A Pioneer Christmas — The Tale of Christmas in Wichita Falls from villagers in 1880

Lulu Barwise Carrigan. (Courtesy photo)

By Jessica Crabtree 16

When listening to classic Christmas songs, a picture can be painted of a more meager holiday, surrounded by family, friends much like family, simple gifts, but none-the-less radiant faces.

J.H. Barwise was an Ohio-born farmer, business man and staunch unionist. In 1877 Barwise moved his family of seven kids and wife Lucia Hansel Barwise to Cedar Springs, Texas, near Dallas. In December of 1879, according to the Texas State Historical Association website, after prospecting much of the state, the Barwise family made the move northwest by an ox-drawn wagon, settling in Wichita Falls. Only a village at the time, Barwise was the first permanent citizen.

Upon arriving in Wichita Falls, Barwise stated that God had directed him to the spot. The vision he saw was as he said, “I see a large city, prosperous and with many people. Near me, I see many tall buildings that mark the business section of this city. Surrounding this is a beautiful residence section of lovely homes and paved streets. Here and there are big granaries. Huge factories give employment to thousands of people. A network of railroads accommodates a big export of grain and cotton in the vicinity of the city. People from all parts of the country come and go. There is a brilliant future for this section of the country.”

Barwise would go on to orchestrate a farm and freight service, helping sink the community’s first well. He even initiated the manufacturing of bricks made from native clay in order to supply local construction. As Barwise prospered, he acquired several sizeable landholdings, helping extend the Wichita Falls and Denver City Railway Company through the community. Barwise was elected Wichita County Judge in 1885, serving three different times. His name among Wichita Falls residents was revered and respected.

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