Stephens County is in north central Texas, surrounded on the east by Palo Pinto County, on the south by Eastland County, on the west by Shackelford County, and on the north by Young County and Throckmorton County. Breckenridge, the county seat is 60 miles northeast of Abilene and about 100 miles west of Fort Worth.
Cities, Towns and Communities
Breckenridge (Picketville) – county seat | Caddo | Eolian | Gunsight | Harpersville | Ivan | La Casa | Necessity | Reach | Wayland
The Texas legislature established Stephens County in 1858 from lands formerly assigned to Bosque County. By 1860 there were 198 people living in the area; the United States census did not report any slaves living in the county at that time. In 1861, after Texas had left the Union, the small town of Picketville was designated the temporary county seat, and the county was renamed to honor the vice president of the Confederacy. During the Civil War about 100 local residents lived together for protection at Fort Davis, a “citizens’ fort” in the area; a school was established at the place. A salt works was operated on Big Caddo Creek at this time. County tax rolls reveal that there were thirty-three slaves in the county in 1864, near the end of the war, possibly brought there by The agricultural census for 1870 reported twenty-four farms and ranches in Stephens County. Though settlers grew some corn and vegetables for their own consumption, the economy of the area at that time revolved almost entirely around ranching; while only about 600 bushels of corn were produced in the county that year, more than 43,000 cattle were reported. There were only 300 people living in the county in 1870, and as late as 1875 ranchers were still traveling 200 miles to Tarrant County for flour and other necessities. The county was organized in 1876, and Breckenridge became the seat of government. Read More Stephens County History from the Handbook of Texas Online >>
Situated west of Palo Pinto County, Stephens was created in 1858, but remained unorganized until the year 1876. A greater portion of the land was located and surveyed by the Texan Emigration & Land Company for State University and Asylum lands, and most of the settlers in this county were stock raisers who had squatted on the company and state lands. For many years the county contributed wealth only in proportion as it was used as a range by the cattlemen, but the permanent settlement of the county occurred between 1870 and 1880. In 1880 the Texas & Pacific Railroad was built across the southeastern corner of the county. Lack of transportation has been the chief bar to the development of agricultural and mineral resources. The growing of a cotton crop began during the ’70s, and about the same time the coal deposits in the northern part of the county were opened, but the latter have never been developed except for local use. More recently a gas field has been developed near the county seat of Breckenridge. In recent years the underground water supply about Wayland and other points in the county has been tapped, and it is estimated that about 1,000 acres are irrigated. Continue Reading Stephens County History Written in 1922 >>