Johnson County History Written in 1922
Johnson County. The first settlements were planted in what is now Johnson County in 1852. The territory was then comprised within the jurisdiction of McLennan and Navarrocounties, and by 1853 the population was sufficiently numerous to justify the creation of a new county. The legislative act of February 13, 1854, erected Johnson County, and the first election of county officers was held in the following April. In 1866 the western part of the county was detached to form Hood County, from which in turn was subsequently taken Somervell County. The first county seat was Wardville, located five miles west of the present city of Cleburne. In 1856 another county seat election was held, and a place called Bailey’s, five miles northwest of Cleburne, was selected, and its name changed to Buchanan, in honor of the then President of the United States. Both of these old county seat locations have long since ceased to be centers of population or trade. After the creation of Hood County the choice of a county seat was again before the people, and in 1867 the majority of votes were cast in favor of Camp Henderson, the permanent name of which was soon afterwards changed to Cleburne, in honor of the great general. The oldest town in the county is Alvarado, founded about 1853. The next in age is Grand View.
In 1860 Johnson County had a population of 4,305, some of whom lived in what is now Hood and Somervell counties. In 1870 the population was 4,923 ; in 1880, following a decade of great development, the population was 17,911; in 1890, 22.313 ; in 1900, 33,819 ; in 1910, 34,460; and in 1920, 37,286.
The county was without railroad facilities until the ’80s. The Fort Worth-Temple division of the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe was completed in December, 1881 ; the Missouri, Kansas & Texas was built at the same time, and in 1882 was opened the Cleburne-Dallas branch of the Santa Fe, originally known as the Chicago, Texas & Mexican. In 1887 the Santa Fe constructed its line from Cleburne to Weatherford, and in 1888 the Fort Worth & Rio Grande was built through the extreme northwest corner of the county. The Trinity & Brazos Valley opened its line from Cleburne to Mexia in 1904.
Within the present decade an interurban line has been built from Fort Worth to Cleburne, known as the Northern Traction Company of Fort Worth.
Since the first railroads were built the county has developed rapidly, and with the exception of some lands in the western part of the county all the big ranch holdings have disappeared, and Johnson now ranks as one of the best agricultural and stock farming counties of North Central Texas. Farm lands rank with the very best in the state. Of a total area of 473,600 acres, the last census indicated that about 430,000 acres were occupied as farms, and about 250,000 acres in “improved land.” Government statistics indicate a well diversified condition of farming, with an appropriate balance between stock raising and the cultivation of staple crops. In 1910 there were 18,942 cattle in the county ; 14,775 horses and mules ; 8,999 hogs, and 123,654 poultry. In 1909 the cotton acreage was 110,692; corn, 15,088; hay and forage crops, 7,190; peanuts, 1,129; over 1,600 acres in potatoes, sweet potatoes and other vegetables; with oats and wheat as minor crops. The county is also in the fruit belt, and the last census enumerated 139,000 trees in orchards fruits. The value of taxable property in the county in 1870 was $1,888,955; in 1882, $4,875,128 ; in 1903, $9,096,310; in 1913, $22,356,735; and in 1920, $24,288,040.
Cleburne, the county seat, is a modern, progressive city, with water works, street railway, other public improvements, and a number of commercial and manufacturing enterprises. Its largest single resource is the Santa Fe Railway shops. The population of Cleburne in 1890 was 3,278; in 1900, 7,493; in 1910, 10,364, and in 1920, 12,820. Alvarado, the pioneer town, had a population in 1890 of 1,543 ; in 1900, 1,342; in 1910, 1,155; in 1920, 1,284. Grand View’s population in 1910 was 1,018, having been credited with only about 250 inhabitants twenty years before. Other towns are Venus, Rio Vista, Burleson, Godley, Joshua, Keene, Lillian and Cresson. – History of Texas, 1922, by W. Barrett Travis.