.

On Oct. 1, 1925, Texas Technological College opened with an enrollment of 914 students. It was a member of the Southwest Conference until it, Texas A&M, Texas and Baylor merged with the Big Eight conference and began competing in the Big 12 conference in 1996.

Tech immediately brought lots of business to Lubbock and increased the need for even more businesses.

The reopening of Reese Air Force Base, which began as Lubbock Army Field in 1941, also brought lots of people and businesses to Lubbock. Reese was closed on Sept. 30, 1997.

By the early 1940s, several chains had opened stores in Lubbock including Piggly Wiggly, Montgomery Ward, J.C. Penney, Sears, Dunlap's and Woolworth.

These chains slowly began to replace some of the local businesses.

As the town grew, retail businesses began to move from downtown and formed shopping centers.

Shopping centers such as Green Acres at 26th Street and Canton Avenue, Indiana Gardens at 34th Street and Indiana Avenue, Town & Country at 4th Street and College Avenue, now University Avenue, all opened in the 1950s.

South Plains Mall, Lubbock's largest mall, opened in 1972. It is the largest mall in the Texas South Plains-Eastern New Mexico area.

Kmart opened in Lubbock in 1975. Target opened in 1980, and Wal-Mart opened in 1988.

On May 11, 1970, a huge, deadly and destructive tornado touched down at 15th Street and Avenue Q and traveled north through the Guadalupe and Mesa neighborhoods. It claimed 26 lives and injured about 500 people.

The tornado hit The A-J building, forcing the newspaper to publish in Amarillo.

It has been 110 years since the decision to establish Lubbock was made.

In the beginning, it grew quickly, and it continues to grow today.

Jesus Arenas can be contacted at 766-8749 or jarenas@lubbockonline.com


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