The second African American to live in Amarillo, one of the first African American cowboys in the Panhandle, and the original founder of a major subdivision of Amarillo, Mr. Matthew "Bones" Hooks is quite the figure in Amarillo History.

Courtesy: Panhandle Plains Historical Museum
Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum

Born on November 6th, 1867 to former slaves in Southeast Texas, Hooks would grow up working in the area until finally landing a job as a ranch hand. Earning his way up as one of the first African American cowboys in the region, Hooks would find much success in his career as a ranch hand.

Eventually branching out to horse-breaking, Hooks became such a skilled horseman that cowboys all around the area would bring horses that were difficult to break as a challenge to him. Although many horses were brought to him, none were able to beat him.

Between 1986 and 1990, Hooks moved to Clarendon where he continued to work as a cowboy and established one of West Texas' first African American churches. In 1900 Porter would move to a young Amarillo, where he would find work as a hotel porter and eventually train porter on the Santa Fe Railroad.

Retiring in 1930, Hooks would now turn his attention to civic work in many different forms. He served a major role in helping develop the North Heights neighborhood, making significant contributions in any way he could. He would also serve as "Range Boss" for the Dogie Club, an organization that focused on helping the African American youth in that area.

Amarillo Public Library Archives
Amarillo Public Library Archives

He was well-known in his community for his generosity and also for his custom of sending white flowers to those in and out of his community. He even at some point sent flowers to the likes of Franklin D. Roosevelt and each of the 48 leaders of nations when convened in San Francisco.

Although he spent most of his life helping others, Hooks himself was penniless but when he fell ill later in his life, a collection of friends and those he had helped came together to create a fund to care for him.

He died in 1951 at the age of 84, living a life full of support and service to others.

So here's to you, Mr. Matthew "Bones" Hooks.

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