Hereford has several
fascinating historical sites to visit, such as the Deaf Smith County Museum,
the World War II Prisoner of War Camp Chapel, and the Victorian style
E.B. Black House, a Texas Historical Landmark.
The E.B. Black House, a Texas Historical Landmark registered with the
Texas Historical Commission and the National Register of Historic Places,
is an adjunct to the Deaf Smith County Museum. This late Victorian house
is an excellent example of early West Texas residential architecture.
Built in 1909 by Mr. and Mrs. E. B. Black, this house served as the family's
home until it was given to the Deaf Smith County Historical Society and
Commissioner's Court in 1972. The Black family specified that the house
was to be used for the benefit of the community. The lovely grounds include
a flower garden complete with an elegant, old-fashioned gazebo - an excellent
location for bridal portraits or weddings. Today, the beautifully restored
home serves as a place for private parties and receptions as well as for
clubs and organizations to hold group meetings. Reservations for use are
made through the Deaf Smith County Museum.
SMITH COUNTY MUSEUM
Deaf Smith County Museum began as an effort to preserve the rich history
of this community. Mrs. Bessie Patterson's History of Deaf Smith County,
written in 1964, so inspired local residents that the Deaf Smith County
Historical Society was formed. The County Commissioners of that day saw
the value of preserving the local history for future generations and donated
a county building to house the surviving treasures.
The museumÕs theme, 'How Our Pioneers Lived, Worked, and Played,' is evident
throughout the unique displays.
Indian artifacts show evidence of the first residents of this area. Arrow
points, pottery, tools, and other items from a private collection are
part of the museum displays. The country store makes up another display
area. One of the greatest hardships for the early settlers was learning
to live on the lonely, vast, and sparsely populated plains. The country
store not only offered necessary provision, but also became a social center.
It was a place to visit neighbors, meet newcomers to the region, and get
news from "back home." The chapel is non-denominational. This
exhibit is made up of keepsakes that remain from the first churches built
in the county. It reminds us that a great abiding faith in God's providence
and power to provide came to the plains with the families that settled
here. The outdoor display area is enriched by a completely furnished replica
of the first home in Deaf Smith County, a half-dugout. There were no forests
to supply lumber for houses and no great outcropping of stone to furnish
rock for building, so the pioneers "dug in." These dwellings
proved more than adequate for life on the open prairie. When visiting
the Deaf Smith County Museum, don't forget to visit the lovely Sears Memorial
Garden, established to honor Ruby Kendrick Sears for her service to the
Deaf Smith County Historical Society and Museum. A quiet and beautiful
retreat in the middle of downtown Hereford, this is the perfect place
to rest, reflect, and enjoy its charm.
Other exhibits include: Santa Fe caboose, Historic windmill, Wooden barn,
Hand carved circus, Farm implements, First jail cell
OF WAR CAMP CHAPEL
During World War II, Deaf Smith County became the site for a prisoner
of war camp named the Hereford Internment Area. Covering a section of
land, the camp was constructed in 1942 at a cost of two million dollars.
The first American Military Police Unit arrived in early 1943. Italian
captives arrived in April that same year. By September of 1943, the camp
contained 4,000 prisoners. The location of the camp on the flat plains
served as a deterrent to escape since an escaping prisoner would be easily
spotted. However, one escaped prisoner, Luigi Montalbetti traveled 300
miles toward Mexico before he was recaptured by the border patrol, twenty-seven
days after he left camp. More details and photographs of the camp can
be found at the Deaf Smith County Museum. Today, a water tower and the
chapel memorial are all that remain of the POW camp. In 1955, nine Italian
men responsible for painting the murals in the St. Mary's Catholic Church
in Umbarger (20 miles northeast of Hereford) returned to present a memorial
plaque dedicated to the Italian prisoners. The English translation of
the plaque reads, "In glory and everlasting memory of future Italian
Many thanks go to the Charles Schlabs family for their dedicated preservation
of the campgrounds.