Don’t Open Your Mouth if You Don’t Know the Facts

Images from the Mallet Ranch include: Top left: David Murrah and Karl Komastu checking out the 1947 Buick. Top right: Interior of 1947 Buick. Middle: View of the oldest structure in Hockley County – The Devitt Home. Bottom left: Interior view of the original main room. Bottom right: Beadboard closeup.

Note: Ginny Phillips and I worked on saving the historic Mallet Ranch Headquarters in southwest Hockley County for over two years. As a scholar and researcher, I covered all my bases with my research and we went above and beyond in showing why this historic site was important to preserve in situ. We published a book on the entire project, stood on the Texas State Capital steps touting this site to 100s of people, to presenting the research at various venues. The preservation project entailed preserving all five historic structures and restoring the 1947 Buick, along with building an outdoor classroom to teach both cultural and natural history.

It recently came to our attention via the small world we all live in that severe vandalism has occurred at the Mallet Ranch headquarters. This is heartbreaking because the headquarters was a unique site that includes some of the oldest structures in the county. The oldest being a three-room section of the DeVitt Home built in 1895, with the next oldest structure being the bunkhouse. Beadboard is a dead giveaway in early structures on indication of age.

A 1947 Buick had sat in the garage in near perfect condition since the 1980s is demolished. The car was Christine Devitt’s and was inherited by her niece. Yes – wood rats had built a nest under the hood, but that was as far as they got and they had long abandoned the nest. The interior itself was dusty, but not the accumulations one would think sitting there for over 30 years. The gauges were intact and the seats were just worn due to use. The trunk was perfect. It was Ron Presley, Professor at South Plains College (SPC) that instilled the idea in me to allow the students at SPC to restore the car, possibly drive it in regional parades, and allow it to remain sitting in the garage as a testament to Christine’s frugal personality.

It devastates our hearts knowing how unique this place was and that it could’ve been preserved and used for education. Its surreal protection from the winds, storms, ice, etc. is no match for vandals. Yes – we do believe something was there protecting the headquarters.

As usual in small communities, conversations are overheard in various places, i.e., restaurants, standing in line at Wal-Mart, small shops, etc. It is disheartening to hear the local history of such a wonderful historic place being discussed with complete misinformation.

While it’s humbling that the community has not forgotten the Mallet Ranch it is disappointing to hear people conveying its historical significance with all the wrong information with the fervor they are 100% accurate. Knowing the facts requires referencing the original people who did the research on any history, especially in this case of the Mallet Ranch, i.e., David Murrah and Christena Stephens. Both would welcome to share their knowledge.

If you feel strongly about preserving history the first thing a person or group should do is get their history and facts accurate before passing along the information. This is how we lose our truthful history. It’s fine to converse about history because discussion keeps it alive, but don’t exude that what you are saying is accurate unless you are 100% sure.

Hopefully, the barn owls still use the buildings, along with a porcupine or two. Maybe just maybe the bobcat still saunters through the Devitt Home ensuring that all remains safe and in order.

Photographs – ©Christena Stephens Photography and ©Ginny Phillips Photography