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LOVETT, HENRY BELL

LOVETT, HENRY BELL (1858–1940). Henry Bell Lovett, rancher and county official, the son of Eli and Mary E. (Bell) Lovett, was born on September 21, 1858, on a farm near Dallas. From the age of four he lived with his grandparents in Parker County; he received only three years formal schooling, at a country school. In 1876 he joined the buffalo hunting outfit of Murphy and Lumpkin, which operated out of Fort Griffin. He spent that winter cutting cordwood for the troops at Fort Elliott and then resumed hunting. He was elevated from skinner to shooter in the spring of 1877. After the buffalo were killed out in 1878, Lovett again cut wood along Red Deer Creek and the Washita River for use at Fort Elliott and later cut hay on a ranch near Mobeetie. In 1879 he acted as a guide for Henry Rogers, a tax assessor, to locate outlying cattle outfits. During the next four years he worked for various ranches, including the JA, OX,qqv Diamond F, and Bar O, and made two trail drives to Honeywell, Kansas. He registered an S-Bar brand in 1883.

In 1884 Lovett returned to his home in Weatherford. There on September 2, 1885, he married a young widow, Fannie (Hopkins) Long, daughter of James Alvin and Elizabeth Hall Hopkins. In November 1886 the couple moved to Mobeetie. While Henry continued working as a cowhand for area ranches, Fannie stayed at the home of H. B. Spiller, a surveyor, where in 1887 a daughter was born to the Lovetts. In November Lovett purchased a half section of land on Grapevine Creek, southwest of the future site of Lefors, and built a dugout that eventually grew to seven rooms. There he began raising corn and grain sorghum and made extra money by selling buffalo bones for fertilizer (see BONE BUSINESS). The Lovetts' nearest neighbors were Perry LeFors, Henry Thut, and J. E. (Jim) Williams. During the eleven years they lived on Grapevine Creek, the Lovetts expanded their land and cattle holdings. They raised registered shorthorns, Poland China hogs, and Buff Orpington poultry. They usually employed between two and five men. Lovett served as tax assessor for Roberts, Gray, and Hutchinson counties and in 1902 helped organize Gray County, where he served three terms as a county commissioner.

In 1904 the Lovetts' daughter died of typhoid fever. In 1906 Lovett invested much of his cattle fortune in downtown property in Pampa. He purchased four brick business buildings and donated one lot for a new hospital. The Lovetts built a house on Turkey Creek, fourteen miles south of Pampa, in 1917 and later constructed a gray stucco house on Houston Street in town. They divided their time between the ranch and town until 1927, when they leased out the ranch and moved to town permanently. Their fortune increased after 1926, when oil was discovered on their land. The loss of their daughter was partially eased in 1929, when a nine-year-old niece, Mattie Velma Brown, came to live with them. The Lovetts were members of the Pampa First Christian Church, where Henry served as an elder.

During his later years Lovett suffered from poor health that prompted him to seek warmer climates during the winters. He died on January 21, 1940, and was buried in Miami beside his daughter. Mrs. Lovett remained at the house in Pampa until her death on October 2, 1949. Three years before her death she had made a will specifying that the bulk of her estate was to be left in the trust of three civic leaders-Montague K. Brown, Cecil V. P. Buckler,qqv and Walter Purviance-for a period of ten years. It was to be used for "charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes." With funds from this bequest the libraries in McLean and Miami, the Nurses' Home near Highland General Hospital in Pampa, and the Lovett Memorial Library in Pampa were constructed.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Elleta Nolte, For the Reason We Climb Mountains-Gray County, 1902–1982 (Pampa, Texas: Gray County Historical Commission, 1982). Millie Jones Porter, Memory Cups of Panhandle Pioneers (Clarendon, Texas: Clarendon Press, 1945).

H. Allen Anderson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

H. Allen Anderson, "LOVETT, HENRY BELL," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/flo55), accessed December 17, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.