A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 24, 2006
Spur Capital of Texas (Gatesville nickname)

Gatesville in central Texas was named the “Spur Capital of Texas” by the Texas Legislature in 2001. The largest spur collection in the world is found in Gatesville’s Coryell Museum and Historical Center, the result of 77 years of collecting by Lloyd Mitchell (1907-1991).

City of Gatesville
Gatesville is the county seat of Coryell County, deep in the Heart of Central Texas. U.S. Hwy 84 and State Hwy 36 intersect here, giving easy access to Waco (35 miles ENE) and Temple (30 miles ESE), both located on I-35, one of the main transportation arteries of America, and chief trade route for NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Association). Only a few miles from Ft. Hood, 95 miles from Austin, 130 miles from Dallas, and 225 miles from Houston, Gatesville is conveniently located for business, travel, or shopping. For easy flight access, Gatesville Municipal Airport features a 3500-foot runway and a fixed-base operator providing service and refueling needs for small planes. Click here for a map of the Gatesville area.

We take pride in being a “family-friendly” community, with good schools, great health care, beautiful surroundings, abundant recreational opportunities, low taxes and lower crime! There’s no place like home in Gatesville - which includes one of the last fully-operational, full-time drive-in theaters in Texas! Be sure to visit the “Last Drive-In Picture Show,” located on Hwy 36. It’s a great way to revisit a classic part of America’s past! For more information on the drive-in, click here.

So come on in and have a look around at our home town, Gatesville, home of the 2001 Texas State 3A High School Football Champions (The Gatesville Hornets), and the Spur Capital of Texas!

Coryell Museum and Historical Center
The Mitchell Collection of several thousands of spurs has been said to be the largest spur collection in the world. Lloyd Mitchell (1907-1991), known as “Coach”, as he was head coach for the football, basketball, track, tennis and baseball teams at Gatesville High School from 1944-1955, amassed his spur, western memorabilia and sports collections over a period of 77 years. After leaving coaching, Mitchell taught history, civics and government full time. His love of history became evident to his students and others who knew him.

During summers off from his Baylor University college days, Mitchell worked on ranches, rode broncs and worked as a forrest ranger in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming. It was in these early years that he became a serious spur collector although he had owned his first pair of spurs at age 7 years. He told his son-in-law that he had found a single spur on a ranch in Wyoming and began to look for the other matching spur to make a pair. His search continued. His wife, Madge, his five children, many friends, athletes, students and peers brought spurs and other collectibles from around the world to his expanding collection. He was indeed a trader. On Lloyd Mitchell’s death his family chose to donate the world class collection to Coryell Museum and Historical Center in Gatesville. Coach Mitchell enjoyed collecting and trading, but it was a greater joy for him to share his love and knowledge of history with others.

Spurs used during the 13th century through the 20th century make up this collection. A greater number can be dated from the 1800’s through the early 1900’s and were made by spur makers: Bayers, Bianchi, Bischoff, Boone, Buermann, Crockett, Fleming, Garcia, Kelly, McChesney, Ricardo, and Shipley.

Numerous “gal-leg” spurs are exhibited. These were a favorite of Coach Mitchell. J.R. McChesney, a blacksmith in Oklahoma and Texas, has been credited with introducing the “gal-leg” shank after listening to cowboys’ stories about their ladies. McChesney made his first pair of spurs in 1887 from two teeth of an old piece of farm harrow. He split each tooth partway, hammered each to fit boot heels, cut a part off the shank, hammered it out and filed rowel spokes.

Official Capital Designations - Texas State Library
Spur Capital of Texas
House Concurrent Resolution No. 197, 77th Legislature, Regular Session (2001)

Texas Legislature
H.C.R. No. 197

WHEREAS, The central Texas city of Gatesville is the home of reportedly the largest spur collection in the world, the Lloyd and Madge Mitchell Collection at the Coryell Museum and Historical Center; and

WHEREAS, Lloyd Mitchell was a coach and a history, civics, and government teacher in Gatesville; he developed his interest in spurs as a boy; as he told the story, he found a single spur on his way to Yellowstone National Park and had been looking for its match ever since; and

WHEREAS, Over more than seven decades, friends, family, students, and colleagues all contributed to this growing treasure trove, which came to include western art and memorabilia and other artifacts; and

WHEREAS, The collection, which was donated to the Coryell Museum in 1995, contains spurs made from heavy iron, bronze, and wood, dating back to the 13th century; it features men’s and ladies’ boots as well as spurs, ladies’ petticoat spurs, military, rodeo, and novelty spurs, and spurs from across Europe, Russia, Morocco, the Philippines, Mexico, and South America; the spurs worn by Pancho Villa and Jacqueline Kennedy are among its notable highlights; and

WHEREAS, Residents of the city of Gatesville have demonstrated a commitment to preserving and bringing public attention to the Mitchell exhibits, and it is most fitting to accord the city official recognition at this time; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the 77th Legislature of the State of Texas hereby designate Gatesville as the Spur Capital of Texas and commend all those associated with the Mitchell Collection and the Coryell Museum and Historical Center for their significant efforts to preserve this unique slice of history for future generations.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, December 24, 2006 • Permalink