Other Views of Quanah

Other Views from 1890

Where is Quanah?

Above: Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler (1842–1922). Quanah, Texas. 1890, 1890. Toned lithograph, 10.4 x 19.3 in. Published by T. M. Fowler & James B. Moyer. Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth.

Quanah in 1890 (lithograp)

The fact that Quanah was named for the Comanche chief Quanah Parker testifies to the centuries of Indian presence in the area that became Hardeman County in 1858 and explains why there was little Anglo-American settlement in the area until the 1880s. That began to change in 1884 as the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway worked on the road beyond Wichita Falls. The railroad surveyors laid out Quanah and began selling town lots the following year.[1] The arrival of the railroad in 1887 opened the door to more settlers and by October 1890, when Fowler visited the city, the first stone buildings had been completed, Quanah had been named the county seat, and the population had reached 1,477.[2] According to a local story, railroad crew members, who had established their eligibility to vote by having their laundry done in the town for six weeks, carried the election for Quanah.[3]

Fowler depicted Quanah from the southeast on a relatively treeless and level plain amidst the rolling prairie between the Red River on the north and the Pease River on the south. The street grid is accurately reflected, including the fact that the streets north of the railroad tracks do not match up with the streets south of the tracks, and the names change. Spring Creek cuts a noticeable path along the eastern side of town. The artist correctly pictured the nondescript courthouse (2 on map) at the corner of McDonald and Mercer streets with a courthouse square in the block south of the building. The Sanborn map of July 1892 noted that the courthouse was occupied on the second floor of the building, while the first floor was vacant. The surrounding area was mostly ranchland, and lumberyards (6, 7 and 8) and mills (10) reflect the nature of business in the city, along with the two banks (4 and 5) and the Baptist Church (3).

Fowler’s drawing and lithograph have particular significance as historical documents not only because there were so few photographs made of the city before 1890, but also because the city was struck by both flood and fire in 1891, destroying much of the town that Fowler depicted.