Winkler County, Texas

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Winkler County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. In 2000, its population was 7,173. Its county seat is Kermit[1]. The county is named for Clinton M. Winkler, a Colonel in the Confederate Army.

Popular singer and songwriter Roy Orbison was reared in Winkler County. [2]

Part of the large Haley Ranch, founded by the father of Texas historian J. Evetts Haley, is in Winkler County, with another portion in neighboring Loving County.

Winkler County was represented in the Texas House of Representatives from 1993-2008 by George E. "Buddy" West of Odessa. West died on June 25, 2008, and he was succeeded in January 2009 by fellow Republican Tryon D. Lewis, who unseated West in the April 8 primary election.



[3]The first people to live in the area of Winkler County were the Anasazi Indians, who migrated there about 900 and left their discarded pottery as evidence of their presence. These Native Americans were attracted to the area by its water, which was readily available from the interdunal ponds or from digging through to the shallow water table. The first military expeditions entered the area of present-day Winkler County in the last half of the nineteenth century. Captain Randolph B. Marcy brought his soldiers into the area on September 25, 1849, as he searched for the best wagon route to California. Bvt. Capt. John Pope surveyed the thirty-second (32nd) parallel, which separates Winkler County from New Mexico, for possible railroad construction in 1854. On June 29, 1875, Col. William R. Shafter with eighty-one men and officers tracked the Comanche Indians into county lands, when Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie conducted a campaign to drive them from the area. By 1876 all threat of Comanche attack was eliminated, and the area of Winkler County was opened for white settlement. In 1881 the Texas and Pacific Railway was built across nearby Ward County, giving easy assess to the area. With good transportation, with the land outside the dunefields covered in tall grasses, and with a good water supply available, the area was well equipped for open-range ranching. A few ranchers took advantage of free state land to carve out large ranches. Among those first ranchers were John Avary, J. J. Draper, and the Cowden brothers—Doc, Tom, and Walter.

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