Swisher County, Texas
Swisher County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 7,854. Its county seat is Tulia. The county was created in 1876 and later organized in 1890. It is named for James G. Swisher, a soldier of the Texas Revolution and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence.
|Swisher County, Texas|
The Swisher County Courthouse in Tulia
Location within the U.S. state of Texas
Texas's location within the U.S.
|• Total||901 sq mi (2,334 km2)|
|• Land||890 sq mi (2,305 km2)|
|• Water||11 sq mi (28 km2), 1.2%|
|• Density||8.8/sq mi (3.4/km2)|
|Time zone||Central: UTC−6/−5|
Apachean cultures roamed the county until Comanche dominated around 1700. The Comanches were defeated by the United States Army in the Red River War of 1874. No significant combat occurred in the county. After the 1874 battle of Palo Duro Canyon, Ranald S. Mackenzie ordered 1450 Indian horses shot. The Buffalo Hunters' War of 1876 was an attempt by the Comanches to drive out the white man and stop depletion of their hunting grounds.
County established and growthEdit
Although settlers gradually arrived, the county was dominated by ranching the remainder of the 19th Century. Good underground water at shallow depths gave to windmills that facilitated the stock-farmer.
In 1906, the Santa Fe Railroad branch line from Amarillo came through the county and later connected the county with Hale County, and with Lubbock by 1910, giving Swisher a major north-south rail line and boosting the economy.
The Great Depression had a devastating effect on the county’s economy, somewhat relieved by road work. The stimulus of World War II demand and, particularly, the development of large-scale irrigation in the area, led to the revival of the county's economy.
The first successful extensive local use of underground water from the Ogallala Aquifer came in 1936. After World War II this activity increased dramatically; by the 1980s over 225,000 acres (910 km2) in Swisher County were irrigated.
In 2002 the county had 578 farms and ranches covering 566,429 acres (2,292.26 km2), 69 percent of which were devoted to crops and 30 percent to pasture.
The Ozark TrailEdit
Rural Texas in the early 20th Century was often connected by unpaved routes, often of caliche or other rock and dirt paths. Swisher’s road structure fell into this category. In 1920 the Ozark Trail served as a predecessor to today’s intra-continental highway structure. The Ozark Trail was a highway network maintained by local entities or private citizens from Arkansas and Missouri through Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas, to New Mexico. In Texas the trail was made of graded and upgraded roads. Collingsworth, Childress, Hall, Briscoe, Swisher, Castro, and Parmer counties along with Curry and Roosevelt counties in New Mexico raised $10,000 in 1920 to erect markers along already existing roads to mark the Ozark Trail from Oklahoma across Texas to New Mexico. By the mid-1920s Tulia was linked to Nazareth, Dimmitt, and Bovina by State Highway 86, to Canyon and Amarillo by U.S. Highway 385 (now U.S. 87 or Interstate Highway 27), to Silverton by State Highway 80, and to Plainview and Lubbock by U.S. 385.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 8,378 people, 2,925 households, and 2,152 families residing in the county. The population density was 9 people per square mile (4/km²). There were 3,315 housing units at an average density of 4 per square mile (1/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 71.75% White, 5.85% Black or African American, 0.54% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 19.41% from other races, and 2.28% from two or more races. 35.22% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 2,925 households out of which 35.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.20% were married couples living together, 9.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.40% were non-families. 24.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.15.
In the county, the population was spread out with 27.90% under the age of 18, 10.30% from 18 to 24, 25.50% from 25 to 44, 20.40% from 45 to 64, and 15.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 109.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 111.30 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $29,846, and the median income for a family was $34,444. Males had a median income of $25,164 versus $20,448 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,326. About 14.20% of families and 17.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.20% of those under age 18 and 11.90% of those age 65 or over.
Whereas the counties to its north in the Panhandle proper became overwhelmingly Republican at a Presidential level with Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s, Swisher County continued to favour the Democratic Party for another four decades, even being narrowly won by Walter Mondale in 1984 when he came within 3,819 votes of losing all fifty states. During the twentieth century the only Republicans to carry Swisher County were Herbert Hoover in 1928 due to intense anti-Catholic sentiment against Al Smith, Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, and Richard Nixon in 1972.
Like the rest of the Bible Belt, due to opposition to the Democratic Party’s liberal positions on social issues Swisher has trended powerfully Republican and in the last five elections the Republican nominee has won more than 64 percent of the vote – over seven percent more than Nixon won in his 3,000-plus-county landslide in 1972.
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