BACK IN TIME: Cuthbert has distinction of ushering in Permian Basin oil action

EDITOR’S NOTE: Information for this article came from the books “ Ghost Towns of Texas,” the Texas Almanac and an article about Cuthbert, Texas on The Handbook of Texas Online.
CUTHBERT While it isn’t known today, the former community of Cuthbert in Mitchell County has the distinction of inaugurating commercial oil production in the Permian Basin. And that means a lot to many thousands of Permian Basin residents today. The tiny community actually came into existence in 1890 when Mr. and Mrs. D.T.
Bozeman “purchased a half section of land at the site and constructed a dugout home in which they lived for several months,” according to T. Lindsay Baker in “Ghost Towns of Texas.”
Bozeman was a teacher in a nearby country school who “settled in the area and built a wagonyard and a store,” according to an article in The Handbook of Texas Online. “A post office was granted at the community in 1891, with Bozeman’s wife, Ellen, as postmistress; the office was named for a family friend, Thomas Cuthbertson.”
The Cuthbert story in the Baker book continued, “In time more people started buying land around the Cuthbert post office and a true community began to develop. Most of the residents engaged in agriculture and stock raising.”
A few years passed and in 1904 Bozeman quit his teaching job “to devote himself exclusively to his business interests,” wrote Baker. “In that same year he secured a switchboard from the local telephone company and installed it in his home, Mrs. Bozeman serving as the operator for the local subscribers.”
The Cuthbert community also experienced growth and early in the 19th century included two stores, a post office, a telephone exchange, a blacksmith shop, a school, a cotton gin and a church.
The community’s school, constructed on land provided by Bozeman, stood two stories tall with one classroom situated right above the other. “Resting on large rocks for its foundation,” wrote Baker, “the building had to be guy-wired to anchors on each side to prevent its blowing over in high winds.”
Real excitement came to Cuthbert in 1920 when the T. and P.-Abrams No. 1 oil well sputtered to life about a mile north of the town. It was not an impressive well, but in the heady days of 1920 when oil men were beginning to look around at all types of locations for wells near San Angelo, Big Lake, Midland and Odessa that was enough.
“Though it was never an impressive well,” wrote Baker, “it had the distinction of inaugurating commercial oil production in the Permian Basin, which within a few years became one of the largest oil fields in the United States.”
But the growth that the discovery of oil in the Permian Basin would mean for cities like San Angelo, Big Spring, Midland and Odessa would not occur in Cuthbert.
“With the improvement of rural roads through its area after World War II, Cuthbert withered away.
No longer was it necessary for local residents to drive over dirt roads which became muddy wallows after rains to buy groceries or pick up mail at Cuthbert, for the village lay only about fifteen minutes away from Colorado City via paved highways,” Baker stated.
Today nothing is left to mark the location of Cuthbert except a historical marker for the T. and P.-Abrams No. 1 oil well alongside Farm to Market Road 1229 about 1.3 miles northwest of the townsite.