Baylor County, Texas
Baylor County, 1922. The legislature created Baylor County February 1, 1858, and named it for Dr. Henry Baylor, who was killed at the Dawson massacre in 1842. No settlements were made until the decade of the '70s. and the county was organized April 13, 1879. Among the pioneers was an interesting colony planted in 1878. In August of that year about forty persons arrived, under the lead of Captain J. R. McLain, having come all the way from the State of Oregon to find homes in North Texas and at that time it was said only ten other families lived in the county and those in the southeastern corner. The town which they began to build and which was chosen as the county seat was named Oregon. A visitor to the place in January, 1879, wrote that part of the inhabitants lived in caves on account of the scarcity of lumber and the distance from markets, and the dozen houses in process of construction were mostly of stone. Excellent building stone in large quantities is an important resource of the county, and at the present time a large part of the residence and business buildings at Seymour and elsewhere in the county are constructed of that material. The caves, which in 1879 comprised the habitations of the people, were dug out of the hillside, and at the side farthest from the entrance was placed a fireplace and flue, securing good ventilation. The Village of Oregon thus started was a transient center, for when the newly elected officers of Baylor County were sworn in they decided, after much delay, to locate the county seat on 640 acres of state school land near the center of the county, and thus Seymour was brought into being as the principal town of the county.
At the census of 1880, 715 inhabitants were found in Baylor County. The population at successive decades has been : In 1890, 2,595 ; in 1900, 3,052; in 1910, 8,411, and in 1920, 7,027. A considerable element of population comes from Austria. and the last census enumerated about five hundred inhabitants either natives or in the second generation. In 1881 the value of taxable property in the county was $614,849 ; in 1909. $5,249,873 ; in 1913, $6,249,391; in 1920, $7,085,942.
Thirty years ago the limited population in the county devoted all their energies to the raising of cattle and horses. In 1882 there were about 22,000 cattle, about 900 horses and mules, and a few hogs. Agriculture had received scarcely any attention, only about a thousand acres having been brought under the plow. The only settlements deserving the name of villages in 1882 were Seymour, St. Bernard and Round Timber.
The first railroad was Wichita Valley, built from Wichita Falls to Seymour in 1890. During the present century it was continued to the southwest and was connected with the Abilene and Northern in 1907. About 1911 the Gulf, Texas & Western was completed between Seymour and Jacksboro. Seymour is an important trade and shipping center, and its population in 1910 was 2,029.
The general development of the county's resources are indicated by the following statistics from the last census. There were 1,040 farms, as compared with 327 in 1900. Of the total area of 563,200 acres, 491,218 acres were in farms or ranches ; about 102,000 acres were "improved land," as compared with about 47,000 acres so classified ten years before. There were enumerated in 1920: Cattle, about 11,185; horses and mules, 6,421 ; hogs, 5,041. Cotton is the chief crop, 38,014 acres being planted in 1909 ; 12,213 acres in corn. 5,517 acres in hay and forage crops, 2,621 acres in wheat, 2,402 acres in kafir corn and milo maize, and 1,006 acres in oats. About eleven thousand five hundred orchard fruit trees were enumerated. - History of Texas, 1922, by W. Barrett Travis.