The Analysis of Hartdale

I have moved my Blog “Walking Truth” to the Website  Since I have this space on Word Press I have decided to make public a manuscript which I have hesitated to publish.  I assume that in this format, and on this forgotten page, it will go largely unnoticed and yet can be utilized as a public record of the impact of incidences of violence on the corporate psyche of a community.



I would like to thank Texas Governor Ann Richardson and her office for providing funding for this project and for my supervisor, Bernard Gerald, at the University of Texas for suggesting an application of my Doctoral research.  Dr. Gerald brought my doctoral research on violence and identity as a corporate and learned process, to the attention of Samuel Souder, head of the Texas Department of Health.  Mr. Souder provided funding, through the Governor’s Office, for my two year project and access to the peculiar town of Hartdale Texas.[1]  I would also like to thank the residents of the town of Hartdale, the Head to Tail News and its manager Joel Hogue and especially City Manager Bob Orr for allowing me full access to the public records and citizens of Hartdale.

The location of Hartdale as a key station on the Rock Island and Pacific Railway and its establishment as a key city in the Texas Panhandle cattle industry may help explain its peculiar incorporation of a death dealing identity but it does not identify or explain the function of that construct.  In my doctoral research, I make the claim that there is an anatomy of identity of place (families, corporations, towns, cities) traceable to exposure to experiences of oppression and/or violence which means there are markers – psychological and experiential – which can both predict future occurrences of personal and social disorder and which can be traced to certain corporate psychological formations and events.  My hometown of Hartdale, due to its small size and high incidence of destructiveness, presented the opportunity to test this hypothesis and to test certain possible modes of intervention.  The analysis makes the cumulative case for the evolution of a particular presentation of masochistic identity that has its generative root in a shared society.  The social group, in other words, tends to determine the range of responses and provides the means and limitations of apprehending human experience.  The formation of this shared society entails taking most all the variables, economic, religious, geographical/climatic etc. into account.  Obviously, a process of selectivity is involved in determining the relevance of certain variables but this selection is the end result of casting a very wide net.

In Culture and Depression Arthur Kleinman and Byron Good call for a renewed emphasis upon clinical descriptive research on the phenomenology of depressive disorders by focusing upon the broadest issues of the individual in the life-world analogous to Hallowell’s notion of the self in the “culturally constituted behavioral environment.” They maintain that a phenomenology of depression must proceed from a reconstruction of the individual in the lifeworld—” the culturally organized patterns of perceiving time, space, body, and person, the symbolic organization of experience, the nature of ‘realities’ in the social and psychological life, and the forms of discourse and social interaction through which such realities are constructed.”[2]


In addition to surveying the general sociological conditions (economic, agronomic, etc.) the data below has been collected by means of extended interview and research and, through coordination with the offices of the State Board of Health, I established a counselling center which obtained clients on both a walk-in basis and through the mandate of Child Welfare Services and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.  The Loraine County Coroner provided essential medical data and the Loraine County Sheriff’s Department and St. Mary’s Hospital allowed me access to their archives.


The Panhandle of Texas consists of high plains, ranging from 4700 – 2000 feet above sea level, theoretically allowing for several different forms of farming and ranching.  Hartdale which sits at 3000 feet above sea level serves as the supply headquarters and shipping center for ranching in the northwest Texas Panhandle and is the main supply center for a multitude of agricultural endeavors with the Hartdale Grange Office representing local agricultural interests.  The town has modern schools (k-12), churches (Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Church of Christ, Catholic, Assembly of God, two Methodist churches but with no Lutheran presence) and several industries (e.g., a cheese factory, a mobile home manufacturing plant, a fertilizer plant and an irrigation pipe plant), a feedlot and two grain elevators.

The celebration called “Days of the Cinco Peso” commemorates the fact (without actually naming any individual) that Bucky Roberts of Terry’s Texas Rangers fame set up the headquarters of the Texas Rangers at this location as it afforded easy access to Bonham Springs in the Rita Blanca Canyon and served as the staging ground for the final roundup of the Comanche and Apache.  Set within the larger events of Reconstruction and election of the first democratic governor after the Civil War, Texas faced a financial crisis and its primary resource was its vast lands to the West and North.  Under the direction of Governor Oran M. Roberts, William S. Mabry was appointed surveyor of the Oldham Land District and he established a land office to survey the lands of public domain under the Checkerboard System (an attempt to break the Panhandle into small ranch and farm size acreages).  The failure of the Checkerboard system was also insured by Governor Robert’s quick willingness to negotiate with a group of Chicago investors for 3,000, 000 acres in exchange for 3,000, 000 dollars’ investment in the rebuilding of the Capitol building in Austin.






[1] Names have been changed to protect the identity of those herein described.

[2] Julius Rubin, Religious Melancholy and Protestant Experience in America, 1994, 9



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