The legacy of Matthew “Bones” Hooks

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — In the heart of North Heights is a park that bears the name of the man who helped establish the neighborhood and helped grow it into the community that it is today.
That park is Bones Hooks Park. Bones Hooks is a pioneer and a man of many firsts here on the High Plains.

There is a mural in Canyon with four figures that made the High Plains what it is today.
One of those figures is Matthew Hooks, better known as “Bones.”

Hooks was born in 1867 to formerly enslaved parents in Robertson County and by the age of nine, Hooks drove a chuck wagon for Denton County cattleman D. Steve Donald.

Hooks was one of the first black cowboys to work alongside whites as a ranch hand.

“It was black cowboys like Bones Hooks that kind of shaped what we are today. They played a huge role here in Amarillo, Texas and Bones Hooks legacy continues throughout our city today,” said David McCoy Lovejoy, first vice president of the Amarillo Branch NAACP

A major contribution Hooks worked on was to establish the North Heights subdivision in Amarillo.

Courtesy: Panhandle Plains Historical Museum

Board member on the North Heights Advisory Association Executive Committee, Melodie Graves, said the neighborhood has become a vibrant community

“You look at Delvin’s, you look at Golden Gate, at 18th Street Discount and Café. The Norths Heights area is growing as a part of the rezoning committee, we are working to bring more business to our community,” said Graves.

Hooks’ concern for young people led him to create the Dogie Club, an organization for underprivileged black children. It gave boys the chance to camp and play organized sports. They planted trees on the property that would one day be renamed in Hooks’ honor.

Courtesy: Amarillo Public Library Archives

His generosity left him penniless toward the end of his life, but Hooks’ kindness was paid back when friends established a fund for his care when he became ill.

“It shows the power of one person, what that one person can do with their vision, and what it can change,” said Graves.

Hooks died in 1951 at the age of 84.

Hooks was also well known for giving white flowers to the families of deceased pioneers.
It is said he sent over 500 single flowers in his lifetime, including one to each of the 48 nations present at the 1945 United Nations Conference in San Francisco.

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