The Life and Death of Heater, Texas


This here is Heater, Texas, as we found it in the summer of 1843.

The Lost Legend of Heater, Texas

It was so hot that the sun felt like you might could reach up an touch it. There was no cool drink of water nowhere, an even if they was, it was hot. It was hot and dusty, and not much else. But they was no Injins, an not cause it twernt too hot for ‘em, but too hot for the game, sept’n rattlesnakes. Nothing to kill. Nothing to eat. Nothing to drink. And there we was, in the high plains of the west Texas Territory in the summer of 1843. I’s about 19 years old then when we moved west from St. Louis.

My name is Friedrich Klein. My older brother Clem and my baby sister, Marcella both got the pemonya an died last winter. Pa an ma come from the old country unt sprict Deutch, but I learnt Amercin from the other kids in Pennsylvania an Atlanna before we come west.

As the sun burnt down on everthin around, an the horses were given signs ah wantin water, the surrounding landscape did not look welcomin. The steady sound of the wagon wheels and the regular hoofbeats of the horses was suddenly interrupted by a snapping sound as a wagon wheel force-follered a split rock what twisted the wheel and busted it. Pa could make or fix most anything on the farm, but on the road, they ain’t no fixing no wagon wheel what had gone over a thousand miles of dirt road or no road at all. It had give up.

You gots to send that wheel to the Amish in Pennsylvania an have em fix it or make you a new one, or buy a new one from Kansas City, but we’s in the high plains desert of the Texas Territory in 1843. Pa got out the front wagon an walked back an looked at that wheel, then turned and walked back to Ma an said, “Sugarfoot, we can’t go on with a busted wheel, so, welcome to Heater, Texas, our new home.” It was really more like, “Liepchin, es kaput! Wilkomin nach Heizung.” An the town of Heater, Texas was founded at that moment. I later told Pa how to spell Heizung in American. An there we was, with two wagons, four horses an four barrels of whisky, an a dog named Fritz. I called him, Pard.

Heater,Texas existed on the west Texas plains and thrived for more than thirty years, as American pioneers moved west. Svenn Vogal showed up right soon after we settled and opened a blacksmith shop across from the Heater Saloon. Svenn unt his wife, Helga only spoke Swedish, but we all figgered it out. Together, Pa an Svenn dug a well, and we had everything a pioneer needed, septin a whore house, an that come next.

The first stage line come through Heater about 1855 an the transformation was immediate. From a saloon an blacksmith shop, water well an the overnight station for travelers, then popped up Nelson’s dry goods an firearms. Then come Elmer’s Tradin’ Post an Outfitters. An then come Lovejoy’s Millinery, an Miss Sally Mae Lovejoy, one real cool drink o’ water.

Well sir, Miss Sally Mae could charm the devil and talk the birds out of the trees. She had charm an grace an a whole lot of other stuff, an come from Atlanna, Georgia. She made the men stutter an the wimmin kick they husbins in the shin for what they was thinkin. Miss Sally Mae opened the Heater Hotel, ‘cause she coon’t call it the Lovejoy Hotel, but when some wimmins come on the stage from St. Louis, the Heater Hotel was popler with travelers an locals alike an was a hotbed of rumor, controversy an corruption. They was morn several dozen gunfights, ambushes, shootin in the back an just plain killin ‘cause a man needed killin.

When the railroad come through, bout ten miles to the north, it bypassed the town, an ol’ Heater dried up an died in less than three years. When the stage quit, everything quit. Miss Sally Mae Lovejoy, what moved on to San Fransisco, took with her, all the money an gold, what come from her an them Wimmins from back east, an them back rooms o’ that hotel.

Now, I don’t think I could find where Heater used to be, but such history an so many stories that will never be told. I hope to preserve some of the heroic stories of our early pioneers.

I come to be known as Dakota Fritz, or Dakota Slim. As I collect stories from the unknown  and forgotten pioneers, I’ll post ’em here for your perusal, a Victorian word we seldom use any more.

Foller this blog an learn what happens next.

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