St. Mary’s Centennial Celebration planned for 2010
In preparation for the Centennial Celebration of the establishment of the Parish of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, originally begun in Perico around 1910, parishioners of the present-day Catholic community at Texline are asking for information on the history of the parish.
Perico, a small community located 11 miles south of Texline on the present day Highway 87, was originally established around 1888 as a siding on the railroad and was named Farwell. In 1905, the railroad changed the name of the town from Farwell to Perico. At this time, much of the ranch land in Dallam County was being sub-divided and sold to farmers. During the early 1900’s, a German Catholic farming colony of approximately 30 families immigrated to Perico from Illinois, brought here by the Catholic Colonization Society of Chicago. Among the first to arrive were the Schniers, Reilmans, Barths, Lambergers, Bolks, Theismans and Kohrmans. The town of Perico consisted of a small railroad depot on the Fort Worth and Denver Railroad line and a water tank, as well as a general store, a one-room frame school house built by the community and a post office.
The Catholic community was originally served by priests who rode the train up from Dalhart or Amarillo to say Mass every two or three months. Mass was usually held in the home of one of the local Catholic families prior to the building of a church, although, stories tell of the first Mass being celebrated on the open prairie on August 18, 1910 on the spot where the Perico church was later built . Parishioners also traveled by train or wagon to Clayton or to Amarillo for Mass when a priest was not available.
The Perico church was built in approximately 1913 with a $750 grant from the Catholic Church Extension Society, as well as money raised by the families in the community. The land was donated by Theodore Timmerman of Breese, IL and includes a cemetery just west of the church. The church was built of concrete and consisted of a small chapel and a large porch. One of the earliest priests to serve the community was Fr. Patrick J. Murphy, who lived in Dalhart and was the pastor at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church. He was a missionary in charge of the Missionary district of St. Paul the Apostle. His district included the counties of Dallam, Sherman, Hansford, Ochiltree, Lipscomb, Hartley, Moore, Hutchinson and Oldham in the Texas Panhandle as well as Beaver, Texas and Cimarron counties in Oklahoma. This parish, the second parish established in Dallam County, was part of the Diocese of Dallas. There are many stories from the those original founding families, as well as their descendants, that include tales of Mass once a month, summer Bible schools and parish picnics. Also included in the history of this little community is the hard times that came during the time of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, which lead to many of the residents being forced to relocate. However, the Catholic community in Perico continued to serve those whose faith helped them survive and remain.
As the community of Perico dwindled, the condition of the little church at Perico deteriorated, it was decided by the Diocese of Amarillo and the remaining parishioners to relocate the parish of St. Mary’s to Texline in 1982. Land was donated in Texline by the John and Ann Reifers family, and a new church was built there. The dedication Mass at St. Mary’s in Texline was June 26, 1983. The parish now includes families from the Texline and Perico area, northeastern New Mexico and the Oklahoma panhandle. This parish is still active today and is a mission church of St. Anthony’s Parish in Dalhart where the resident priest, Fr. Scott Raef, resides.
Anyone who might have pictures, stories or memorabilia from this community and the early days at Perico are asked to contact Barbara Campsey at 806-362-4583 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Beverly Reeser at 575-374-9090 or email@example.com.