I’m taking part in the A-Z April Blog Challenge.
Join me every day (except Sundays) throughout April for the next letter in the alphabet and a look at one of the interesting small towns in Texas!
Something different on each Letter of the alphabet!
Turkey is at the intersection of State Highways 86 and 70, on the Burlington Northern line in the southwestern corner of Hall County.
Turkey located just 100 miles from Lubbock on the South Plains and 100 miles from Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle.
The community was first settled in the early 1890’s, was initially called Turkey Roost, for the wild turkey roosts once found on nearby Turkey Creek.
In 1892, a Methodist Episcopal congregation was organized at the home of W. M. Cooper. The town name was changed to Turkey in 1893, when a post office was established there in the dugout of Alfred P. Hall, the first postmaster. Later John M. Gist became the postmaster and served until 1895, when the post office was discontinued.
In 1900 the Turkey post office was reopened, and by 1906 a school district had been established and a chapter of the Woodmen of the World had been organized. A town plat was officially recorded in 1907. By 1914 about 250 people were living in Turkey, which included a bank, a hotel, a general store, and two groceries. A newspaper, the Turkey Gobbler, began publishing in 1919. When Turkey incorporated in 1926, Jess Jenkin became the first mayor, and G. Katzkie and J. B. Miller were elected as aldermen.
By 1927 the town had an estimated 600 residents, and that year a Missionary Baptist church was constructed. A fire department was organized in February 1928, after a disastrous fire destroyed most of the business district. The Fort Worth and Denver Railway built through the town later that year, and on December 17 the townspeople celebrated the arrival of the first locomotive.
With the Fort Worth and Denver Railway arriving, Turkey became an important shipping point for area farmers and ranchers, and by 1929 the town had two banks and about 1,000 residents. An Assembly of God church was built the next year.
The Great Depression slowed growth during the 1930’s. One bank closed in 1933, and the other in 1940; meanwhile, the population declined to about 975 by 1931 and to 930 by 1941. During the late 1940’s or early 1950’s the local economy revived, and by 1950 Turkey included fifty businesses and 998 residents. By 1955 about 1,005 people were living there, but the town began to decline again in the late 1950’s. By 1958 only thirty-eight businesses were reported, and by 1961 the population of Turkey had dropped to 813. Only twenty businesses were operating in Turkey in 1972, when its population had fallen to 680. A 1981 map showed two schools and five churches in Turkey; in 1982 the town reported twenty-three businesses and 644 residents. By 1990, however, Turkey had only twelve businesses and 507 residents. In 2000 the population was 494.
Places to check out
Bob Wills Museum and Bob Wills Day
The small West Texas town of Turkey has welcomed tens of thousands of attendees to the annual Bob Wills Day festival since 1972. Today, preparations are underway to celebrate the event’s 42nd year and, in many ways, the jam-packed tribute to the legendary innovator of Western Swing has itself become legendary. For many, Bob Wills Day has become a pilgrimage, a step back in time and a connection to a history rooted in the cotton fields and expressed in a uniquely American music form; for some, it is a fun-filled festival of dancing and jamming; and for others, it is the discovery of the power of improvisation.This year, the 42nd Bob Wills Day festival will culminate with a full day of activities starting on Thursday Night April 26 and will continue until Saturday night April 28. In honor of the milestone, the popular and treasured venue that has entertained crowds for the last 41 years will be joined by new features, special guests, a parade, a barbecue cook-off and a grand reunion of former Texas Playboys and friends of Texas Playboys. “For some of our residents, it seems like a just yesterday when Bob Wills Day began, and, for others, the festival has been around their whole lives,” says Neal Edwards, president of the Bob Wills Foundation in Turkey. “People from around the world come each year to play, listen and dance to Bob Will’s music and to experience Turkey as a place where it began. We’re excited to be celebrating 42 years and believe this year will be the best! We hope everyone who has been to the festival will return and anyone who is just now hearing about Bob Wills Day will want to experience it for themselves.” You can visit the museum, while enjoying Western Swing greats such as, Bobby Koefer, Joe Settlemires, Jason Roberts, Billy Mata and more. Seating is limited, first come first serve!
Turkey is the hometown of Bob Wills, the famous bandleader, fiddler, composer,
charismatic performer and movie star who fused old time fiddle tunes, jazz blues, country, mariachi and gospel music into Western Swing, one of the few truly American music forms. Western Swing is music made for dancing by a man uniquely in tune with the power of innovation and improvisation. Recognized as a major influence on music and musicians who followed him, Bob Wills is an American icon.
For many, Bob Wills Day has become a pilgrimage, a step back in time and a connection to a history rooted in the cotton fields and expressed in a uniquely American music form; for some, it is a fun-filled festival of dancing and jamming; and for others, it is the discovery of the power of improvisation.In the week prior to the last Saturday in April, much like wagon trains, the RVs, chartered buses and cars with license plated from across the continent will begin to circle the open lots in Turkey! For early arrivals, parking places will be found and temporary neighborhoods will form in every available area. By mid-week, the normally sleepy town will teem with visitors of all ages, many of whom have lodged in surrounding towns, and music will be heard from all directions. In the midst of planned activities like the concerts, fiddlers contest, parade and dances, attendees will visit the Bob Wills monument in the City Park, stroll through the Bob Wills Museum, have lunch at the Hotel Turkey, or meet and greet others to share stories. Many will join in the jam-sessions that pop up day and night in practically every corner of town.
The Old Lumber Lodge has been an extremely popular housing/RV parking site for many years. Stuart Smith, the Church of Christ preacher, renovated the old lumberyard into an old time lodge with unique location in the center of Turkey. The lodge has four nicely furnished rooms, multiple RV hookups and an entertainment room. A stay at the Lumber Lodge will give you the feel of home and will give you the wonderful experience of living in a small town. The turkey people are friendly, country folk and will treat any visitor with kindness and hospitality. The lumber lodge is popular for renting out the entertainment room for festive, western swing jam sessions. If you want to get your sleep on and your grove on, The Old Lumber Lodge is the place to go.
The Hotel Turkey is a historic hotel located in Turkey that originally opened in 1927.The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 24, 1991. The two-story reddish-brown brick prairie school designed structure was built by H. B. Jordan to take advantage of the extension of the Fort Worth and Denver South Plains Railway to the town of Turkey. On June 12, 1927 the building was partially complete when a tornado leveled it. Construction resumed shortly thereafter, and Hotel Turkey opened for business in November 1927.The hotel was located just three blocks from the train depot and provided a meeting room to the traveling salesmen of the day to display their wares to the townspeople. The hotel also became a social center for the community as dances, banquets, and meetings of social and civic organizations took place in the dining room and lobby.The hotel traditionally hosts the musicians who come to Turkey for the annual Bob Wills Day celebration on the last Saturday in April as well as hunters, visitors of Caprock Canyon State Park & people just ‘getting away’. George W. Bush, while still governor of Texas, once stayed at the hotel.
Lacy Dry Goods is a small store located on Main Street in Turkey, Texas. It is owned and operated by Hubert and Delores Price of Turkey. They are 3rd generation owners of Lacy Dry Goods and it was founded in 1927. They have adapted to the times and sell a variety of goods. This small town country store sells everything from “Stetson” and “Resistol” cowboy hats to Brighton jewelry. Wrangler jeans, coats, Bob Wills Day shirts and caps, as well as an abundance of other apparel, lotions, rows of fabric, and household decor are a few of the things you will find here. Lacy Dry Goods has been an essential part of this small town’s history and economy.
Residents say that the sunrise and sunset are the best in the world.
Come back Monday and check out the town of Utopia!