Dickens CourthouseDickens County – History and Formation
Welcome to Dickens County. Historic big-ranch county on Rolling Plains of West Texas just below the Cap Rock, created 1876 and organized 1891 from Bexar District. The legend is that it was named for J. Dickens, hero of the Texas Revolution. Research has shown that there was no J. Dickens, but there was James Dempkins so “Dickens” was probably a result of variance in the spelling of the name. Soldier’s Mound near Spur was an army supply camp for General Mackenzie’s forces.

Altitude is 2000-3000 feet, with about 15000 acres on the High Plains in the northwest corner of the county with the remaining lands rolling to broken. Rough Croton Breaks are in the southeast portion. Good ground cover is provided for quail, dove, and small game.

Most of the county was originally land of big ranches – Spur (Swenson), Matador, and Pitchfork. The Pitchfork is the only one still intact, (the others having been broken up into smaller ranches) and has increased in size by adding some of the Matador land to make present total approximately 166,000 acres, (part in King County), Pitchfork celebrated it’s 100th year of operation by the same family in 1883. The ranches, devoted to primarily raising beef cattle ar mostly in rolling and rough lands. The land which lies on the High Plains above the Cap Rock is mostly used for farming as are the the level areas scattered through the county. There is some irrigation with the principal crops being cotton, feed grains and forage crops. Oil production has greatly increased over the past five years. The county has two schools- Spur and Patton Springs (Afton community). The county seat is in the town of Dickens. Spur, the larger of all towns located in Dickens County, is home to several of the county’s volume employers which include South Plains Electric Cooperative- Dickens Division, Cap Rock Telephone Cooperative, Spur ISD, Dickens County Correctional Center, and several other businesses. Dickens largest employer is Dickens County (Courthouse staff, jail, road and bridge). Afton’s mainstay employer is Patton Springs ISD. McAdoo’s youth are divided between attending Patton Springs and Spur schools. Dickens County is still very much rural with many families living on farms and ranches scattered across the county.

The present population of the county is 2752. It is semi-arid with an annual rainfall of around 21 inches. The people of Dickens County are very kind and courteous with a laid-back “country” lifestyle.


The Texas Cooperative Extension- Dickens County deals in expert, reliable, current information about hundreds of subjects and issues in the broad categories of nutrition and family and consumer sciences, community development, agriculture, horticulture, natural resources, and 4-H and youth development.

The Texas Cooperative Extension program in Dickens County operates as a partnership between Texas A&M University and the local county government. The County agents that staff the Extension office are local residents who serve as subject-matter experts, educational planners, adult and youth teachers and community facilitators. Local citizens serve on advisory committees for each county program. The university system provides access to it’s Extension faculty and resources for the development of these programs. Allow us the opportunity to serve you!

Last update

April 6, 2014 - KLB