From Decatur we turn back westwards and after a journey of 137 miles we reach the small town of Haskell, population 3,300, the seat of Haskell County.
The site of the modern town was originally known as Willow Pond Springs and the first recorded settler was Thomas Tucker in 1879, who named his homestead Rice Springs.
Haskell County, named after Charles Ready Haskell, a hero of the Texan independence struggle, was organised in 1885 and the community which grew up at Rice Springs was renamed Haskell.
The railway reached Haskell in 1906 but the town remained a small centre for agriculture and cotton production. The discovery of the Lawson oilfield 6 miles away just before World War II gave a boost to the population which peaked at around 4,000 in 1970.
Haskell is the hometown of Rick Perry, three-time Governor of Texas, who ran the state for a total of 14 years. He tried unsuccessfully to gain the Republican Party nomination for President in both 2012 and 2016 and is now a part of the Trump administration.
In today’s song a wealthy motorist picks up a poor hitchhiker who is on his way to Haskell and ends up envying his simpler lifestyle. The song has been recorded by George Hamilton IV and Lyle Lovett amongst others but here’s a version by Michael Martin Murphy who co-wrote the song.
“Well he was grinning like a possum and a mighty happy rascal
And he said good-bye when I let him out in Haskell
And that’s about the last of that road tramp
I ever have seen
But I’m still wishing, to this very day
That he had my clothes and my big Chevrolet
And it was me going to Haskell with a woman down in Abilene”