County Seat: Dimmitt * County Population: 7,449
The Castro County Courthouse was fashioned with sandstone and completed in 1940 in a Moderne style as designed by Townes & Funk.
In her book “The Texas Courthouse Revisited,” June Rayfield Welch provides a colorful description of the county’s initial organization:
The nine residents shown in the 1890 Castro County census were probably the family and cowhands of James Carter, the owner of the 7 Up Ranch. To organize the county a petition bearing 150 signatures had to be presented to the Oldham County Commissioners Court. After the residents had signed, the petition was still short. Travelers were persuaded to append their names, and signatures of relatives who had never visited the county were forged. Finally, some Carter horses were added to the petition: “Billy” Carter, “Jug” Carter, “Blue” Carter.
The county was named for Henri Castro who served the King of Naples, Italy, as consul to Rhode Island. He later became an American citizen and helped the State of Texas secure a $7 million loan from a finance company in his native country, France. The county seat of Dimmitt was named by H.G. Bedford in honor of his Civil War chaplain, Rev. W.C. Dimmitt.
The county’s spirited history, as explained by Welch and other historians, includes the following interesting tidbits:
While county seat disputes were common in Texas, rarely did they result in gunplay. This was the case, however, in the dispute between rivals Dimmitt and Castro City back in 1891. Developer Ira Aten and Andy McClelland got into it on the courthouse lawn, and a plaque commemorates the event today. Thankfully, there were no fatalities.
The early county jail was known for its flimsiness, so much so that one early sheriff used to take a notoriously dangerous outlaw home and sleep handcuffed to him.
The initial county courthouse included an unpartitioned top floor perfect for dancing. Cowboys often climbed a ladder nailed to the side of the building to play poker in the courthouse cupola, which offered the best breeze in town.
The celebrated Jackrabbit Roundup of Castro County took place in 1925. The idea was to round up the pesky varmints, present in plague proportions, and ship them to California, which was jackrabbit deficient. It drew quite a crowd, and while people scoffed at the idea, visitors from neighboring counties were taking notes, just in case it was a success. A corral of sorts was set up; however, the jackrabbits were extremely territorial and didn’t like being crowded. They jumped out of the corral like grasshoppers from a hot skillet. The entire end result was one dead rabbit that had been hit by a club-wielding boy who might’ve mistaken him for a small pi