TAHOKA, TX (KCBD) - Bill Chancy, a lifelong Tahoka resident, is known to many as Santa Claus. "The kids have always called me Santa, this beard is 49 years old," said Chancy.
While he may not have been around when Tahoka was established back in 1903, this 81-year-old sure does know the history. "This is what I know and what I've read," said Chancy.
The city was named after nearby Tahoka Lake, a natural spring fed lake whose Indian name means "fresh water." After the first Lynn County Courthouse was built in 1903, the Tahoka public square became the center of activity in 1907, because the highway ran straight through the town.
In 1915 Hotel Lynn was built. "It was suppose to be the nicest hotel west of Fort Worth and it was open exactly one month to the day when it burnt to the ground," said Chancy.
On December 30, 1915, a blowing curtain caught a tiny flame of an oil heater in a bakery and the uncontrollable blaze ended up destroying one third of the Tahoka business district.
After the fire, the square was re-built and in 1916 a much larger courthouse was built, as the other was moved down the street by mules.
Over the years, the city of Tahoka continued to boom. "The population in 1928 is probably bigger than it is today," said Chancy. Chancy remembers a very active town well. He ran a service station for 60 years. "In 1953 there were 23 service stations, 9 car dealers, 7 tractor dealers, 17 independent garages a number of mom and pop operations," said Chancy.
Chancy says in 1967 that all changed, that's when the Tahoka Highway no longer went through the town, but was built to go around. "I would go back and open up after the ball game was over and I would run the pumps and my wife would run the cash register and we would stay till 3:00 am, the year they went around us with the highway, I tried it again and I had one customer," he said.
Chancy says Tahoka has always been a farming community and probably also will be. "I had an old gentlemen who was a customer of mine, Al Lehman, and if he knew you couldn't buy a shirt or a pair of pants in Tahoka today, he would turn over in his grave," he said.
While Tahoka has changed a little from back then, Chancy says what makes the town are the people.
Another interesting fact, Chancy lives in the oldest house in Tahoka. It was built in 1906.
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