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STINNETT, ALBERT SIDNEY

STINNETT, ALBERT SIDNEY (1863–1935). Albert Sidney (Sid) Stinnett, West Texas developer, was born on a farm near Belton, Texas, in 1863 and named for Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston. He grew up in the turbulent Reconstruction era and married Cornelia M. Cobb, daughter of Maj. Robert Cobb, a Confederate Army officer. The couple had three children. In 1905 Stinnett moved his family from Fort Worth to Amarillo, where he became the first in the Panhandle-Plains area to engage in the cottonseed oil and cake business (see COTTONSEED INDUSTRY) and later operated a seed and grain distributing agency. He allied himself with area cattlemen and farmers in their battle for lower freight rates and better rail service. After enlisting support throughout the region Stinnett carried the farmers' and ranchers' demands to the Interstate Commerce Commission in Washington, D.C., where he was successful in obtaining favorable rates and other concessions, particularly for the area beef-cattle industry.

As a leading Panhandle booster Stinnett served as industrial manager of the Amarillo Board of City Development and in June 1919 was elected president of the Panhandle-Plains Chamber of Commerce, which he had helped organize; by that time the chamber represented thirty-one counties. In November 1920 he persuaded voters to approve a bond issue supporting a proposed new city library and auditorium. He likewise envisioned a railroad line connecting Amarillo with the northern plains states. He sold his grain business in 1923 and spent the next two years researching and persuading the Rock Island Railway officials in Chicago to approve such a project. After securing the permit and right-of-way in 1925, Stinnett personally financed the first three months of construction on the new Rock Island branch line from Amarillo to Liberal, Kansas. Then, at the suggestion of Lee Bivins, the city of Amarillo started a department to handle the financing through the Board of City Development. In Hutchinson County Stinnett and a partner, Joseph Williams, platted a townsite on a 960-acre tract just north of the Canadian River breaks, formerly owned by rancher W. A. Starnes. In 1926, with the Rock Island officials and several others, the partners began selling lots and attracting people to the new town, which was named after Stinnett and shortly afterward became the new Hutchinson county seat. For the next three years Stinnett was active in promoting other townsites on the new Rock Island branch lines, including Sunray in Moore County. Stinnett simultaneously worked toward the fulfillment of the Canadian River Project, which called for the construction of a dam on the upper Canadian in eastern New Mexico. As a member of the Arkansas River Basin Commission, he felt that such a dam would greatly benefit the High Plains area. With the backing of Vincent Jones, a civil engineer responsible for the building of several reservoirs in New Mexico, Stinnett presented his case before the president and other federal officials in Washington with favorable results. In January 1924 a preliminary study was done to construct the Conchas Dam, near Tucumcari, New Mexico. Construction for the project was approved under the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935—part of the Works Relief Program. In addition Stinnett pushed for construction of a short-cut highway from Amarillo across Hutchinson County, complete with a combination rail and highway bridge across the Canadian at Sanford, to connect the North and South Plains. He also considered the possibility of using natural gas to generate electricity and produce a sufficient water flow from the South Plains shallow-water belt for irrigation purposes. Stinnett was plagued with failing health during his last year. He fell seriously ill and died at his Amarillo home on January 5, 1935. He was interred in Llano Cemetery, Amarillo.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Amarillo Daily News, January 6, 1935. Amarillo Genealogical Society, Texas Panhandle Forefathers, comp. Barbara C. Spray (Dallas: National ShareGraphics, 1983).

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, "STINNETT, ALBERT SIDNEY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fstck), accessed August 30, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.