Frye, Henry (1851–1941)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

Henry Frye, rancher and Wheeler County pioneer, was born on October 6, 1851, in Rochelle, Virginia, the son of a Presbyterian minister. At age twenty-one he moved to Austin, Texas, where he worked as a wheat harvester. He used his earnings to buy cowboy equipment and went to work on the Chisholm Trail. In 1874 Frye joined William J. (Bull) Miller in herding cattle up the trail to Kansas, where he met Miller's thirteen-year-old daughter Lula. He married her in 1877 and left by wagon for the Texas Panhandle.

In July 1877 the couple settled in Hemphill County, where they ran 200 heifers for Lula's father. They lived in a half dugout on the Washita River but later built a two-room picket house, which Lula carpeted with towsacks. From the original herd of 200 head, Frye received one-half of the increase. He registered his Campstool brand in 1880. In 1879 he was among those who petitioned to organize Wheeler County; he also served as a juror. In 1882 he sold his Hemphill County home to Robert Moody and moved his family to a half dugout in Wheeler County. In 1884 he purchased about 1,000 cattle and built a two-room rock house on Sweetwater Creek. The seven Frye children received much of their early education at the Rock community school.

After the town of Canadian was founded in 1887, Frye operated a mercantile store for a short time with his brother, W. E. Frye. Although his primary interest was ranching, Frye played a leading role in Canadian's civic and educational development. In 1897 a post office was established at the Frye ranchhouse, with Lula Frye as postmistress. It remained in operation until 1909. Frye invested in more land and eventually divided the original ranch into smaller farms. He passed the Campstool brand on to his sons Will, Tobe, and Harry, and his daughter Nellie Puryear. Frye's daughter Elizabeth and her husband, Frank Young, bought back the land on the Washita River where Frye's first homestead was located.

In their later years Henry and Lula Frye moved to Sulphur, Oklahoma, where their sons Will and Harry operated a sanatorium and bathhouse. Henry died there on August 14, 1941, and Lula died about a year later. They were both buried in Sulphur.

Sallie B. Harris, Cowmen and Ladies: A History of Hemphill County (Canyon, Texas: Staked Plains, 1977). Sallie B. Harris, comp., Hide Town in the Texas Panhandle: 100 Years in Wheeler County and Panhandle of Texas (Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1968). Millie Jones Porter, Memory Cups of Panhandle Pioneers (Clarendon, Texas: Clarendon Press, 1945). Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876–1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981).
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen

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

H. Allen Anderson, “Frye, Henry,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 09, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995

Currently Exists
Place Type
Town Fields
  • Has post office: No
  • Is Incorporated: No
Belongs to
  • Wheeler County
Associated Names

's Ranch

Rathjen Farm