Jack County History Written in 1922
Jack County. This county was created from the territory of Cooke County in 1856 and given a county government on July 7, 1857. Young County to the West marked the extreme limit of settlement before the war, and in 1860 Jack County was credited with a population of 1,688. It illustrates the retrogression of the war decade to compare that population with the figures for 1870, at which time the census gave the county a population of 694 inhabitants. All industry came to an end and the majority of settlers retired to the more secure localities within the secondary line of frontier defenses.
After the Civil war the Federal Government took steps to again afford protection to the frontier, and about 1867 established Fort Richardson, near Jacksboro in Jack County. In a few years the rapid advance of population made the holding of this position superfluous, and the buildings were deserted and soon went to ruin. A paragraph in a Fort Worth newspaper in 1878 said : “Fort Richardson, in Jack County, built in 1867-68, at a cost of nearly $800,000, is fast becoming a ruin, the buildings are falling, and altogether it presents a sorry appearance. This fort, during the years 1868, ’69, ’70, contained the largest garrison in the United States, General Sherman having his headquarters there for a time. The hospital, the original cost of which was about $143,000, is now a useless pile.” The garrison and equipment were moved out to Fort Griffin in Shackelford County.
Some of the conditions in the county during the ’70s, as drawn from newspaper items and other sources, are described as follows : In the summer of 1876 the county was receiving little immigration. farmers were complaining of lack of markets, and the industrial development was perhaps slower than that of some of the surrounding counties.
Jacksboro, the county seat, as one of the military towns of North Texas, had enjoyed somewhat of a boom and about this time was suffering from the reaction. A correspondent in 1876 said : “Jacksboro has improved but little for several years. The location of one of the military posts here in 1867 had the effect to add materially to the town’s trading importance as a trading post for the frontier settlers, but since the cessation of Indian hostilities the troops have nearly all been withdrawn, resulting in a perceptible decrease in prosperity. Colonel Woods is here in command of the skeletons of three companies of the Eleventh Infantry, which are barely enough to do post duty and preserve the Government property. Other interesting items about the town are found under date of February. 1877: “A big business was transacted here during the military days. but the trade is now supplied from the permanent settlers. The older buildings in the place are constructed of upright pickets, plastered with clay and surrounded with stockades built in the same way. The first settler is. still here, T. W. Williams, a brother of ‘Blue Jeans’ Williams, present governor of Indiana.” By the latter part of 1879 Jack County was said to have 10,000 population ; among its industrial enterprises were eight or ten cotton gins, grist and sawmills, brick yards, and seventeen churches and numerous schools were enumerated. At the same time Jacksboro had three churches, three three-story flour mills, and other business interests were improving in like proportions. Over in the western part of the county the beautiful Lost Valley, one of the most picturesque spots in Texas, its perfectly level floor being hemmed in by the rugged hills, was the abode of several well-known cattlemen during the ’70s. M. G. Stewart had 10,000 acres in the valley, a fine dwelling, and his pasture was enclosed with a stone fence, showing a considerable departure from the usual methods of maintaining a stock farm. This valley was also the home of J. C. Loving and G. B. Loving, among the best known cattlemen of the state. The postoffice for this community was called Gertrude. and a stone church was another feature of the incipient center.
Some of the conditions of 1882 are reported as follows : At that time the county had one flour and five grist mills, all driven by steam The luxuriant grasses that covered the surface of the county gave the stockraisers a profitable business, and Jack County is still one of the important stock counties of North Texas. In 1882 the live stock. in round numbers, were 44,500 cattle, 8,500 sheep and goats, 6,300 horses and mules, and 9,000 hogs.
Jacksboro at that time was thirty-five miles from the nearest station on the Texas & Pacific Railway, and thirty-two miles from the nearest station on the Fort Worth & Denver City Railway, to which roads all cattle and other produce were sent. Besides Jacksboro the other villages in the county at that time were Post Oak, Newport and Lick Branch.
Jack County remained without a railroad until 1898, when a branch of the Rock Island from Bridgeport to Jacksboro was completed, and in 1902 it was extended west to Graham. About 1912 the line of the Gulf. Texas & Western Railroad was built through the county to Seymour in Baylor County. and has since been extended to a junction with the Mineral Wells & North Western at Dalesville.
In 1870 Jack County had 694 inhabitants ; in 1880, after settled conditions had obtained, the population was 6.626; in 1890. 9.740; in 1900, 10,224; in 1910, 11,817; in 1920, 9,209. The population of Jacksboro in 1890 was 751; in 1900, 1,311, and in 1910, 1.480. Some of the older towns already mentioned have lost their prestige in favor of places on the railroad. Outside of Jacksboro most of the population is distributed in the country districts, and the statistics indicate that the chief interests of the population are agriculture and stock raising. In the northwestern part of the county some coal is mined. The value of taxable property in 1870 was assessed at $226.611 ; in 1882, $1,750,236, of which more than a third was represented by live stock ; in 1903. $3,303.400 ; in 1913, $7,058,130 ; in 1920. $8,056,230.
At the last census the number of farms in the county were 1,888, as compared with 1,475 in 1900. The total area of the county is 615,680 acres, of which 541,688 acres were in farms or ranches. The census reported 107,000 acres in “improved land,” as compared with 83,000 acres at the preceding census. The stock interests were enumerated as follows : Cattle, 40.879 ; horses and mules, about 8.500 ; hogs, 4,150. – History of Texas, 1922, by W. Barrett Travis.