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MOUNT BLANCO, TX

MOUNT BLANCO, TEXAS. Mount Blanco is on the Caprock escarpment off Farm Road 193 fifty-five miles northeast of Lubbock in northern Crosby County. It was named for a nearby mesa, which in turn derived its name from Blanco Canyon to the west. The community was the site of the first permanent settlement on the West Texas plains. In an 1872 expedition designed to drive the Comanche Indians onto a reservation in Oklahoma Territory, the Fourth United States Cavalry under Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie mapped a trail running through the Mount Blanco site, thereby opening the way for adventurers to move in. In 1876 Charles Tasker of Philadelphia and a partner named Jamieson or Jamison directed Henry Clay Smith, a Fort Griffin businessman, to determine a suitable location for the establishment of a great cattle ranch. On the recommendation of Smith, Tasker chose to establish his ranch headquarters at Mount Blanco, at a spot he named Hacienda Glorieta. In the summer of 1877 Smith, who became affectionately known as "Uncle Hank," drove in 500 to 600 head of cattle, and the following spring began construction on the Rock House, a two-story ranchhouse with walls twenty-two inches thick, built of stone blocks hewn in Blanco Canyon. Tasker abandoned the project, however, because of financial difficulties, and Smith, who had lent him $11,000, took over the house and ranch as payment on the debt. In the fall of 1877 Smith moved his family to the ranch, where they set up residence as the first permanent settlers in Crosby County. The rock house was on the military trail, at that time the only road across the Llano Estacado. The nearest post office was at Fort Griffin, 175 miles away, and to remedy this situation, Hank Smith had his house designated the Mount Blanco post office in 1879. Mrs. Smith (Elizabeth Boyle), the first postmistress, served for thirty-seven years, until 1916.

In the early period school districts were not given names, but it is believed that Mount Blanco was Crosby County's District No. Two, whose boundaries were defined on June 14, 1877. In 1913 the one-room school at Blanco Canyon was moved to a location eight miles northeast of the rock house. A new school, which was built in 1916 and later enlarged, also served as a community center and church meetinghouse. After the school district voted on September 27, 1949, to consolidate with Crosbyton, the Mount Blanco community began to decline sharply. It was finally dissolved in 1965, when members of the Missionary Baptist Church, established at Mount Blanco in 1918, voted to disband. In 1989 the only business remaining on the site was the gin, which began operation in 1957. For years the West Texas Pioneers' and Old Settlers' Reunion was held at the rock house in what is now known as the Hank Smith Memorial Park. The house, however, burned in 1952, and only the walls remain standing. A replica of the Hank Smith rock house containing collections from the Smith family can be seen at the Crosby County Pioneer Memorial Museum in Crosbyton.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Crosby County Pioneer Memorial Museum, A History of Crosby County, 1876–1977 (Dallas: Taylor, 1978). Crosbyton Golden Jubilee, Blanco Canyon Cavalcade: Official Souvenir Program (Crosbyton, Texas, 1958). Verna Anne Wheeler, A History of Crosby County (MS, Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University).

Mary L. Cox

Citation

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

Mary L. Cox, "MOUNT BLANCO, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hrm54), accessed April 19, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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