Pioneer, jurist left lasting marks on city
George Wolffarth worked his way from his cowboy saddle to a head seat in a bank boardroom, a testament to early opportunities on the South Plains.
As fences below the Caprock forced open range cattle operations northward, Wolffarth built herds of his own in Lubbock County while still working as a hand at the 22 Ranch in the 1880s and ’90s. Wolffarth and his cousins, Van and Will Sanders, eventually established themselves on the west line of Lubbock County.
As his Hereford ranch prospered in the county, he and other successful men saw a need and transferred a frontier village into a bustling “hub city.”
Wolffarth served on the original committee to form Lubbock, was the first Lubbock County clerk and served on the first Lubbock City Commission where he was assigned the responsibility of overseeing police and fire operations.
He never strayed far from a ranching background, but in 1906 he saw the need for a second Lubbock bank and opened the doors of Citizens National Bank. Records reflect on the first day of business the bank had capital stock of $50,000, deposits of $13,275.50 and loans of $4,963.20. He remained president until 1920.
He and brother Eastin established the town of Wolfforth in 1916 near the Spade Ranch. Almost immediately confusion resulted over the spelling of the settlement’s name. For a time the post office and the railroad depot had different versions. Eventually the misspelled post office version was adopted.
Halbert O. Woodward
From the bench of U.S. District Judge Halbert O. Woodward, Lubbock and its schools found equality.
Woodward, appointed by President Lyndon Johnson, was sworn in as federal judge for the Northern District in June 1968.
He soon became embroiled in two issues sweeping the nation — forced busing and school desegregation.
Finding the Lubbock Independent School District operated a segregated system, Woodward ordered the busing of white students to Dunbar High and Struggs Junior High in East Lubbock four days before the start of the 1970-71 school year.
In 1978, he ordered the desegregation of nine more high-minority schools, including seven elementaries on the city’s east and north sides. In 1981, he ordered the desegregation of Bozeman Elementary and Matthews Junior High.
At one point, the LISD was busing 2,000 students daily.
Woodward dismissed the 21-year-old desegregation lawsuit in 1991, ruling the district had rooted out all vestiges of racial discrimination.
Equality, this time in city elections, again came before Woodward in 1976 when Gene Gaines filed a lawsuit to have the at-large city council system declared unconstitutional.
Woodward upheld the at-large system in 1979, but a federal appeals court sent it back to Woodward.
In March 1983, the veteran jurist ruled the at-large system was unconstitutional, and he carved the city into six single-member districts that would elect representatives with the mayor elected at-large.
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