Wilbarger County is located in northern Texas, along the Oklahoma border, surrounded by Wichita County to the east, Baylor County to the south, Foard County and Hardeman County to the west, and Oklahoma to the north and northwest. Vernon, the county seat and largest city is 35 miles northwest of Wichita Falls.
Cities, Towns & Communities
Harrold | Odell | Oklaunion | Tolbert | Vernon – county seat
Wilbarger County. The history of Wilbarger County is a record of less than forty years. With the Red River as its northern boundary, the county derived its early importance from its location on the great cattle trail leading up through Western Texas to Dodge City, Kansas. That trail went through Wilbarger County, close to the present site of Vernon, and across the river into the Indian Territory at the old Doan’s station. As the herds were driven north the vicinity of Wilbarger was regarded as an ideal resting place for the stockman and cowboy. The fine grasses and abundance of pure water made it a favorite place in the progress of cattle from Texas to the northern pastures or the northern markets. This cattle trail was opened during the early ’70s, and it is said that the first permanent settler in the county came in 1876. As an illustration of the activities of the trail in one of its most prosperous years it is said that in 1885, 300,000 head of cattle, 200,000 head of sheep and 192,000 head of horses were driven by Vernon. Since that time a large part of Wilbarger County’s area has been transformed into a rich agricultural district. Continue Reading Wilbarger County History Written in 1922 >>
Wilbarger County was organized in 1881, and the town of Vernon was designated the county seat; there were only fifty-six voters in the county at that time. The county grew quickly during the 1880s, despite droughts in 1886 and 1887, the prevalence of prairie dogs, and occasional rampages of stampeding cattle from the seasonal cattle drives that traveled through the area. In 1886 the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway built into Vernon, connecting the county to outside markets and encouraging immigration. The importance of the railroad to early development was recognized by local ranchers, who had donated rights of way. Relations with Indians were friendly during the 1880s. Quanah Parker and his Comanche followers visited the Doan family frequently, and Comanche-Kiowa Indians from Oklahoma marketed in Vernon with their government allotments in the 1880s. A newspaper, the Vernon Weekly Call, was established by D. O. McConnell in 1889. By 1890 there were 720 farms and ranches, encompassing almost 313,000 acres, in Wilbarger County, and the population had increased to 7,092. Ranching had become important, and almost 23,000 cattle and 21,000 sheep were reported that year. But crop farming was also becoming fairly well established in the area. The agricultural economy rapidly expanded between 1900 and 1920 as hundreds of new farmers moved into the area. By 1910 there were 1,435 farms and ranches in the county; almost 63,000 acres were planted in corn, and about 20,000 acres in wheat, while more than 55,000 acres were planted in cotton, which was rapidly becoming the area’s most important cash crop. As old ranch lands were converted to crops, the number of cattle declined, and by 1920 there were only 10,000 cattle in the county. The population grew rapidly during this period, rising to 12,000 by 1910 and to 15,112 by 1920. Read More Wilbarger County History from the Handbook of Texas Online >>