Saturday, November 03, 2007

Midkiff, Texas Receives Texas Historical Commission Mark

This morning at 10:00 am Central Daylight Time (which is, at the time of this blogging, occurring right now!), the community of Midkiff in West Texas is receiving a Texas Historical Commission Mark. Read more here.

There were actually two communities with that name, located in separate counties, but not too far from each other. The first was a general store and post office held in the early twentieth-century home of John Rufus Midkiff, on his cattle ranch in Midland County (the same county where George W. Bush retires on his vacations). John was the brother of my husband's great-great-grandfather, Charles Anderson Midkiff, Sr. Over time, this tiny community became a "ghost town," as recorded in the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas.

In the 1950s, the U.S. Postal Service was looking for a location in which to build a post office that could serve the rural cattle ranch and oil field areas. They picked a Upton County community, Hadacol Corners, and renamed it Midkiff in honor of the cattle ranching family that had pioneered in the Midland-Upton County area; the Midkiff zip code is 79755.

Mary Lou Midkiff, wife of a great-grandson of John Rufus Midkiff, recently wrote an interesting, well-researched and carefully cited book, Midkiff: A Texas Family, Town and Way of Life. Much of her material came from a trunkful of letters that was found in an outbuilding on the family ranch, which were written mainly by or to John's son Thomas "Oscar" Midkiff, Sr. By piecing together the family history with local history, Mary Lou has written a superb non-fiction account of the American West and of true cowboy history. Not coincidentally, the foreword was written by Western novelist Elmer Kelton, whose family history parallels that of the Midkiffs', as their ancestors knew each other and worked together. If you are interesting in purchasing this book, please visit Mary Lou's site.