By Norris Chambers

          I graduated from Cross Cut High School in the spring of 1935 with a class of 13 ambitious seniors. We lived in an old log house about six miles southwest of the village

            The size of the original town site was about 20 acres.  Although there were platted streets, no signs were ever erected nor streets built. Two-rut trails followed roughly the street locations, where needed. A county served as the main street of the town.

            Cross Cut was a thriving community for many years. The town boasted a blacksmith shop, two general stores, two doctors, a drug store, a big two room school with a convertible auditorium and lodges of Odd Fellows and Woodmen of the World. The farming community supported the town and the town supplied the farmers with necessities.

            This laid back living continued until about 1924 when oil was discovered in the area. In a few short months the whole area around Cross Cut was spiked with drilling rigs and the construction of pipelines and refineries. People came by the hundreds to take the well paying jobs that the oil companies offered. The tiny town was swamped with people. Investors built dozens of two room shacks and many families lived in tents or just camped under trees. Cross Cut had no water supply other than a few dirt tanks at the edge of town. A water man, Mr. Bright, hauled muddy water and sold it for 50 cents a barrel. The typical house in Cross Cut had a toilet in the back and a water barrel in the front. Shacks were also built by the oil companies on their leases in the surrounding country. These were for their key employees. The town had several other stores, a barbershop, a meat market, a two-story hotel, several auto repair shops and service stations and a telephone office. The phone lines ran three or four miles into the surrounding country. There was even a local constable.

            With the crowd came some rough characters. A man was shot down on the main street. A shoot-out between two residents on the main street had the school closed for a few hours until the shooting was over. Both men were wounded. Another shooting occurred between two farmers. One was killed. Fist fights between the over-crowded residents was a daily occurrence. One man was seriously injured when another one slugged him with a cedar fence post. A feud between two families in the late 1800’s left one woman dead and a man wounded.

            The citizens of the community banded together in 1927 and consolidated some smaller country schools and erected a nice two-story brick schoolhouse. The school was soon filled and, although crowded for awhile, did a good job of teaching. In the thirties the work began to slow and only those who were left behind to pump and maintain the leases were left. One of the refineries closed after a few months of operation. Those who stayed behind were stable citizens and the community again thrived. The decline continued as the leases produced less. The price of oil fell and the oil companies abandoned them. In the late forties there were not enough children left to maintain a school and the district was consolidated with Cross Plains, a larger town about ten miles north of Cross Cut.

            In the fifties only two businesses survived, a small drug store and post office, operated by Charles Jackson, and a garage owned and operated by Lawrence Byrd. In the latter part of that decade the drug store and post office disappeared and the garage closed. Both churches had been abandoned. A few of the old families and their descendants lived in the old houses in the town – probably not over a dozen.

            Another blow came in the mid forties. The road from Brownwood to Cross Plains was opened and paved and it bypassed Cross Cut.  A small sign indicated that a left turn up the hill would take you to the old town.   

            The old town site could be mistaken for a ghost town of the old west mining days except for the absence of the rolling tumbleweeds. Not even tumbleweeds thrive there. A few descendants of the pioneers still live in the country, but not much farming is done anymore. Only the best land is farmed and a few farmers do this. The day of a farmer on every 160 or 320 acres is gone.

            Probably Cross Cut’s only claim to fame was realized when two residents, Curtis McPeters and Glenn Strange, country musicians, left Cross Cut in the late twenties and headed west. They became movie actors in Hollywood , appearing mostly in westerns as cowboys or bandits. Glen Strange played Frankenstein and later became the bar tender named Sam on Gunsmoke. Curtis was known as “Cactus Mack”.  The famous author, Robert E. Howard, lived there as a boy and began his education in the Cross Cut school.

            The little town that thrived then boomed and died lives on in memories only. The community has renovated the cemetery and maintains it well. Those who now live in the community revere the memory of the pioneers and are proud of their heritage. For a longer visit in Cross Cut go to

            Clifton and I and many others did have fun growing up in the latter heyday of a genuine ghost town!