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TRUJILLO, TX

TRUJILLO, TEXAS. Trujillo was an early frontier settlement on Trujillo Creek about eight miles upstream from the creek's junction with the Canadian River in western Oldham County. About 1876 Jesús María Trujillo arrived from the mountains near Las Vegas, New Mexico, with his family and his flocks of sheep. He employed pastores and several carreteros to construct a stone and adobe plaza consisting of a corral five feet high and 100 feet square, a long house with six rooms, and several smaller outbuildings just south of the main house. In addition, the herders built crude rock dwellings for their own use at various canyons and mesas and along the creek away from the plaza. Trujillo's enterprise, however, was short-lived, for within two years a drought compelled the settlers to return to the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. In September 1878 the brothers Charles and Frank Sperling, who had immigrated from Germany, set up a frontier store, saloon, and trading post at the abandoned plaza. Their application for a post office was approved, and on November 14, 1878, Charles received his official appointment as postmaster. Trujillo soon became a favorite stopover on the mail line from Fort Elliott to Las Vegas. John Atkins opened a small hotel nearby. Twice each year the Sperlings traveled to Las Vegas for groceries, whiskey, and other supplies for their store and bar, which played host to pastores, drifting cowboys, and stagecoach passengers. In 1880, when Oldham County was organized, Frank Sperling was appointed commissioner of its fourth precinct, but because of the growing influence of William McDole Lee he resigned that position on June 28, 1881. The Trujillo community prospered until 1882, when Lee began buying up all the plazas along the Canadian to build up his LS Ranch cattle empire. Among other acquisitions, he bought, and later dismantled, the Sperling store. The post office remained in operation, with Harry McGahey as postmaster, until November 3, 1885. In 1988 only the stone ruins of the old Trujillo plaza and the herders' small houses remained in the vicinity, which was owned by the Trujillo Cattle Corporation.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Arthur Hecht, comp., Postal History in the Texas Panhandle (Canyon, Texas: Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, 1960). Oldham County Historical Commission, Oldham County (Dallas: Taylor, 1981). Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Panhandle Pilgrimage: Illustrated Tales Tracing History in the Texas Panhandle (Canyon, Texas: Staked Plains, 1976; 2d ed., Amarillo: Paramount, 1978).

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, "TRUJILLO, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hvt84), accessed August 27, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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