Ector County, Texas Genealogy & History

Smith Chapel, Texas

Smith Chapel was located at an unknown point about twelve miles northwest of Odessa, Texas, in central Ector County. It was the setting for a school and a union church, as implied by its name. In 1906 R. W. Smith and Teague Baker, who owned adjoining ranches in Ector County, determined to provide a school for their community and built an 8-foot-by-10-foot one-room school in Baker’s pasture. They hired a teacher for $15 per month, with room and board. In 1908 the two men built a larger school at the cost of $450, but they needed funding to maintain it and decided to turn their ranch school into a public one. The two ranchers and an unidentified cowboy signed a petition for the organization of Baker School District to the county commissioners and held the required election for trustees. They opened the polls from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., but only the three of them came to vote. When they closed the voting, they announced themselves elected trustees and returned the papers to the courthouse the following day. The ungraded school at Smith Chapel in Baker School District No. 5 enrolled only five students with one teacher for a 160-day term in 1907-1908. In 1908-1909 term, the ungraded school had 12 pupils and one teacher. The school continued to hold sessions until 1921 when all Ector County school districts were consolidated into one district with one school in Odessa. No post office existed at Smith Chapel, Texas.

Sources: Ed Bartholomew, The Encyclopedia of Texas Ghost Towns (Ft. Davis: Privately published, 1982), 96; State Department of Highways and Public Transportation, General Highway Map of Ector County, Texas, revised 01 Nov 1986, labeled the Smith triangulation point, east of Farm Road 1936 and west of U.S. Loop 385; Tracy Byers, “History of Education in Ector County,” Odessa, Texas (n.p.: Texas Permian Historical Society, 1961), 21-23; Charles Deaton, Texas Postal History Handbook (Houston: by author, 1980), 179.