HUSELBY HOUSE RESTORATION PROJECT

Picture of the Huselby house as it was on the ranch Picture of the Huselby house at its new site at the museum

Huselby House on Ranch

Huselby House at Museum Site

The Old Mobeetie Texas Association needs financial help to restore the 1898 ranch home of Mark and Mary Lou Huselby. If you want to help make this project a reality, please send your contributions, no matter how small or large to: Mobeetie Jail Museum, P.O. Box 66, Mobeetie, TX 79061. The story of Anglo Settlement in the Texas Panhandle is told by the life of Mark Huselby since he arrived in the Panhandle in 1874 with General Nelson A. Miles during the Red River Indian War. Through the restoration of his home, a visitor to Mark Huselby’s home can understand the trials and tribulations of living in the Panhandle of Texas.

The Huselby House is the two story ranch house built in 1898-99 by Mark and Mary Lou Huselby, prominent pioneers of the Texas Panhandle. Mark Huselby was born February 6, 1854 in Shropshire County, Overhampton, England. He came to the United States at the age of 16, arriving in New York City on December 27, 1869. He came by ship with his parents, two brothers and four sisters, eventually settling in Kansas. By 1874, he was serving in the 6th Cavalry, stationed at Fort Dodge, Kansas during the Red River Indian War of 1874. Mr. Huselby first came to the Panhandle in December of 1874, with 4 companies of the 6th Cavalry as a cook, having Christmas dinner on Commission Creek. The soldiers camped on the Washita River in Hemphill County for two months before moving to Camp Cantonment in Gray County until May of 1875 when the site for Fort Elliott was selected in Wheeler County. Huselby was Sergeant of the officers’ mess at Fort Elliott. In this position, Huselby showed initiative by planting a four acre garden in the lowland near the Sweetwater Creek. Huselby also started the post dairy. He procured thirty cows which provided milk for the garrison. The availability of milk as well as garden produce was of primary importance to the healthfulness of the post.

Huselby did not stay in the Cavalry long. He found many business opportunities in the newly opened Panhandle. In 1879, when Wheeler County was organized, Mark Huselby was elected Wheeler County Tax Assessor, the first Tax Assessor in the Texas Panhandle. He served in this position until 1908, when the county seat was moved to Wheeler, Texas. By 1880, he filed on a section of land fourteen miles southwest of Fort Elliott and laid the foundation for his ranch which grew to fourteen sections. On this ranch , beginning in 1884, he grew cabbage, one head weighing 28 pounds. Wagon loads of cabbage were sold to Fort Elliott where it was made into sauerkraut for the soldiers. Huselby brought the first well drilling machine and the first hay baler to the Panhandle.

Huselby’s business interests in town centered on his hotel, The Huselby Hotel, the second hotel built in Mobeetie. It was an 18 room structure, with eight rooms constructed of rock in the back, the front two story portion constructed of pine shipped in from Dodge City. The hotel had a wide front porch which was unusual for the time. A unique feature of the hotel was the use of buffalo robes on the beds. The hotel was usually a busy place during rush seasons such as Court weeks and tournaments (social events that were precursors of today’s rodeos). Business was so good that as the rooms were filled, many cowboys brought their own bedding and slept on the dining room floor.

On May 5, 1888, Mark Huselby married Mary Lou Seese. Mary was born in Scott County, Illinois on December 27, 1869, the same day Mark Huselby arrived in New York City. As a child, Mary moved with her parents to Sullivan County, Missouri and then to Hazleton, Kansas at age 14. In 1885, the Seese family moved to Texas and lived on Wolf Creek in front of the 7K ranch headquarters. In 1886, the family moved to Mobeetie. After marrying in 1888, Mark and Mary lived at the Huselby Hotel for ten years. Both of their children were born in the hotel. Mrs. Huselby ran the hotel. The cowboys called her Aunt Lou and the wonderful food, buffalo robes on all the beds, and the hospitality made the hotel a popular stopping place for lonely young men and other travelers through the Panhandle.

On May 1, 1898, a tornado destroyed the hotel as well as most of the town of Old Mobeetie. The Huselbys moved into a picket house on the ranch to live during the summer while the Huselbys gathered the lumber of the Huselby Hotel scattered by the tornado, and from the best, built the living room and dining room of the ranch house. To these rooms they later added a stylish two story 4 room addition, kitchen, bathroom, and laundry and utility room. The ranch house featured central heat from a coal fired boiler in a cellar under the kitchen. The original duct work is still in use in the house. The home was also lighted by carbide lighting prior to electricity. The original doors and window casements are in place as well as a double door ice box. Two leaded panes of glass are still in place in the windows in the downstairs front rooms.

The home was very elegant for its time and many of the guests at the house were the prominent early settlers of the Panhandle. Their home was much like the hotel - always full of guests made welcome to stay as long as they liked. Mr. and Mrs. Huselby were eager to see the area grow. Prominent lawyers, cattlemen, railroad men, oil speculators and ministers stayed with the Huselbys through the early years of the development of the Panhandle. Mrs. Huselby constantly ordered books on each new invention and had many installed in her home. Mr. Huselby was a surveyor (he surveyed part of the rail line from Dallas to Houston) and their home was home to most of the early surveyors of the Panhandle.

The Huselbys raised two daughters, Mabel Huselby Arrington and Isabel Elizabeth Huselby. Mabel married John A. Arrington, son of G.W. "Cap" Arrington, former Texas Ranger and second Sheriff of Wheeler County. They had two children, Mark Arrington and Alline Arrington Hayter. Alline Hayter’s daughter, Beverly Hayter Brown, made the gift of the Huselby Ranch House to the Mobeetie Jail Museum for safe keeping and preservation. Mark Huselby died January 16, 1937 at 83 years of age. Mary Lou Huselby died September 8, 1943. Their daughter, Isabel Huselby, continued to operate the west half of the ranch until the 1970s. Isabel Huselby died August 11, 1979.

The house has not been lived in since the 1970s. It needs immediate attention to stop the deterioration from the weather. While many of its attributes are still sound, much of the home’s elegance and examples of pioneer workmanship are dimmed by dirt and lack of care.