Cities, Towns & Communities
Coke County History 1922. This county was detached from the extensive territory of original Tom Green County on March 13, 1889, and a county government was organized April 23 of the same year. The first county seat was Hayrick, a village name no longer existing, but in 1891 the government was moved to Robert Lee, near the center of the county. The county seat is on the north bank of the main branch of the Colorado River, which runs centrally through the county from northwest to east. This river, with its tributaries, furnished the water for stock purposes during the first settlement, and the greater part of agricultural development has been along the same streams. A small area of land is irri gated in the Colorado Valley.
Near the northeast corner of the county, but across the line in Runnels County, was situated old Fort Chadbourne, a military post established before the war. It was under the protection of this fort that the stockmen ventured out to the extreme frontier, and the existence of Fort Concho, some miles to the south, during the years following the war was another fact favoring the occupation of what is now Coke County. Permanent development began with the decade of the ’80s. In 1880 Nolan County, on the north, had a population of about 700, while Runnels County, on the east, had about 1,000. Early in the ’80s the Texas & Pacific was built through the tier of counties on the north, while in the same decade the Santa Fe reached San Angelo. These facts contributed to give Coke County a population of 2,059 in 1890, the year following the establishment of the county. Its population in 1900 was 3,430; in 1910, 6,412, and in 1920, 4,557. About 1910 the Kansas City, Mexico & Orient Railroad was put in operation from Sweetwater to San Angelo, crossing the eastern edge of Coke County. Along this railroad the towns of Tennyson, Bronte, Rawlings and Fort Chadbourne were established, and other towns off the railroad are Robert Lee, still the county seat, and Edith and Sance.
The assessed valuation of property in the county in 1903 was $1,601,747; in 1909, $2,902,621; in 1913, $3,215,825, and in 1920, $3,102, 585. The county has its chief resources in stock raising, while agriculture has made considerable progress, especially during the last fifteen years. In 1910 there were 969 farms, while the number in 1900 was 480. The total area of the county is 595,840 acres, the greater part of which was occupied in farms at the last census, and about 66,000 acres were “improved land,” while at the preceding census the amount of land in cultivation was about 21,000 acres. The stock interests in 1920 were : Cattle, 9,004 ; horses and mules, about 5,801; sheep, 12,137. The farmers place their chief dependence in cotton, and in 1909 the acreage in that crop was 29,690 ; in kaffir corn and milo maize, 6,279; in hay and forage crops, 6,812; and in corn, 2,832. The soils in many parts of the county are adapted to fruit and truck crops, and the last census reported about 18,000 trees in orchard fruits. There is something like 100,000 acres of tillable land that is susceptible to irrigation from the Colorado River in this county, and as there is now a plan on foot to dam the river, the thing is a possibility. The West Texas Chamber of Commerce has taken the matter up with the Federal Government to finance the proposition.
Coke has ten gins, twenty-three schools and has three steel bridges across the Colorado River. This county has the reputation of being the best cow country in Texas.
Robert Lee, the county seat, has four churches, one bank, two gins and one newspaper. – History of Texas, 1922, by W. Barrett Travis.