LEFORS, TEXAS. Lefors is on the North Fork of the Red River and State Highway 273, twelve miles southeast of Pampa in central Gray County. The town was named for Perry LeFors, who traveled with his father to the Panhandleqv in 1878 and later became foreman of the Diamond F Ranch, part of the White Deer Lands (see FRANCKLYN LAND AND CATTLE COMPANY). The first homestead (1882) on the future townsite was that of Travis Leach, a rancher and surveyor, whose log cabin served as a stagecoach stop on the mail route from Fort Elliott and Mobeetie to Tascosa. Henry B. Lovett,qv a former buffalo hunter, and Henry Thut,qv a Swiss immigrant whose sister-in-law, Emma Lang, married LeFors, also settled in the vicinity during the 1880s. George Henry Saunders had a ranch camp headquarters nearby. Other settlers soon moved into the area, and in 1892 a post office was opened at Lefors with Thut as postmaster. (Postal officials required that the F be lowercased.) Four years later a combination school and church building was built.
When Gray County was organized on May 27, 1902, Lefors was elected county seat. A two-story frame courthouse was built for less than $2,500, and Thut, who became the first county treasurer, erected a hotel. Perry LeFors served as the town’s first constable. The population reached 150 in 1910, and despite its small size and the lack of a railroad, the town managed for a time to remain the county seat. When the oil boom hit the county during the 1920s, three oil pools were discovered in the vicinity. Lefors profited handsomely from the boom, especially in real estate, but Pampa became the county seat in 1928 after a special election. Nevertheless, the boom resulted in the establishment of an independent school district and the bringing of electricity and other modern utilities to the town. By 1931 Lefors had incorporated, and in 1932 the town finally got a railroad, when the Fort Worth and Denver extended its line from Pampa. The population increased to 809 by 1940. Several Protestant denominations established churches in the community. The town suffered a flood in 1961, unemployment from the closure of several area carbon black plants in 1964, and a tornado in 1975. In 1984 Lefors had eleven businesses and a population of 829. In 1990 its population was reported as 656. The population dropped to 559 in 2000.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Gray County 50th Anniversary, 1902-1952: Souvenir Program (Pampa, Texas: Pampa Daily News, 1952). Gray County History Book Committee, Gray County Heritage (Dallas: Taylor, 1985). Elleta Nolte, For the Reason We Climb Mountains-Gray County, 1902-1982 (Pampa, Texas: Gray County Historical Commission, 1982). Millie Jones Porter, Memory Cups of Panhandle Pioneers (Clarendon, Texas: Clarendon Press, 1945). Lester Fields Sheffy, The Francklyn Land & Cattle Company (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963). F. Stanley, The Lefors, Texas, Story (Nazareth, Texas, 1975).