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Lisa C. Maxwell

BYERS, TEXAS. Byers is at the intersection of State Highway 79 and Farm Road 171, two miles south of the conjunction of the Red and Wichita rivers, fourteen miles north of Henrietta, and twenty miles northeast of Wichita Falls in northern Clay County. It was founded by two brothers, Anthony Walter and George Washington Byers, who were partners in a general store in Sherman and acquired over 30,000 acres of land in Clay County. There are several versions of how they acquired the land. One is that Mr. Acers, a large landowner in the area, bought barbed wire on credit with his land as collateral, and when he was unable to pay off his debt the land was forfeited to the Byers brothers. The other story is that the Byerses traded their mercantile business in Sherman for the land in Clay County.

The real establishment of Byers occurred in 1904, when the Wichita Falls and Oklahoma Railway was completed from Wichita Falls to Byers. The brothers donated $15,000 of the $27,924 raised for the completion of the line. They subdivided their ranch, laid out town lots, and established the Tree Ranch. Because the railroad went three miles west of Benvanue, many of the residents moved their homes and businesses to Byers to have access to the railroad, which was completed through the community in June of 1904. Town lots went on sale on June 10. That year Byers received a post office with A. Harris, the owner of the first store in town, as postmaster. In 1905 Edgar P. Haney established the community's first newspaper, the Byers Searchlight, to promote the community, its school, and the "Searchlight Town Band."

By 1906 Byers was a sizable town. Its school had 115 pupils and two teachers, and the town had its first cotton gin. In 1914 the community had a population of 600, the First National Bank, a weekly newspaper named the Byers Herald, several cotton gins, cattle breeders and livestock dealers, and cotton buyers. In addition, a variety of stores included furniture dealers, jewelers, grocery and dry goods establishments, and a blacksmith. The population of Byers remained steady throughout the 1920s, but by the 1930s it began to drop. The town was incorporated by 1940. It had a population of 427 and thirty businesses shortly before World War II. In 1943 the Wichita Falls and Oklahoma Railway was abandoned. By the 1980s twelve businesses remained in Byers. In 1980 and 1990 the population was 510. In 2000 the population was 517. Byers was one of the five school districts in Clay County; in 1990 its school had 136 students.

Katherine Christian Douthitt, ed., Romance and Dim Trails (Dallas: Tardy, 1938). Kathleen E. and Clifton R. St. Clair, eds., Little Towns of Texas (Jacksonville, Texas: Jayroe Graphic Arts, 1982). William Charles Taylor, A History of Clay County (Austin: Jenkins, 1972).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Lisa C. Maxwell, "BYERS, TX," accessed July 08, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlb68.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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