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Loving County, Texas

Loving County, Texas
Map of Texas highlighting Loving County
Location in the state of Texas
Map of the United States highlighting Texas
Texas's location in the U.S.
Founded 1931
Named for Oliver Loving
Seat Mentone
Largest community Mentone
 • Total 677 sq mi (1,753 km2)
 • Land 669 sq mi (1,733 km2)
 • Water 7.8 sq mi (20 km2), 1.1%
 • (2010) 82
 • Density 0.1/sq mi (0/km²)
Congressional district 23rd
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website .us.lovingcountytexaswww

Loving County is a

  • Loving County from the Handbook of Texas Online Contains valuable information on early history of Loving County.
  • Loving County Texas Almanac Page
  • Mentone from Brief but detailed report on life in Mentone and Loving County. Includes several videos of Mentone and interviews with the local sheriff and judge.
  • Loving County at Numerous photos and stories about Loving County and Mentone. A small picture of the "wanted" poster for Mssrs. Pendarvis, Emory and Duncan may also be seen here
  • Inventory of county records, Loving County Courthouse, Mentone, Texas, hosted by the Portal to Texas History
  • Loving County Profile Detailed information about Loving County population.

External links

  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Loving County - Handbook of Texas
  8. ^ Odessa American Includes details on Edna Dewees, first elected female sheriff in Texas
  9. ^
  10. ^ Loving County, Austin Community College
  11. ^ Free Town Project
  12. ^
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  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Fact Finder at
  17. ^ Texas Association of Counties
  18. ^ CNN: voting results for Texas counties
  19. ^
  20. ^ Lyrics to the song "Loving County"


See also

"Loving County" is the name of a song written and performed by Charlie Robison. It appears on his 1998 album Life of the Party.[20]

In popular culture

Ghost towns

Census-designated place


Loving County is served by the Wink-Loving Independent School District. The county's school system was closed and consolidated into Wink's ISD in 1972 because the enrollment had fallen to two pupils.


Loving County's economy is based almost entirely upon oil and gas drilling, ranching, and county services.


[19] Loving County has voted for the Republican candidate in every presidential election since 1972, except in 1992 when the county backed independent candidate


With an average as of 2010 of only 0.0467 inhabitants/km² (0.1211/sq mi), the county is also the least densely populated county outside of Alaska. (Lake and Peninsula Borough and North Slope Borough in Alaska are both lower, as is the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, which is not a county.)

The county is the least populous county in the United States, with a 2010 census population of only 82 persons (an increase of 22.4% over the 2000 figure of 67 residents). However, during the early part of the 21st century, the population declined before increasing, with a 2007 estimate of 55 and a 2008 estimate of 42, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. In the 2008 presidential election, the county recorded 79 votes, suggesting the population had risen since the 2007 estimate.[18] The 2010 census figure confirms that the population had increased since 2000.

Loving County was the only county in the United States with no people below the poverty line as of 2000.[16] However, as of 2010, this is no longer true.[17]

Loving County's population has been rapidly declining in recent years, with a decline of over 35% between 1990 and 2000, and another 22% of its population lost between 2000 and 2004. However, the county's population increased 22.4% from 67 residents in 2000 to 82 residents in 2010.

The median income for a household in the county was $40,000, and the median income for a family was $53,750. Males had a median income of $25,833 versus $0 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,084.

In the county, the population was spread out with 13 people under the age of 18, one between 18 and 24, 18 from 25 to 44, 24 from 45 to 64, and 11 who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 10 females there are 11.61 males. For every 10 females age 18 and over, there are 12.50 males.

There were 31 households out of which 5 had children under the age of 18 living with them, 17 were married couples living together, 2 had a female householder with no husband present, and 11 were non-families. Ten households were made up of individuals and 2 consisted of someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. Average household size was 2.16, while the average family size was 2.65.

As of the census of 2000, there were 67 people, 31 households, and 19 families living in the county. The population density was 0.1 people per square mile (0.03/km²). There were 70 housing units at an average density of 0.1 per square mile (0.04/km²). Of the 67 residents, 60 identified as White, no person identified themselves as Black, African American, Native American, Asian, or Pacific Islander. 6 identified as "some other race", and 1 person identified as belonging to two or more races. In addition, 7 people identified as being of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin of any race. It is one of only a few counties in the U.S. — outside of the Northeast — where the largest self-identified ancestry group is Irish American.


Adjacent counties

Major highways

Loving is the smallest county by area in the Permian Basin region.

The Pecos River is the county's western boundary, forming the Red Bluff Reservoir along its northwestern border with Reeves County, Texas and Eddy County, New Mexico. The terrain of Loving County is described as flat desert, with a few low hills. Desert shrubs, range grass and cacti abound, with salt cedars along the river. Elevations vary from 2,686 to 3,311 feet (1,009 m) above sea level.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 677 square miles (1,750 km2), of which 669 square miles (1,730 km2) is land and 7.8 square miles (20 km2) (1.1%) is water.[12]


Although Pendarvis, Emory and Duncan claimed to have legally bought 126 acres (0.51 km2) in Loving County in 2005, and registered to vote accordingly, the county sheriff, Billy Burt Hopper, determined that this land had been sold to a different buyer. Misdemeanor charges were filed against the three men, who had left the state by this time. Pendarvis said that he had a canceled check to prove his purchase of the land in question, but no deed was ever produced, and the original landowners denied having sold land to Pendarvis or his associates. The three were subsequently featured on a "wanted" poster issued by Sheriff Hopper and the local Texas Rangers (displayed at Hopper's office), and threatened with arrest should they return to Loving County.

According to a website for Pendarvis' movement, their objectives were to "remove oppressive Regulations...and stop enforcement of Laws prohibiting [11]

In February 2006, Loving County became the focus of an article in The New York Times detailing an alleged attempt by Lawrence Pendarvis, Bobby Emory, and Don Duncan to "take over" Loving County and its county seat, Mentone. According to the article, Pendarvis and his associates, part of the Free Town Project, planned to buy parcels of land in the county, then move in enough of their supporters to outvote earlier residents and take control of local government.[10]

2006 Takeover attempt by the "Free Town Project"

Loving County was the home of the first elected female sheriff in Texas, Edna Reed Clayton Dewees. Dewees was appointed to the job in January 1945, then won an election to continue in the office through 1947. She never carried a firearm, and reported only two arrests during her entire term. Later she would return as a county district clerk, a job she held from 1965 to 1986. After retirement she lived on a ranch near Mentone[8] until 22 January 2009 when she died in Del Rio.[9]

Oil was discovered in 1921, leading to a population increase in Loving County. By 1930, there were 195 residents, mostly living in what would become the town of Mentone, which became the county seat when Loving was reconstituted in 1931. By 1933, the population had peaked at 600, only to begin a steady decline which continues to the present day.

Loving is the only county in Texas to be incorporated twice, first in 1893 and again in 1931. Its initial organization was effected by a canal company founded in Reeves County.

Loving County is named for Oliver Loving,[6] a cattle rancher and pioneer of the cattle drive who, along with Charles Goodnight, developed the Goodnight-Loving Trail. He was mortally wounded by Comanches while on a cattle drive in 1867 in the vicinity of the county.

From 1837 to 1874, the area of modern Loving County was part of the Bexar land district. In 1874 it was separated from Bexar County, becoming a part of Tom Green County.

Prehistorically, the area had many springs with potable water that supported wildlife and nomadic hunters. Antonio de Espejo visited the area in 1583 and crossed the Pecos River. Having surveyed the area in 1854 for a railroad company, John Pope returned in 1855 to start a camp in northwestern Loving County and establish artesian wells in the area, but the venture was unsuccessful and was abandoned in 1861.

Exploration and incorporation



  • History 1
    • Exploration and incorporation 1.1
    • 2006 Takeover attempt by the "Free Town Project" 1.2
  • Geography 2
    • Major highways 2.1
    • Adjacent counties 2.2
  • Demographics 3
  • Politics 4
  • Economy 5
  • Education 6
  • Communities 7
    • Census-designated place 7.1
    • Ghost towns 7.2
  • In popular culture 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Part of the Haley Ranch, founded by the father of Texas historian J. Evetts Haley, is in Loving County, with another portion in neighboring Winkler County.


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