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Decatur History 1922

Decatur History Written in 1922

Decatur. When Decatur was selected as the county seat of Wise County in 1857 there were half a dozen candidates for the location. They were Isbell Springs, about one and a half miles northwest of Decatur in the neighborhood of Henry Greathouse's home ; the Finley place, known as the Carpenter place, east of town ; Howell & Allen's store. Colonel Bishop, one of the early settlers, championed the town of Decatur, and he was backed by a number of the most aggressive citizens. After a hot contest Decatur received the plum. The Halsell Valley site had as its champion Sam Woody. Following the selection of Decatur as the county site, Mr. and Mrs. James Proctor deeded sixty acres of their 160 acres for the site. Colonel Bishop assumed active charge of the details of locating and laying out the town, which was to rest on the bald hill of the prairie. The details were made after the town of McKinney, in Collin County, which town Colonel Bishop had visited.

A public sale of town lots was held. ,The business lots around the square had the following buyers : Howell & Allen, south corner lot on west side ; Joe Henry Martin, central lot on northwest corner ; Mr. Dean, south corner, south side; Thos. Stewart, central lot, west side ; Colonel Bishop, west corner, north side ; Col. W. H. Hunt and Marshall Birdwell were also buyers.

Immediately following the sale of town lots houses sprang up, and within a short time Decatur was in the thriving village class. The little courtroom on the northeast corner of the square provided sufficient space for the transaction of the county's business. The first court clerks were R. M. Collins and C. D. Cates. The name of Taylorville was held by the little village until January 7, 1858, when it was officially changed to Decatur.

On October 28, 1859, the first birth of a white child occurred in the village. Benjamin Franklin Allen was born on that date. Mr. Allen is now a citizen of Fort Worth.

After many thrilling contests between the settlers and the Indians, Decatur "settled down" and became one of the principal trading points in this section of the state. The Waggoner and Halsell families became prominent in the cattle business, and Decatur became known as the headquarters of the "cattle kings" of Northwest Texas. The town continued to grow and prosper, and for many years it was the "biggest and best" town north of the Texas & Pacific Railway. Later other towns sprang up to the west, and as a result the magnificent trade enjoyed by Decatur merchants was taken away. From a cattle community, the Decatur district became rich in agricultural products.

Today Decatur is a city of about 3,000 people, with the usual complement of business houses, churches, schools and banks incident to a town of its size. - History of Texas, 1922, by W. Barrett Travis.


33° 14' 3.408" N, 97° 35' 10.104" W