Wise County History 1922

Wise County History Written in 1922

Wise County, northwest of Tarrant County and Fort Worth, was created by the Legislature from the original Cooke County in 1856, and its county government was organized on May 5th of the same year. The first settlers penetrated into the county under the protection of the military post at Fort Worth, and its population by the end of the ’50s was over fifteen hundred. In 1858 it was estimated that about six thousand acres of land were in cultivation, but throughout that decade the county was on the frontier. In 1856 the only postoffices in the county were Odessa and Taylorville. The county seat was established at Decatur, and that was a point on the route of the Overland Southern Pacific Mail, the government stage line put in operation about 1858. During the Civil war decade population decreased in Wise County. The Texas Almanac for 1867 said: “There is not a mill in Wise County, the nearest being at Weatherford, forty miles away. A large quantity of wheat is raised in the county, and large numbers of cattle are raised and driven away to market.” In January, 1870, a Decatur citizen wrote that there had been no Indians for three months, and “most of our citizens who moved away last spring are moving back again. This county, although on the borders, is establishing three good schools, at Prairie Point, on Deep Creek and at Decatur.” A traveler in Wise County in the next year speaks of Boyd’s Mill in the south part of the county, the town having been located soon after the war, where at the time of writing there were a postoffice, steam mill, two dry goods stores. “While there,” continues this observer, “I was informed of a new town that had sprung up two miles away, and rode by. On the roadside is a handsome new storehouse. This place we proposed to christen `Aurora.’ ” The Almanac for 1867 gives the voting population of Wise County at about four hundred, and goes on to state that there are “few freedmen in the county ; we have no bureau, and they are quite happy and contented. There are as yet no postoffices established (meaning that postal service had not been resumed since the close of the war). Decatur and Prairie Point were two flourishing villages before the war, and are beginning to look up again, owing to the defenseless state of the frontier Indian raids are frequent.”

The first permanent settler in Wise County was Sam Woody, a not able character in North Texas. In 1854 he built his log cabin home in Wise County, two years before settlers in sufficient numbers had collected to justify a county organization. Some idea of how the pioneers not only of that locality but of other points in West Texas lived is obtained from Mr. Woody’s own words, quoted as follows :
“It was easy to live in those days. Sow five or six acres of wheat and it would often produce fifty bushels to the acre, cut it with a cradle, tramp and fan it out, then once or twice a year load up a wagon to which five or six steers were hitched, and after a week’s trip to Dallas you would have enough flour to give bread to your family and some of the neighbors for a number of weeks, until it would be the turn of some one else to make the trip. If we had not bread enough, game was always plentiful. Hogs would get so fat on acorns that they couldn’t walk. After marking them we let them run wild, and trained our dogs to run them in whenever we wanted a supply of pork. Now and then we sent a wagon to Shreveport or Houston for coffee and sugar and such groceries, but we did not use sugar much. I paid a dollar for a pint of the first sorghum seed planted in Wise County, and molasses was the commonest kind of “sweetening.” When we got tired of game and pork we killed a beef. By swinging a quarter high up to the limb of a tree it would be safe from wild animals and would keep sweet for weeks, and it was a common sight in our country to see the woman of the house untying the rope and letting down the meat to cut off enough for dinner.”



33° 14′ 3.408″ N, 97° 35′ 10.104″ W