Twelve miles east of Lazbuddie at the intersection of Highway 145 and FM 503/504 just past where Parmer County gives way to Castro County, a community called Big Square thrived, for a time, on land that used to be part of the XIT Ranch. Big Square is now gone, but descendants of the original families who lived there are still with us.
Dr. David Wyer’s great-grandfather Marcus Lionel Stiles fought in the Civil War as a Union soldier in the Illinois 7th Cavalry, Company D. Marcus farmed for several years in Illinois and later in Iowa before being lured to Texas during a 1907 land rush created when a group of men were given a part of the XIT Ranch in exchange for construction of the capitol building in Austin. Wanting to keep his family together, Marcus bought four sections of land to divide up between his adult children.
Photo courtesy of Dr. David Wyer
The grandfather of Dr. David Wyer, William Grant Wyer, who married Emma Stiles, was one of those early settlers. His son H.J., Dr. Wyer’s father, came to Texas with W.G. and Emma and the rest of the Stiles families when he was thirteen in 1908. They traveled to Hereford by train, and then from Hereford hauled necessary supplies and equipment by wagon to the four sections of land Marcos bought. They then built four homes, all square-shaped, two-story houses. Those houses as well as the four square-shaped sections of adjoining land are what gave the community its name.
Photo courtesy of Dr. David Wyer
In the northwest section of land W.G. and Emma Wyer had one of the two-story square houses and Andrew (brother of W.G.) and May (Stiles) Wyer had a one-story home. In the northeast section of the land C.W. and Phoebe (Stiles) Mick had a one-story house, and Otis and Nelle (Stiles) Burton had a two-story house which also housed the first post office in 1910. In the southwest section of land Ferguson and Minnie Stiles and the Stiles’ parents, Marcus and Sara, each had two-story square homes. Glen and Leona Stiles had no children and didn’t need a bigger house, so they lived with Marcus and Sara. In the southeast section Alfred and Lou (Stiles) Scott had a one-story home. Speculation arises as to which homes were built first and why some were one-story and others had two-stories. Family size and timing perhaps had something to do with it, but that question will go unanswered.
In the southeast section is also where the Big Square school was built by Marcus Stiles in 1909, but later turned into a residence which still stands, although it is now unoccupied. About two miles down the highway Marcus added a newer school on Agee land, and it served the community from 1930 to 1937, but is no longer there. The new marker is in the southwest section across the road from the original school at the corner of Hwy 145 and FM 503/504, which was where the Big Square store was located. The post office was relocated to that store from the Burton home in 1910. It was closed in 1927.
Other families bought land next to the Stiles sections and the farming community flourished. Over time, as happens within family dynamics, children grew up and moved away, deaths occurred, changes took place, and gradually some of the land was sold, and Big Square dwindled away. Not all the families had the Stiles connection, but a good many families played a part in the growth and development of the Big Square area. Some of those families included the Jacques, Paynes, Cates, Coxes, Browns, Brogdons, Halls, Barretts, McDermitts, Agees, Kellers, Laymans, Bakers, Davis, Habers, Anthonys, Englishes, Tunnels, Pillows, Kitrells, Woods, Moodys, Herrings, Hicks, Youts, Otts, and Olivers.
The marker is on land now owned by Raybern Ott and farmed by his son Sammy. It stands quietly in the flat, inviting landscape as a reminder of the way things used to be.
You are cordially invited to attend the dedication of this historical marker that remembers a place many of us probably never even knew existed. The Castro County Historical Commission will host the dedication on Saturday, July 31st at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Hwy 145 and FM 503.
It will be a nice way to start the day.
The Castro County Historical Commission and Leta Dennis are grateful to Dr. David Wyer, Mr. Milburn Hayden, Dr. Sammy Cox, and Sammy Ott for their help in making this marker a reality.
Thank you to Dr. David and Dorothy Wyer for helping me with this story.
Very interesting as always. We look forward to more.
Thanks! I appreciate that you enjoy the stories.
This is a wonderful article! Thank you so very much for writing and sharing the history of Big Square!
You are very welcome! It was an interesting story to write.
I enjoyed this very much. I have heard stories of Big Square all my life my Mother and her siblings attend school there. My Grandfather was W.A. Youts, one story was that the man who put the names on the mailboxes didn’t get the spacing right and the name came out to be WAY outs.
Had to laugh at the mailbox mix-up! Thanks for reading.
Thank you for recording this slice of history. It is very interesting.
You are welcome. Thanks for reading.
That’s my grandpa!
Dr. Wyer, I take it, is who you are referring to? He worked diligently to document the community.
Thank you for this post. I just came across it yesterday. My mother cared for Mr and Mrs Alfred Scott in their elder years, and until Alfred’s passing at age 97. He was like a grandfather to me. I grew up in the former home of Marcus and Sara, and Glen and Leona Stiles. Although the top story had been removed by that time, we could see in the attic the floor and fireplace of the second story. My fondest childhood memories are of playing in the big, red, wooden barn, and listening to Mr Scott’s stories of their train ride from Iowa, and life on the plains before any town but Hereford existed. I had not wanted to go back since the houses and barn were torn down, so I am happy to know about this historical marker there now.
Mr. Hargett, thank you for reading and for your nice comment. That marker would not have happened without the determination of David Wyer. He would enjoy hearing from you. I enjoyed writing the story; it was most interesting.