Dickens, TX

By: Edloe A. Jenkins

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: May 27, 2020

Dickens, the county seat of Dickens County, is at the junction of U.S. Highway 82 and State Highway 70, eight miles below the Caprock of the Llano Estacado and sixty miles east of Lubbock, in the center of the county. It is named after the county. The site of Dickens served as a supply point for dugout line camps used by cowboys from the Spur, Pitchfork, and Matador ranches. In 1886 J. H. Edwards set up a camp in the vicinity and was followed by Charles O'Neal and J. A. Askins, who settled in the area in 1889. As others began moving in, a settlement developed near the springs east of the present townsite, and after the United States Postal Department located a post office there in 1892, the settlement officially became known as Dickens. On February 17, 1892, town lots were sold a half mile west of the previous settlement, and during the year Dickens replaced Espuela as the county seat. By 1893 Dickens had a school building, a wagonyard, a blacksmith shop, a saloon, a barbershop, a hotel, and two stores.

The town continued to thrive during the early 1900s; the population increased from 176 in 1900 to its maximum of 500 by 1927. The number of businesses in Dickens remained relatively stable at twenty-five during the 1930s and 1940s. In the 1950s, however, the town lost thirteen of its businesses as well as its school, which was torn down after the district was parceled out to Patton Springs, Spur, and McAdoo. The population, which had been slowly decreasing since the 1940 census, dropped to a low of 259 in 1975 but increased again to 409 in 1980, despite a reduction in the number of businesses. Dickens had nine businesses in 1980. The town remained a marketing center for the surrounding ranches, which include the Pitchfork and Four Sixes. The Dickens County Museum is located in the county courthouse. The nearby Croton Breaks region offers travelers a scenic view of colorful canyons, buttes, and creeks. In 1990 and 2000 the population was 322.

Fred Arrington, A History of Dickens County: Ranches and Rolling Plains (Quanah, Texas: Nortex, 1971). Kathleen E. and Clifton R. St. Clair, eds., Little Towns of Texas (Jacksonville, Texas: Jayroe Graphic Arts, 1982).

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

Edloe A. Jenkins, “Dickens, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/dickens-tx.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 27, 2020

Currently Exists
Place Type
Town Fields
  • Has post office: Yes
  • Is Incorporated: Yes
Belongs to
  • Dickens County
  • Latitude: 33.62127300°
  • Longitude: -100.83680000°
Population Counts
People Year
176 1900
150 1920
400 1930
465 1940
416 1950
400 1960
295 1970
409 1980
322 1990
332 2000
286 2010
261 2019