Western Trips

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Story of a Texas Town and a White Buffalo

The story of Snyder, Texas begins in 1878 with a buffalo hunter and trader by the name of  William Henry (Pete) Snyder. Snyder came to west Texas from Pennsylvania and went ahead and built a trading post on the banks of Deep Creek. Other hunters gravitated to the post, and a colony of buffalo-hide dwellings grew up around it. These dwellings, as well as the sometimes shady character of their inhabitants they attracted, gave the town its first names, "Hide Town," and "Robber's Roost." Finally, in 1882 Pete Snyder drew up a town plan and invited immigration.

historic buildings snyder texas
Faught Bldg built by T.J. Faught as a Masonic lodge
The Legend of the White Buffalo 

Legend has it that only seven white buffalo have ever been shot. In fact, it is said that there was only one white buffalo per 10 million.

To Native Americans, the bison or American buffalo was a symbol of sacred life and abundance. Indians relied on the buffalo for their very existence using every part of the animal for food, shelter and various tools and utensils.

The white buffalo also has a famous Native Indian legend attached to it regarding following the proper path while on earth and how all things in nature were connected.The legend concerns a White Buffalo Calf Woman and remains very sacred to the Lakota and many other tribes.

One such white buffalo was shot near what is today the town of Snyder, Texas. This particular white buffalo was shot by a man named J. Wright Moore in 1876. Moore's name is also spelled "Mooar". Historic accounts have used both spellings.

white buffalo photo
The white buffalo
It's been reported that Moore may have shot up to 22,000 buffalo during his ten years as a hunter from 1870 to 1880.  Moore shot the buffalo when the small settlement located on Deep Creek was a trading post. J. Wright Moore received such acclaim from this event that he was able to start his own ranch and from it eventually the town of Snyder was established.

For a long time there was a fiberglass statue in Snyder of a white male buffalo. The statue was built to commemorate the shooting. Not long after, someone noticed that the white buffalo hide on display at Mooar's ranch was that of a female.

Upon learning this, the town of Snyder got rid of the fiberglass buffalo as quick as possible and replaced it with a bronze female white buffalo statue. That is the statue you'll see today when visiting Snyder, Texas. In fact, make a note of it, there are three different white buffalo statues today in Snyder, Texas.

There has not been another white buffalo seen around today's Snyder Texas for well over 100 years.

White Buffalo Memorial Park is located near the site of the 1876 shooting, and an adjacent ranch is the resting place of the white buffalo hide. The park is also home to the white buffalo statue #1. The park is located northwest of Snyder on S-CR 253/FM 1609, north of the small town of Union.

j wright mooar snyder texas
J. Wright Mooar

Quanah Parker and J. Wright Mooar

An interesting story concerns J. Wright Mooar and the historic Comanche leader Quanah Parker,  the last chief of the Quahada Comanche Indians.

Both Parker and Moore (Mooar) hunted the buffalo. They also at times hunted the buffalo in the same area around today's Snyder, Texas although there is no record that they ever met at those times. The difference here was that Quanah Parker and his followers were being hunted by the U.S. Cavalry. Parker was the last Comanche holdout and was being chased by General Philip Sheridan and his officers. The goal was to move Quanah Parker and his people back to Indian Territory in present day Oklahoma.

See the Western Trips articles on the lnks below...

The Story of Littlefield Texas and the World's Tallest Windmill

Old Fort Parker and the Formation of Texas

A Visit to Historic Quanah Texas

A World Class Austin Texas Museum

Quanah Parker was eventually defeated by Colonel Ranald Mackenzie at Palo Duro Canyon and was moved to the reservation. Years later when both men became good friends and told many stories about the times they hunted the buffalo and actually knew of each other but never crossed paths. J. Wright Mooar died in 1940 at the age of 91 and Quanah Parker much earlier in 1911 at the estimated age of 62 or 63. Parker's exact birth date is uncertain.

It's important to note that Quanah Parker's father was a Comanche and his mother was a white woman.  Cynthia Ann Parker, Quanah's mother, had been kidnapped in 1835 during a Comanche raid on the family homestead near present day Groesbeck, Texas. At that time, the Parker home/fort was at the outer reaches of the frontier line in Texas. Quanah's Comanche father was Pete Nacona, a Comanche leader who was eventually killed in battle against the Texans at Pease River.

Events in Snyder Texas

Snyder, Texas is located about 85 miles southeast of Lubbock and about 80 miles west of Abilene,Texas, Texas along U.S. Hwy 84. 

Snyder is home to many events during the year. A sample of them include...White Buffalo Days, White Buffalo Bikefest, the West Texas Western Swing Festival. and a spectacular small town Fourth of July Celebration which includes arts and crafts, carnival rides, sand volleyball, basketball, softball, parade, and the big firework display.

snyder texas square
East side of Snyder Courthouse Square
Also, you'll want to stop by at the Scurry County Heritage Village at 900 East Coliseum Dr. Plenty of interesting exhibits including old historic structures and replicas, oil and farming equipment and Engine No. 5, the last steam locomotive belonging to the Roscoe, Snyder and Pacific Railroad. Scurry County was named  after Confederate General Wm. Scurry. 

Another stop to make in Snyder, Texas is the Scurry County Museum. Located at 6200 College Ave, this unique museum displays exhibits and artifacts that tell the story of Scurry County. There are permanent exhibits which are well-maintained, and informative. This museum is a great place for both adults and children and features many interactive displays. In addition to permanent exhibits, the museum also has two galleries that display revolving exhibits.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Western Trips. J. Wright Mooar and White buffalo photos in the public domain)