Mirando City History

On this page:

  • History of Mirando City
  •  O. W. Killam (Founder of Mirando City)
  • George Buck (Notable Oil Man)
  • William W. Sterling (Texas Ranger)
  • Joseph Morris
  • Lala's Cafe
  • Peyote and the Native American Church

History of Mirando City

MIRANDO CITY, TEXAS. Mirando City is on Ranch Road 649 thirty miles east of Laredo and 110 miles west of Corpus Christi in eastern Webb County. The elevation is 600 feet above sea level. The townsite, on land originally granted to Nicolás Mirando, was previously occupied by a small ranching community. When the Texas-Mexican Railway built through the area in 1881, the community acquired a small siding that enabled it to ship cattle and sheep. In addition to livestock, the area around Mirando City has also long supported the peyote cactus. Webb, Zapata, Jim Hogg, and Starr counties contain the only commercial range of peyote in the United States. Area residents known as peyoteros have harvested and supplied peyote for religious ceremonies to Indians in the United States since the nineteenth century. Indians also travel to Mirando City from across the country to harvest the cactus themselves.

In April 1921 Oliver Winfield Killam brought in the first commercial oil well in the area. Killam, who had already promoted the town of Locust Grove in Oklahoma, bought land in the Mirando Valley and started laying out the town of Mirando City in September 1921. Several months later, in December, a gusher at another drilling site ushered in an oil boom. Lots began selling rapidly, and the town quickly became the hub of activity in the oilfield. A post office was established in 1922. Mirando City had the distinction of being one of the few towns established in Texas without a nearby water supply. Until the fall of 1922 all of the drinking water for the town was hauled from the neighboring community of Bruni at a cost of $13.00 per tank car. Two tanks and a pump were furnished by O. W. Killam and located near the Mirando City Lumber Company, which Killam had established earlier that year. Also in 1922, William W. Sterling and John Long organized the first water company in Mirando City. They dug wells in the nearby village of Los Ojuelos, which had flowing springs. The partners then laid a pipeline to Mirando City, constructed a 500-barrel storage tank, and installed the town's first water meters. The heavy water use dropped the water table, however, and the springs at Los Ojuelos dried up. Although deepened several times, the wells themselves dried up in the 1930s, and other wells were drilled farther east to supply Mirando City.

In the fall of 1922 a power plant was built to furnish electricity to the community. After eight months of operation the plant closed, but on May 12, 1923, Richard C. Young, a resident of Mirando City, purchased the plant, and power was subsequently resumed. The Mirando City Bank operated from June 1922 to May 1923. During the 1930s, successful businesses in Mirando City included H. F. Danmier Trucks, founded by Herbert F. Danmier in 1923; Long Brothers Drilling Company, founded by John D. Long in 1923; and the Border Foundry and Machine Company, founded by Edgar and Conrad Mims in 1922. The Mirando City Record, the unincorporated town's only newspaper, was established by Weldon Pharr on June 12, 1939. The newspaper, published every Friday, reached a peak circulation of 1,500 in September 1939. After a successful two-year run, the newspaper ceased publication in 1941.

During the expansion years of the town, prominent residents included Deputy Sheriff William W. Sterling, independent oil operator George L. Buck, Triangle Garage owner Richard C. Young, and R and S Truck Company owner Gus A. Becker. Because there was no school district, town residents, along with Killam, organized to form the first school. Killam agreed to pay half the salary for a teacher, while the residents agreed to pay the other half and find an appropriate building in which to conduct classes. In September 1922, the school opened with fifteen pupils from the first through sixth grades. The Mirando Independent School District was established in March 1923. The first commencement exercises were held on May 10, 1927. Three years later Mirando High School was accredited by the state of Texas.

Throughout the early years of Mirando City, several neighboring communities played a pivotal role in the success of the town's development. Aguilares, six miles west of Mirando City, supplied the fledgling town with dry goods during the first few months of its existence. Bruni, ten miles east of Mirando City, provided a meat market and several restaurants. Oilton, two miles northeast of Mirando City, was a source of firewood. Los Ojuelos, three miles south of Mirando City, provided drinking water for several months before a water company was established in the town. With the development of the South Texas oil industry, the town's population soared from fewer than 100 residents in 1922 to more than 1,000 by 1925. In 1929 the population peaked at an estimated 1,500. In 1990 the population of Mirando City was 559.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Michael F. Black, ed., Mirando City: A New Town in a New Oil Field (Laredo: Laredo Publishing, 1972). Stan Green, The Rise and Fall of Rio Grande Settlements: A History of Webb County (Laredo, Texas: Border Studies, 1991). George R. Morgan and Omer C. Stewart, "Peyote Trade in South Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 87 (January 1984). Hermilinda

Murillo, A History of Webb County (M.A. thesis, Southwest Texas StateTeachers College, 1941).

Laura Lamar Ramirez

(From the Handbook of Texas Online)

Notable Citizens


Oliver Winfield Killam, oilman and town founder, was born on April 27, 1874, in Lincoln County, Missouri, the oldest of seven children of Winfield and Katherine (Macgruder) Killam. At the age of eighteen he entered La Grange College in La Grange, Missouri, where he excelled in football. In 1896 he graduated from the law department of the University of Missouri. Soon thereafter, he moved to Joplin to establish a law practice, but after only six months he abandoned law in order to work in zinc mining. With no experience or knowledge of the industry, Killam began working as a laborer. In 1898, only six months later, he became manager. In the spring of 1902 he met and married Harriet (Hattie) Smith, the daughter of a prominent physician in South West City, Missouri; they had three children. The couple moved to Grove,Oklahoma, where Killam established a successful lumber and mercantile business. In 1907 he became politically active as a strong advocate of Oklahoma statehood. In 1910 he won a seat in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, where he remained for four years. Also in 1910 he established Locust Grove, Oklahoma. In 1914, Killam was elected to the Oklahoma Senate, where he served for four years and befriended the first governor of the state, Charles N. Haskell. In 1919, Haskell suggested to Killam the idea of moving to South Texas to look for oil. Killam sold his business and property, abandoned his promising political career, and, in the spring of 1920, moved to Laredo.

He secured an oil lease on the Hinnant Ranch in Zapata County. After erecting his first oil derrick, he purchased a rig and began drilling. Mirando Oil Company Hinnant No. 1, as it was called, proved a failure. Killam's second attempt, Hinnant No. 2, was lost because of bad casing. Success finally came with No. 3, on April 17, 1921. At 1,461 feet the well came in and pumped about twenty barrels a day. It became the first commercial oil well south of San Antonio and encouraged others to join in exploration. In 1921, with Colon Schott of Cincinnati, Ohio, Killam developed the Schott oilfield, just south of the fledging town of Mirando City, which he had established. Killam's biggest and most successful gusher, Schott No. 2, produced 300 to 400 barrels of oil daily, plus several million cubic feet of natural gas.  Photographs of the well flowing wild, plus accounts of its success in newspapers all over the state, encouraged the South Texas oil boom of the 1920s. After the development of the Schott field many South Texas cattle ranchers began leasing large tracts of land to explore for oil, and Mirando City soon became the center of the fast­growing South Texas oil business. Killam next established the Texpapa Pipe Line Company in order to carry the oil to tank farms or railroad tank cars. In 1923 he established the Misko Refineries at Mirando City in order to capitalize further on his investment.

During the 1930s he served as president of both the Laredo Chamber of Commerce and the South Texas Chamber of Commerce.qv He was named "King Petrol" at the Oilmen's Jubilee by the oil operators of the Laredo district on July 4, 1937. In 1956 he was named Outstanding Citizen of South Texas by members of the Washington's Birthday Celebration Association of Laredo. In only a few short years, Killam became one of the best-known wildcatters in South Texas. He died at the age of eighty­-four on January 1,1959.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Michael F. Black, ed., Mirando City: A New Town in a New Oil Field (Laredo: Laredo Publishing, 1972). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

Laura Lamar Ramirez

From the University of Texas Web Pages, Texas Handbook Online


Newspaper article submitted by William Layton. Acticle written by George L.

Buck's granddaughter Janice Hinds.

W. W. Sterling

Justice of the Peace Office, Mirando City, TX.


William Warren Sterling, lawman, son of Edward A. and Mary (Chamberlain) Sterling, was born near Belton, Texas, on April 27, 1891, and spent his early years on his family's ranch before they moved to Beaumont in 1901. He entered Texas A&M at seventeen and two years later was working on ranches near Falfurrias and in Hidalgo County. During 1915-16, when political unrest in Mexico spilled over the Rio Grande border, he was a posseman and scout for the Third United States Cavalry in Hidalgo and Cameron counties. During World War I he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Ninth Texas Infantry. Afterward he was in Mirando City as deputy sheriff and justice of the peace during the oil boom in Webb County. In 1927 Governor Dan Moody appointed him captain, Company D, Texas Rangers, and he was sent immediately to the boomtown of Borger. In 1928 his ranger headquarters was moved to Falfurrias. About this time the sculptor Gutzon Borglum used Sterling as the model for his planned Texas Ranger statue. In 1929 Sterling was in Pettus when an oil boom started there, and he helped stop the lawlessness. During the administration of Governor Ross S. Sterling he served as adjutant general (commander of the Texas Rangers and the Texas National Guard); in this capacity he closed the Red River bridge at Denison during the much publicized Red River bridge controversy between Oklahomaand Texas in 1931. Sterling resigned from the rangers at the close of hisservice as adjutant general in 1933. As a colonel during World War II hehelped set up selective service for the Eighth Service Command.  Sterling managed the Driscoll ranches in South Texas and later appraised ranches His book, Trails and Trials of a Texas Ranger, was published in 1959. He was married to Zora Lou Eckhardt, and they had two daughters. Sterling died on April 26, 1960, and was buried in Seaside Memorial Park, Corpus Christi.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Austin American, April 27, 1960, August 28, 1969. Brooks County Texan, March 22, 1929. Cattleman, May 1960. Corpus Christi Caller and Daily Herald, February 15, 16, 27, 28, 1915. Oran Warder Nolen, "Col. W. W. Sterling: Cowman, Texas Ranger and a Prince among Men," Cattleman, June 1966. Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

From University of Texas Web Pages, Texas Handbook Online

JOSEPH S. MORRIS (Wildcatter)

Joseph S. Morris wasborn in Cleveland, Tennessee, on September 8, 1902, a Son of Joseph P. Morris and Mayme Harris Morris both natives Tennessee. The family moved to Fowlerton, Texas, where the Elder Morris was engaged in developing and selling farmlands and where the younger Morris was educated. On March 2, > 1932 Mr. Joseph S. Morris married Mrs. Hazel Summers of Galveston, Texas. Miss. Summers, Daughter of Mr. Jack Summers of Fort Worth, Texas. Mr. and Mrs. Morris are the parents of 2 Daughters: Jean Elizabeth and Lynne Summers Morris. In 1919 Mr. Morris served his apprenticeship in the employ of Mr. Allen. At that time the firm was Newton and Allen, Contracting Firm for Drilling Services. In 1923 Mr. Newton sold out his entreats to Mr. Joseph Morris. This dissolved the firm of Newton and Allen. Then the new firm of Allen and Morris was formed in 1924. With a small start with just one light-drilling rig, the firm has steadily expanded its operation and now has ten heavy drilling rigs manned by a full force of experienced drillers. They have drilled 1,600 wells most of them in South Texas, with a few being drilled in North Louisiana and some in Arkansas. Recently the firm brought in the discovery well for Seabord Oil Company in the Dominican Republic. The First successful oil well completed on the Dominican Island in the West
Indies. They also brought in the First flowing well in the Mirando Valley Field 1921. Mr. Claude Witherspoon was driller on the discovery well. The first gas well in the Bruni Field was drilled, the first 1,800 Ft. oil well at that level and the first deep pay in the 3,400 Ft. strata of the Bruni Field. They drilled the first gas well in the Mirando District in the Schott Field. They drilled the discovery well on the Chapman Ranch in Nueces County and the discovery well in the Luby Field. The discovery well in Larosa in Refugio County was drilled by Allen & Morris as was the first well for the Colorado Interest and the First well for Fred Shield in the Robstown District. The firm of Allen and Morris had been together for 16 Years in 1940. Mr. Joseph S. Morris now lives in San Antonio, and has offices in the Alamo Building when I corresponded with him in 1986. (The Historical

Encyclopedia of Texas the 1936 Addition)

Article supplied to me by William Layton - wlayton@lwol.com

This article was scanned from The McIntosh Express (Laredo Community College

Newspaper) and was written by William Layton



No history of Mirando City would be complete without mentioning Lala's Cafe.  This little cafe has been one of the most recognizable landmarks in Mirando City for decades and has been a big part of the history of this little town.

Update--on January 4, 2014 a Texas Historical Marker was dedicated at Lala''s Cafe.  Photo of marker is shown below:


Peyote is a unique product for the Mirando City Area.  Below is some information about the small little cactus and its uses by the Native American Church.  If you have any other information about peyote and are willing to share it, please email me aT rlblack5@gmail.com