Did You Know How Deaf Smith County in Texas Come to Be?

In the early ’90s, it was home to Texas’ best peanut butter

Deaf Smith County sign
What? There’s a county in the United States named after a deaf person?

That’s the first thought most of us have upon finding out the existence of Deaf Smith County, Texas.

Deaf Smith County is indeed named after a deaf soldier by the name of Erastus “Deaf” Smith-pronounced as “Dif” Smith! He was the first to arrive at the Alamo when it fell.

Who was he?

Erastus Smith was an incredible soldier, spy, guide, and scout. He fought in the Texas Revolution where his level-headedness and calm demeanor earned him fame as a “dead shot.” This means due to his incredible eyesight, he never missed a target while shooting.

After the war, he was a renowned scout and was in the Texas Rangers. His group had twenty rangers; they later went to battle a Mexican force stronger than and outnumbered them. With Deaf Smith leading them, the Rangers won and lost only two soldiers. This advanced Deaf Smith’s military career and cemented his legacy.

As a man, he was described to be very reserved and a man of few words, often only answering and answering with single monosyllable words such as “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.” He married a Mexican woman and had children later in life and passed away in his home in San Antonio, Texas.

The county was named after him 50 years after his death.

Movies & TV Show Representation

The stories of the Texas Revolution and Mexican-American War have been a constant source of inspiration for many films and television programmes. Deaf Smith has made an appearance in the majority of the films, however in the most recent interpretation Texas Rising he is represented as a main character.

In History Channel’s 10-episode miniseries, Texas Rising (2015,) Deaf Smith is one of the main characters and is played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan of The Walking Dead fame.

Texas Rising - Deaf Smith
Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Deaf Smith on History Channel’s miniseries

What’s the county like now?

Today, Deaf Smith County is a 1.25 million acre section of Northwest Texas and its center is Hereford. It holds the moniker of “Beef Capital of the World” for its abundance of cattle.

Cattle in Hereford, Texas

The county is responsible for the majority of Texas’ water supply.

Yes, there is a reservoir there and it is responsible for supplying to the rest of the state. The county’s elevation and position is ideal for healthy rainfall (averaging at 20 inches per year) and the higher elevation prevents the evaporation of the rainwater which makes collecting water easy.

Because of the water, it was famous for being the “County Without A Toothache.”

In the 1950s, Deaf Smith County was legendary in Texas for having zero cavities among its residents. Rumors spread that anyone who moved to Deaf Smith County could grow a new set of teeth! (It was not true, of course–no one can “grow” new teeth.)

The county’s secret? Its mineral rich water and soil. The soil was so rich in minerals that any grains, fruit, and vegetable grown was complete in nutrition and strengthened teeth. The residents in Deaf Smith County ate so well that they mostly didn’t need a dentist!

The healthiest teeth in the world were in Deaf Smith county

It’s home to supposedly legendary peanut butter

The Arrowhead Mills brand was founded and set up here in the 1960s, and they made a notably delicious peanut butter called Deaf Smith County Peanut Butter. It was completely organic peanut butter made with the skins on the peanut, lending itself to the flavor people of Texas enjoyed. In the early 90’s, the brand was renamed to Arrowhead Mills 100% Organic Valencia Peanut Butter.

Deaf Smith County's Peanut butter was made with the skins on the peanut

Sources:

Erastus “Deaf” Smith

“Deaf Smith’s Secret: An Explanation of the Deaf Smith Country”

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