Presidio County History Written in 1922
Presidio County, formed in 1850, for a number of years comprised the greater part of the Trans-Pecos region of Texas. In 1871 Pecos County was set off, and in 1887 Brewster and Jeff Davis counties were created, leaving its present area of about twenty-five hundred square miles. The county was organized in 1875, and Fort Davis was the county seat until 1887, and after the creation of Jeff Davis County, a county government was established at Marfa, on the line of the Southern Pacific Railway, which was constructed across the north end of the county in 1880. The northern part of the county consists of high. rolling, treeless plains, but a large part of the area is mountainous and there are very few streams of running water. The mountainous districts are chiefly noted for their mineral deposits. and the stock raising industry is confined to the plains region in the northern part. About thirty years ago efforts were made to develop the silver deposits in the southern part of the county, near Shafter, and the Presidio mine in that vicinity has been in successful operation for over twenty years and is the principal metal producer in Texas. In 1911 Texas produced silver to the value of over two hundred thousand dollars, and a large part of it came from Presidio County, The town of Shafter is off the railroad and is a mining camp, with several hundred inhabitants, most of the labor being performed by Mexicans. The oldest town in the county is Presidio, located on the Rio Grande, and which has long been a port of entry and the site of a custom house. Marfa, the county seat and chief town, has a population estimated at about seventeen hundred, is a distributing point for most of the country to the South and North, and is also noted as a health resort, having an elevation of nearly five thousand feet. For many years most of the supplies for Fort Davis, Shafter and other points along the Rio Grande have been hauled out of Marfa by wagon train.
Agriculture is as yet in its infancy in Presidio County, and has been largely confined to small patches along the Rio Grande, operated by Mexicans with small irrigation plants. Recently a dam has been constructed across Alamita Creek south of Marfa, and with the accumulation of flood water it is estimated that about 12,000 acres may be put under cultivation. At the present time the amount of irrigated land in the county is about 1,000 acres, and experiments have proved that alfalfa, wheat and fruit are profitable crops under irrigation. For many years the county has supported large herds of cattle, sheep and goats, and the raising of goats and sheep is increasing, with Marfa as the market for wool and mohair. Besides its silver mines Presidio County has undeveloped deposits of copper and lead, and great quantities of excellent marble.
The population of Presidio County in 1870, when its territory still included all that part of the Trans-Pecos region except El Paso and Culberson counties, was 1,636; in 1880, before Jeff Davis and Brewster counties were set off, 2,873 ; in 1890, 1,698 ; in 1900, 3,673; in 1910, 5,218, including about 3,000 Mexicans ; in 1920, 12,202. The value of taxable property in the county in 1903 was $2,827,572; in 1913, $3,762,793 ; in 1920, $7,109,421.
The total area of the county is 2,439,680 acres, and about a third was included in farms or ranches at the time of the last census. The amount of “improved land” was about 7,000 acres, compared with about 2,500 acres in 1900, and the number of farms was 186 in 1910. Forty-three of these farms were irrigated, and in 1909 the acreage irrigated was 855. The livestock enumerated was 49,191 cattle ; about 4,400 horses and mules, and 4,197 goats ; in 1920, 62,896 cattle ; 3,739 horses and mules. In 1909, 601 acres were planted in corn ; 504 acres in wheat ; and 479 acres in hay and forage crops. – History of Texas, 1922, by W. Barrett Travis.