History and Reminiscences of Denton County, Texas
In writing the history of Denton County and her pioneers, the task was found hard because of the fragmentary nature of her written history, and on account of having to harmonize the discrepancies in her traditional history as related by the remaining pioneers.
All of the early public records of the county were destroyed Christmas week, 1875, when the courthouse burned.
Much of the county's traditionary history has been consigned with her pioneers to the grave. The gathering and collecting of facts and the elimination of fiction have had our most careful attention. But where so many conflicts in statements existed, some errors reasonably may be expected. And when writing of Denton County we must begin with it in its unorganized form as the western frontier of Fannin County; and "share and share alike" with all the counties carved out of this common territory, we must begin with its first settlement. The North American Indian claimed it as his hunting grounds; the Republic of Texas claimed it as her public domain, and through her agents, the Peters Colony, was making title, and a conflict at birth was on.
In order to separate the old settlers from the new, an "arbitrary period" had to be chosen, and for many reasons 1866 was selected as a partition denoting the cessation of the old life and the beginning of the new. It was called Reconstruction. We have found it hard to pursue our subject and properly observe the order of current events, hence we have arranged a part of it topically and a part as reminiscence. The temptation to make this a biography of a great people was overcome by the magnitude of the task, and a roll-call of all the old settlers was substituted in lieu thereof. Let the glories be shared by all in common.
A few pictures of old-timers from the various settlements of the county have been secured to represent the type of our ancestors. Some of these pictures were reproduced from daguerreotypes, or "tintypes," as they are frequently termed. This accounts for the indistinct details of a few of the pictures. Some of the portraits represent more recent photography. One will observe that the early-day people dressed differently from the people of the present day.
Some of the cities and towns of Denton County are inadequately represented. This is due to the author's inability to enlist the interest and cooperation of individuals who were in position to furnish required data, for which repeated requests were made.
It has been impossible to verify the orthography of numerous proper names. Some names were furnished by individuals who had borne them in memory for many years, and the verification of such names is especially difficult.
To Mr. W.C. Edwards, editor of the Denton Record- Chronicle, grateful acknowledgments are due for assistance in securing data for this work, for the use of a number of valuable cuts, and for other courtesies. For data of value acknowledgment is made to Mr. C.A. Williams and to many others. For service, in the form of research and assistance in reading proof, appreciation is due to Mr. James D. Baldwin. Mr. William H. McNitzky and his corps of assistants who have given careful attention to the mechanical details of this work, have, in this manner, contributed much to the book.
To the members of the Subscription Committee of the Old Settlers' and Veterans' Association of Denton County profound gratitude is due. A labor of love has been their solicitation of subscriptions. Prompted by the desire to make possible the issuance of this history, a number of loyal and energetic individuals have been unusually active, and correspondingly successful, in securing subscriptions. To the unselfish activity of these individuals is due a great measure of credit for these printed pages. Although not a member of the Subscription Committee, Mr. A.L. Lane, Sr., of Wichita Falls, Texas, has labored generously in behalf of this history, and has secured scores of subscriptions.
The chapter of Reminiscences contains narratives as record- ed by various pioneers. The reader will observe that events and conditions are treated differently by various contributors, and that discrepancies are due to the fact that no two men observe exactly alike.
The compilation of this history has been a great and un- remunerated task. The writer has felt that this labor should have been done by others a long time ago. But the fact that it had not been done, also the further fact that the writer was chosen for it by the Old Settlers' and Veterans' Association is justification, if justification be necessary, for undertaking what many regard as an important work.
Table of Contents
I. Denton Territory as Represented in the Early Republic and State Governments 1
II. Natural Resources and Inducements to the Immigrant and the Privations of the Immigrant 8
III. The First Settlers, Location and Naming of County 13
IV. The Pioneer Settlers and Settlements, and the Roll Call 27
V. Early Taxpayers, Prairie Fires, and Wild Horses 90
VI. Secession and War — Our Contribution of Men — Its Effects on the Morals of Our People 95
VII. Reconstruction and Crime Wave 120
VIII. Denton County Officers 133
IX. The Indian 153
X. Commerce and Transportation 167
XI. Old Settlers' and Veterans' Association 174
XII. Public Free Schools 186
XIII. Cities and Towns 263
XIV. Denton County and the War with Germany 279
XV. Reminiscences 286
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Denton County in 1836 was a part of Red River County under the Mexican government and was represented in the Secession Convention, which met at Washington on the first day of March 1836, by Richard Ellis, Collin McKinney, Albert H. Lattimore and Robert H. Hamilton. Richard Ellis was made president of the Convention and signed the Declaration of Independence which provided for the first Congress of the Republic of Texas which met at Washington October 3, 1836. Denton territory was represented in the Senate by Richard Ellis and the Lower House by Doctor Mansell W. Mathews, George W. Wright and Collin McKinney.