Eastland. County seat, Eastland County. Named for William M. Eastland–Texas War for Independence hero who was in Mier Expedition against Mexico, and was executed in “Black Bean” lottery at Rancho Salado in 1842. Most noted early local people were Comanches, who resisted occupation of area by white settlers. The last recorded Indian raid in county was in 1874. Eastland was named county seat in an election on Aug. 2, 1875. With 250 people it was incorporated on June 6, 1891, and W.Q. Connellee was elected as mayor. After a discovery in 1917, one of the fabled oil booms of Texas occurred nearby, with Eastland center for legal matters. With oil priced $2.60 a barrel, many wells flowed at 10,000 barrels a day. The city quickly grew to 25,000 people; 5 banks prospered. Coming here to seek “black gold” were celebrities, including evangelist Billy Sunday, circus owner John Ringling, sports figures Jess Willard, Tex Rickard. An international wonder-story happened here: the old courthouse cornerstone was opened (on this site) in 1928 to reveal survival of “Old Rip”, a horned toad placed there with other mementoes on July 19, 1897. Continuing oil production, agricultural processing and clay products bolster the present economy. – Historical marker text. Marker erected 1968.
Eastland History 1922. The city of Eastland is the county seat of Eastland County and has been practically since its organization. Early in the oil development a city ordinance was adopted prohibiting any drilling within the city limits, and the city, which is under a commission form of government, has been projected and built upon lines of permanency and future development which are somewhat unique in an oil field city. The taxable values of the city are nearly ten million dollars. It has four banks, with an aggregate banking capital of $600,000 and deposits of nearly $5,000,000. Continue Reading Eastland History Written in 1922 >>
Early Banking in Eastland. The evolution of Eastland banks reflects local economic conditions and global influences. Soon after the Texas and Pacific Railway reached town in October 1880, a Mr. Berry of Stephenville opened the first bank in Eastland in Jacob Alexander’s dry goods store. Eastland National Bank began in the fall of 1890 on the square, with Major W.H. Parvin as president and John T. Yeargin as cashier. Eastland County Bank ran from the late 1890s to 1904 in the same location. City National Bank opened in 1905, with G.H. Connell as the first bank president and T.E. Downtain as vice-president. First State Bank opened in 1909 as the first state-chartered bank in Eastland. The next surge in new banks followed discovery of the Ranger Oil Field in 1917. In two years, Eastland’s population grew from 1,000 to 9,368, and banks in the county numbered eighteen. In 1919-21, First State Bank built a new headquarters on this site, designed by architect Henry T. Phelps. Oil production declined in the early 1920s, and First State absorbed smaller banks. City National Bank closed in 1921 after a brief incarnation as Security State Bank and Trust. First State Bank failed in January 1924, with Texas State Bank taking over the building and assets. A few months after the stock market crash of 1929, the county’s banks had decreased to seven and Texas State was Eastland’s only bank. After a run on deposits on October 1, 1931, Texas State Bank closed its doors for good. The town was without a bank until a new Eastland National Bank opened on this site in November 1934, as the city and nation slowly emerged from the Great Depression with strengthened banking regulations and a more diverse economy. Historical Marker, dedicted in 2006, located at 114 S. Seaman Street, Eastland.
First Christian Church organized in Eastland in 1878 under the Rev. Cyrus Scarborough. There were a number of important Eastland leaders, including city founders, among the church’s early membership. In 1886, the congregation moved from the county courthouse, where it had been holding services, into new facilities. In 1907, it moved again, constructing a building on this site. The church has a history of ecumenical programs, working in partnership with local Presbyterian and Methodist churches. The congregations have held combined summer evening worship services, as well as vacation bible schools and youth group events. The church has played an active role in the community it serves. The Men’s Fellowship Bible Class, also interdenominational, has been a vital part of Eastland. Members have developed many service projects, including construction of a park in an African American community during the era of segregation and the collection and delivery of items for Thanksgiving and Christmas drives. The church has focused on outreach through missions and local service, as members established a food pantry for senior citizens, a jail ministry and children’s mission fund to distribute supplies to needy students. The church has also opened its doors to local organizations and activities, including blood drives. After more than 100 years of service, First Christian Church of Eastland continues to be a spiritual, education and community leader for the area. – Historical Marker, erected 2006, located at 215 S Lamar, Eastland.
First United Methodist Church of Eastland. Methodist worship services were held in Eastland County as early as 1865. Soon after the town of Eastland was laid out in 1875, Methodists began meeting in a small log house. The congregation was organized and served for a time by the Rev. Melville B. Johnson, a circuit rider. Soon after this property was purchased in 1882, a building known as the “Little White Church” was constructed. It served the congregation until a new sanctuary was completed during the Eastland County oil boom of the 1920s. Historical Marker erected 1985, located at 215 S. Mulberry, Eastland.
Connellee-Majestic Theatre. Built in 1920 by C.U. Connellee, the “Father of Eastland”, this theatre hosted numerous road shows, musical performances, and plays, and was a noted showplace for many years. Purchased by Interstate Theatres in 1946, the building was remodeled for use as a movie theatre and renamed Majestic. Exhibiting Art Moderne elements, the theatre features a stuccoed facade, a bank of six entry doors, and a marquee, which was added in 1946. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark – 1988
Connellee House. Home of Charles U. Connellee (1851-1930), who opened much of West Texas to settlement. Coming as a surveyor from Kentucky in 1874, he platted town of Eastland and promoted it as a county seat. He built lower story of his home in 1876, of lumber hauled from Dallas by oxwagon, and kept open house for all of West Texas. Second story was added in 1924. Further remodeled in 1956, 1963, 1971, the structure is preserved by Judge and Mrs. Austin McCloud. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark – 1972