Cotton, Cattle and Coal
The Early Days of Gordon
The southern Palo Pinto County town of Gordon has a unique history. The town was strategically designated by the Texas and Pacific railroad in 1874 to bolster the use of their railroad, which was in its planning stages at the time. The town got its name from the man who initially surveyed the town site, civil engineer H.L. Gordon.
One cannot accurately tell the history of Gordon without first mentioning the towns of Hampton and Hoxie. The town of Hampton was located a little over a mile north of present day Gordon. Early written works put Hampton being settled around the year 1864. Hampton was a wood structured town that was on the frontier of Indian raids. A post office opened its doors in 1879 with Robert H. Rogan appointed as post master. Mr. Rogan and a Mr. Cotney were early town businessmen. Jess Neblet was the first merchant selling groceries and dry goods in town. On the religious front, the First Baptist Church of Hampton was organized 1879 with the Methodist Church following suit a few months later.
The community of Hoxie was located a couple of miles due east of Hampton at the foot of the Clayton Mountains. When Texas and Pacific surveyors came through the area in the 1870’s they discovered a good burning grade of coal at Hoxie. Within ten years the town of Hoxie was renamed Coalville and it became the primary source of coal for the Texas and Pacific railroad as it made it’s way through southern Palo Pinto County. This occurred between the years 1880 and 1881. The new railroad was part of largest single expansion of the Texas and Pacific system linking Fort Worth to Sierra Blanca.
As soon as the railroad made its way through Gordon a depot was constructed. Capt. John Ayers served as the first agent of the depot. The depot served as the center of activity in the town for many years
Coal from Coalville was shipped to Gordon for use on the railroad, which helped to bolster the early days of the settlement. Gordon began to grow rapidly and the townsfolk of Hampton realized that the best thing for their community was to merge into Gordon. Those early day town leaders included the likes of Albert Lusk, Ben Foster, Jess Neblet, Jim Moore, John Moore, Tod Wood, Alf Beckham, Jasper Odan, Jeff Cowden, Dock Abels, and Up Self.
By late 1881 Hampton was full swing in the process of relocation to the railroad town of Gordon. Records indicate that the First Baptist Church relocated to Gordon in late 1881 and the Methodist Church made the move in early 1882. The first independent school in Gordon opened its doors in 1882 with Mollie Shelton as the school’s first teacher. The Hampton post office was one of the last official relocations when it was moved to Gordon reopening there on Oct 17, 1883.