Thut, Henry (1846–1925)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: July 1, 1995

Updated: June 22, 2016

Henry Thut, Panhandle settler, was born on May 18, 1846, in Leusberg, Switzerland. He was of an old established family whose castle had dominated the village for over four centuries. As a boy Henry was educated in the common schools, and, having lost his parents at a young age, he took a sailing ship to Australia, where he reportedly sought out land on which to settle. From there he worked his way to America, landed at San Francisco, and traveled overland to New York via St. Louis. With dreams of eventually settling on American soil, Thut returned to Switzerland and in June 1880 married Anna Lang at her hometown, Rheinfelden. The newlyweds, accompanied by Anna's sister Emma, then immigrated to the Swiss colony near Frankfort, Kentucky, where they farmed for four years. Their two oldest children were born there. During that time the Thuts met B. B. Groom, manager of the Diamond F Ranch in Carson County. Groom offered Thut a job on the ranch, which he readily accepted. Thut arrived at the Panhandle in 1884 and befriended the ranch foreman, Perry LeFors, who helped him erect the first permanent home on the future townsite of Lefors. Thut made his own furniture and freighted in lumber from Dodge City. When the house was completed he sent for his family and sister-in-law, who subsequently married LeFors. The Thuts were among the first to buy land from the newly reorganized White Deer Lands Trust (see FRANCKLYN LAND AND CATTLE COMPANY) in 1886. They planted fruit orchards, grew vegetables, and began their own herds of cattle and horses. The family soon grew with the addition of three sons. As a result, the Thuts built a larger frame house, which became a meeting place for cowboys and travelers passing that way. Their hospitality and excellent Swiss cooking became legendary.

When the Lefors post office was established in 1892, it was located in the Thut home, with Henry as postmaster. Thut was also one of the first three directors of Gray County's first school. After the county was organized in 1902, with Lefors as county seat, the family erected the Thut Hotel, a large, three-story hotel just outside of town. Thut also served as county treasurer from 1902 to 1918, and his family played a leading role in promoting the town and county. He died on December 14, 1925, while the town of Lefors was experiencing new life from recent Panhandle oil discoveries. His widow, Anna, leased the hotel and moved to Pampa to live with their daughter Annie, who had married C. V. P. Buckler. Anna Thut died in 1933. George, the oldest son, managed the ranch until his death in 1940; Charles served as Gray county clerk from 1925 to 1971; and Henry, Jr., operated a Studebaker automobile agency in Pampa.

Inez Blankenship, Sketch of the Life of Henry Thut, Sr. (MS, Interview Files, Research Center, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas, 1935). Laura V. Hamner, Light 'n Hitch (Dallas: American Guild, 1958). Elleta Nolte, For the Reason We Climb Mountains-Gray County, 1902–1982 (Pampa, Texas: Gray County Historical Commission, 1982). Lester Fields Sheffy, The Francklyn Land & Cattle Company (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963).

  • Peoples
  • Swiss
  • Business
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Politics and Government

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

H. Allen Anderson, “Thut, Henry,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 07, 2022,

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July 1, 1995
June 22, 2016