William and Ben Funderburg pre-empted the land on which Desdemona is built. The Funderburgs (who later sold their pre-emption to Bill Brown), Lewis Ellison and Uncle Johnny Caruth were the first settlers of Hogtown.
Mr. Frank Roach, the first merchant of Desdemona, put up a 12×16 store building, the boys lending a hand, which was dedicated with a dance the night of the first wedding in the new, old town. Mr. Willie Matthews and Miss Ella Parm, who were the contracting parties, remarried at Tom Prather’s home, Mary Caruth and Mr._______ “standing up” with them. After the ceremony the crowd, chaperoned by Lewis Ellison and wife, repaired to Mr. Roach’s new store and danced all night.
The first school house, eighteen by twenty feet, was built of hewed logs, with a log cut out at one end for a window. The benches were made by splitting trees in two—one of these with longer legs in front was put up by the window for a writing desk. Mr. Johnny Caruth and Charlie Mitchell were paid $80.00 to put up the house. Continue Reading Desdemona History Written in 1904 >>
Desdemona Cemetery. The town of Desdemona was a well established frontier community by the 1870s; a post office opened there in 1877. J. S. and Rosa Jones deeded one acre from the D. W. Funderburgh land survey for a “public graveyard” in 1880. The earliest marked grave is that of William E. Wright (1815-1878). It is likely that older unmarked burials exist among the oak trees here. Native rocks incised with initials or dates mark some early graves. Those buried here include pioneer settlers and their descendants; frontier matriarch Mrs. Kate (Kizzie) Shuler; veterans of the Civil War, World War I and World War II; Capt. A. J. O’Rear, a county commissioner and postmaster; S. E. Snodgrass, a physician who served the area for 50 years; local citizens who profited from the 1918 oil boom; Joe and Almeda Duke, owners of the site of the first oil gusher; and many young children. In 1918-19 oil discoveries surrounded the cemetery with flowing wells and oil derricks. H. H. Williams’ estate donated two acres of land in 1965. The Desdemona Cemetery association manages and maintains the site. The cemetery continues to serve the area as it has for more than a century. Historical marker, erected in 1996, located at Desdemona Cemetery, 1 mile south of Desdemona on SH 16.
Desdemona First Baptist Church. This church was organized by nine charter members in 1872. Religious observances began with brush arbor meetings organized in the summer of 1872 by The Rev. Johnnie Northcutt. Early settlers traveled by wagon, horseback, buggy, and on foot to meet under the canopy of Spanish oaks along the banks of nearby Hog Creek (about 1 mile south) to hear Northcutt’s Baptist sermons. Beginning in the fall of 1872 monthly services were held in a schoolhouse built near the Hog Creek site by Johnny Carruth and Charlie Mitchell. The congregation, originally called Rockdale Baptist Church, built their first sanctuary in the village of Desdemona shortly after the establishment of the community’s first post office in 1877. About that time the church was renamed Desdemona First Baptist Church. Box suppers, baptisms, picnic services at area lakes and water tanks, and lengthy revivals soon became routine activities for the congregation. The discovery of oil here transformed Desdemona from a small village to a booming oil town by 1919. To escape the crowded conditions of Desdemona the congregation built a new sanctuary at this site in 1921-22 on land donated by C.H. and Fannie Genoway. The congregation, active in various missionary efforts, continues to serve the local community. Historical marker, erected in 1993, located at 201 Genoway Ave., Desdemona.
Fort Blair, C.S.A. A few miles to the southwest [of Desdemona]. Largest far western “family fort” used throughout Civil War. Started by C.C. Blair, 1857 settler. 1861-1865 occupants were Wm. Arthur, Blair, J.M. Ellison; Jasper, Jim and Tom Gilbert; W.C. McGough, W.H. Mansker and sometimes others. The fort had 12 log cabins, 14 ft. square, 14 ft. apart in two parallel rows. Pickets walled spaces between cabins. Ammunition and supplies could be bought only by making long, dangerous trips to the Brazos settlements or to the south. Men were hard to spare for a trip, from the fort’s defenders against Indians. Candles, soap, soda, food, clothing were made in the fort, by use of fat renderings, beeswax, wood ashes, wild herbs, bark, roots, berries, animal skins. Families had to promote education for their children. Other area forts included Allen’s Ranch, also in Eastland County; Lynch and Green Ranches, Shackelford County; Buffalo Springs, Clay County; Bragg’s and Murray’s Forts, Young County; Picketville, Fort Davis, Owls Head and Mugginsville, Stephens County. After the war, Desdemona was established as a stop on the Old Waco-Ft. Griffin Road. It boomed to fame when oil was discovered in 1918. Its call for help to end lawlessness added new glory to Texas Rangers. Historical Marker, erected 1965, located at SH 16 at south city limits, Desdemona.
|Desdemona Street Scene, Desdemona, Texas||
Street Scene, Desdemona, Texas