Story of a Small Town: Olton, Texas

“One of the pleasant things about small town life is that everyone, whether rich or poor, liked or disliked, has some kind of a role and place in the community. I never felt that living in a city — as I once did for a couple of years.” ― Edward Abbey.

West Texas is a beautiful area that largely comprises of agriculture lifestyle. With this being said, this part of Texas is largely dominated by the strong presence of small, rural towns. I happen to be from a small West Texas town. Growing up in such a lifestyle has taught me many things. Although it has been an adventure to escape from it, I don’t regret growing up in it. Coming from humble beginnings has taught me to appreciate the simple things in life.

Out of all the projects I could do, I decided to make a project out of my hometown of Olton, Texas. Olton is located at about an hour drive northwest of Lubbock. It has a population of roughly around 2,000 people, and is primarily an agriculture centered community. Even though I grew up in Olton, I felt that doing a project about it would bring more appreciation to the town itself. It would not be hard to find a variety of pictures and stories from a big city, but small towns rarely get highlighted for how special they are. With my grand excuse to go home, I made the easy drive from Texas Tech to my hometown of Olton where I photo documented some important spots.

Documented below, Main Street in Olton is (you guessed it)…the main street. Although there are other streets that have important places such as the school and local restaurants, Main Street is where the prominent local businesses are lined up. Among the businesses on Main Street are Wild Plum Inn Bed & Breakfast, and the Mini Mall.

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As I walked along the sidewalk near the local stores I found some quaint places that made lovely photographs.

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Among the stores I went into, I walked across the street to the local grocery store. The grocery store is named Leon’s II. Why II? Well, Olton’s first grocery store was named after the guy who owned it: Leon. Leon’s was Olton’s grocery store in the 1960s before the business was passed on to other business owners. They renamed the store, and this remained Olton’s grocery store for a number of years. Eventually, the store ran out of business, and for a few years, Olton did not have a grocery store. Nevertheless, the store was taken over to prosper again. To honor Olton’s past, they named the re-opened store Leon’s II in honor of Olton’s original grocery store.

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After visiting the grocery store, I went across the street to another strip of prominent businesses. This line of businesses would include the Olton Chamber of Commerce, the Olton EnterpriseOlton Clinic, Olton Pharmacy, Flourish Flowers and Pizza Parlor.

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The Olton Post Office is small and quaint. It’s funny how the second “o” is a missing on the lettering.

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The Sandcrawl Museum is a unique attraction to get to know Olton’s history. The museum is dedicated to the past and recent history of Olton and the people that make it what it is.

The description on the museum’s Facebook page had an interesting explanation of the Sandcrawl Museum:

“An eminent geologist, the late Frank Bryan, referred to the sand dune formation south of the City of Olton as the Sand Crawl. The Sand Crawl is a relic remnant of the upper Pleistocene Brazos River. The three to twelve mile wide strip of sand dunes extends from Curry and Roosevelt Counties in New Mexico into the western part of Hale County Texas, where it mysteriously ends. Some historic writings also refer to it as The Blue Sandhills. The sand does, indeed, crawl and is helped along by the gusty West Texas winds. The museum, which was once called ‘The Olton Museum,’ had its name changed in November of 1996 to The Sand Crawl Museum to reflect the sand dunes outside of Olton which hold so much of Olton area history.

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Built in the 1940’s, the Roxy Theater once served as the town’s movie theater. After ceasing operation in 1953, it sat empty for many years until Olton citizens decided to raise money and restore it in 1996. The Roxy Theater is now used for musical concerts, talent shows and movies for high school students.

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Olton Independent School District is a public school district with three campuses: Olton High, Olton Junior High and H.P Webb Elementary. I also took pictures of the Olton football field. The football field is iconic because small town football is iconic. The track was recently restored in 2011, and small town pride in sports is seen everywhere.

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Olton may be small…but it has a lot of heart. The town has personality because of the people that are in it. It is a community with loving people and a lot of compassion. One thing is for sure…no matter what I do or what I accomplish, I will never forget my foundation. I grew up in a small, humble community that raised me to be the person I am today. I will never forget where I came from because sometimes the most important things in life are the simple things.

37 thoughts on “Story of a Small Town: Olton, Texas

  1. George Phillips says:

    Nice story. Jenabeth, I don’t know exactly where you fit on the Gunter family tree, but the Gunters are one of the true pioneer families in the area.

  2. Susie Reed Brantley says:

    I was blessed to move to Olton from California when I was in the 8th grade. I didn’t know if I would like small town living but it was exactly what I needed. The people are great and they showed my mother, Mrs. Reed, my brother and myself that we were right where we were supposed to be. There are many people to thank for who I am today but I’ll just say “Thank you Olton!”

  3. Margie McAlister says:

    Very well depicted with memories galore. My husband and I grew up here too. Very warm and friendly. We share with pride our home town of Olton, Texas. I will celebrate with my classmates in August, our 55 year class reunion. We have 44 remaining class members out of 56, and are a close knit group. My husband’s 55th class reunion was held last year. Keep up the great story. Thanks

  4. Patsy Stewart says:

    Hi Jenabeth, just want to make one correction. The Roxy didn’t close in 1953, Maybe 63. I was born in 54 and and can still remember going to the movies there in the second grade. I love your story and I loved growing up in Olton. It is still and always will be my Hometown.

  5. Don Yeoh says:

    That was a beautiful write-up, Jenabeth! Beautiful not only because Olton is getting the attention it deserves, beautiful also because you saw reason to celebrate simplicity in a world awed only by the glittering, the glamorous and the sophisticated. Simplicity is quite rare a virtue these days, and I’m so glad it’s right there in the core of you, cousin Jenabeth!

  6. Rosemary Peggram says:

    Great photos! Used one of the Roxy for a presentation. Great story and depiction of Olton. Didn’t grow up there but have loved the sense of community and support since moving there. I think small towns are great for raising a family.

  7. Della Robertson says:

    I went to Olton, Texas, today to discover the town where a friend of mine lived for a short while. She talked to me about Mr. Dodson, who was a member of the educational community…this was in the 1950s. I’m trying to find out more about the history of the schools in Olton. Can you help me? Thank you for your history.

    Della Robertson

  8. Nathan says:

    Love your page..and all the details about Olton. Stumbled upon this small town, as I was thinking about relocating to Texas, to a simpler life.

  9. lucila says:

    I was born and raised in this wonderful community… I have raised my children here and now my children are raising my grandbabies here…makes me happy
    Wonderful people

  10. Ricky Skelton says:

    I grew up in the farming community of Olton. I spent all my years in Olton schools, until I graduated in 1965. What a wonderful story, and loved seeing the present day photos of Olton, and reading about it’s past history. Thanks, for sharing your story about an awesome community!

  11. David Turner says:

    Such a great memory for me growing up in Olton and was born in Olton. You did a wonderful job with this. Thanks for taking us down “memory Lane”

  12. Ira Lloyd says:

    I was born in the hospital in olton.Attended school from 1st till sixth grade.I was back for most of my 9th grade.I am the only one of 5 lloyd kids born in olton.edith carlene lyons lloyd graduated from olton high.

  13. Cindy Rufenacht says:

    Loved reading this and seeing the pictures. My uncle and aunt raised their family in Olton and some of them are still there. Awesome family, awesome small town. Bob and Madie Williams and their kids have all experienced the love and friendship of Olton.

  14. Maude says:

    Thank you for the wonderful blog on Olton. Spent many years working at the Post office as the rural carrier. I had wonderful customers and think about them often.

  15. Dani Blythe says:

    I was blessed to have lived in a Olton all 12 years of school…it is Home! I left for a few years but it is always a pleasure going Home to see family and friends.

  16. Hayden Hankins says:

    The Roxie was still open in 1957. I. A. Webb was running the projector, according to his friend Hayden Hankins.

  17. Emily Johnson says:

    I personally know someone who grew up there. This person, along with every other child in the home lived in severe emotional, sexual and physical abuse at home. Some of the most horrific situations I’ve ever heard. This person repeatedly told teachers, coaches and other adults what was going on and not only did they do nothing to help they told this child that “it couldn’t be that bad”! You might see some quaint little town but for some people growing up there it was literal hell! The teachers and administration in that place are pathetic for what the knowingly sat back and watched happen. So to the teachers, coaches and administration in this town. When you have students that show up with bruises everyday, who obviously have eaten in days and have the courage to tell you of the horrific abuse that’s happening at home. BELIEVE THEM YOU IDIOTS! No matter how inconvient it might be to your precious little town!

    • Diane says:

      Teachers as well as health care workers are required to report suspected child abuse of any form to Child Protective Services. Hopefully there is more awareness of this problem now. Horrible for any child to suffer any type of abuse.

  18. Sue Witten White says:

    Jenabeth, what a beautiful story about a town that is home to me, I feel blessed to have been raised in Olton. When I was in High School in the 50’s, there was no place on earth that I would rather be. The highlight of summer is attending Sandhills celebration. Thanks for your story

  19. Mike Foskey says:

    A great article, I was honored to serve on the town council and later as the Mayor. My city manager, Layton Covington and I worked very hard make Olton a better place and had a great time doing this.I also was co-owner of the local funeral home. I also donated a lot of the furniture in the oldest home in Olton.

    Best Regards,

    Mike Foskey

  20. D'Anna White says:

    I love my hometown with all my heart! The places, history and people are like no other! Small town charm would be an understatement for Olton. I’m so blessed to have a part of Olton live with me and my children and hopefully their children’s children!!

  21. Anita Marroquin says:

    I was born in Yorktown Texas but Olton Texas is where my parents and my sibleys grew up . We worked the fields and went to the Olton Schools . My brother Robert Ochoa and My 2 sisters Hortencia Villanuva and Gloria Perez till this day Live in Olton . Lost my mom back in 2009 and lost my dad April 30, 2016 . When I can I visit from Detroit Michigan And love every minute I sprnd it in Olton

    Living in a big city like Detroit could never compare to a Small town like Olton . .Live the friendly and great family feeling there.
    Thank you for sharing great memories of A town thst will always be my home town and in my ❤

  22. Ben says:

    I wouldnt change my childhood for a million bucks, i couldnt wait to grow up and leave olton, tx. and search for my place in the world, Ive traveled the the world looking for something that i had already found, i sure was gung ho to to leave olton but, i sure miss it now, a wallace donut from the tasty cream, a frito pie at the stock show in december, the swimming pool at the country club on a hot august afternoon, that smell of rain after a long drought but most of all i miss the people! My story begins in Olton, Texas

  23. Sandra says:

    Hey Jenabeth I love the way that you talk about how our small little town can be so great in little ways! This is Sandra Reyna and the year of 2016-2017 I was in Mr.Gunters class.Both you and your father make Olton sound so big when it is little! LUV -Sandra Reyna

    # JENABETH MORGAN

  24. Ann Pereira says:

    Nice write up. You make me really want to come to Olton for a visit. You mom will be my tour guide. She have invited me so many times. Reading and seeing your pictures ,give it more reason why i really should. See Olton in the near future.

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