Callahan County History 1922
Callahan County 1922. The Legislature of 1858 gave the boundaries to Callahan County. but its population did not justify a county organization until 1877. The first county seat was Belle Plain, [sic – actually Callahan City was the county seat for a few months in 1877] but when the Texas & Pacific Railway was constructed through the county in 1881 its line was six miles from the county seat and the Government was subsequently transferred to Baird. The other railway stations established soon after the railroad came were Clyde, Vigo and Putnam.
From the early ’70s, when the cattlemen first occupied the county. its distinctive character has been that of a stock raising region. The greater part of the county’s area is a rolling prairie, best adapted to pasturage, while the best agricultural lands are found in the valleys. Thirty years ago many of the stockmen gave their attention to sheep raising, but with the narrowing of the range limits the modern rancher has concentrated on cattle, and the general activities of the farmer have been greatly diversified.
Of a total area of 546,560 acres, the last census reported 466,482 .acres included in farms, and about 120,000 acres “improved land,” as compared with about 66,000 acres at the preceding census. There were 1,837 farms in 1910, as compared with 1,176 in 1900. Stock interests were enumerated in 1920 as follows : Cattle, 18.000; horses and mules, 7,105.
Some noteworthy progress has been made in elevating Callahan County to a place among the fruit sections of West Texas, and the last census found about 102,000 orchard trees, besides approximately 17,000 pecan trees.
Previous to 1880 there was no separate census taken in Callahan County. In 1880 the population was 3,453 ; in 1890, 5,457; in 1900, 8,768 ; in 1910, 12,973 ; in 1920, 11,844. The value of taxable property in 1882 was $1,174,389; in 1903, $3,192,890; and in 1913, $6,073,539 ; in 1920, $7,343,987.
While the Texas & Pacific was constructed across the county in 1881, the line of the Texas Central crossed the extreme northeastern corner in 1882, and within the present decade a branch of the same road has been constructed across the south end of Eastland County to the town of Cross Plains in Callahan. The chief city is Baird, the county seat, which in 1900 had a population of 1,502, and of 1,710 in 1910. Other towns are Cross Plains, Clyde, Putnam, Cottonwood, Eagle Cove and Eula.
In the midst of the many large herds of cattle and sheep in Callahan County was planted the county seat, Belle Plain, in 1878. This place was described at the time as Having “every indication of a rapidly growing frontier town ; the livery stable is the out-of-doors, the hotel a storehouse, and the county officials do business in one and the same room. Business being dull, the citizens are found playing quoits on the public square most of the time.” Continuing the same quotation : “A few miles east from Belle Plain is Callahan City, but, failing to receive the appointment of county seat, its days are numbered, there being only one store, constructed of upright posts with ground floor.”
As already mentioned, when the railroad came through Callahan County, Belle Plain was left to one side, population centered about the principal railroad station, and when the people again expressed preference for a county seat the railroad town won. – History of Texas, 1922, by W. Barrett Travis.