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Did you know?

 In 1876 there was a stage coach stop in Station Branch (southwest of Godley). The building also served as a troop station on the Military Road through Johnson County.

Stage Coach stop

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Did you know?

 The first Johnson County jail was built in Buchanan in 1858 at a cost of $795. A District Clerk’s office was also built at the time. It was called a “bird box” because it was a one room 16’ x 16’ square building. When the county seat was moved to Cleburne in 1867 the court building and jail were also moved. In 1869 the first courthouse on the square was built and the Buchanan court building became “the Cheap Cash Store”.

Cheap

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Did you know?

By 1870 Cleburne had seven mercantile houses, two saloons, two hotels, one drug store, three blacksmith shops, two wood shops, one steam mill, a cotton gin and a high school! Pictured below is Timms Grocers. 

Timms Grocery

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Did you know?

Elbert Monroe Heath was appointed by the fifth legislature of the State of Texas as the commissioner to organize Johnson County. In 1861 he volunteered in the Twentieth Cavalry, commanded by Colonel Bass. In 1866 Major Heath was elected sheriff of Johnson County but was forced to resign during Reconstruction because he had served in the Confederate army.

Bruce and Heath

Bruce and Heath

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Did you know?

 The first house built in Cleburne was said to be located at the intersection of North Main and Henderson Streets north west of the courthouse. The house was built by Mrs. Josephine Wren and was used as a hotel or tavern as well as Mrs. Wren’s home.

Wren house

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Did you know?

 A college once stood on the grounds of the Cooke Elementary School in Cleburne. Clebarro College originated in February 1909 when the Church of Christ in Cleburne invited Allen Booker Barret and Charles H. Roberson, formerly of Southland University, to establish a private school. Several members of the Southland University faculty joined Clebarro College. Barret and Roberson became the owners of the school, which derived its name from Cleburne, Barret, and Roberson. The Cleburne Land Company donated twenty acres between Glen Rose and Granbury for a campus. Funds were sufficient to construct a three-story administration building and, three years later, a women's dormitory. For a decade Clebarro College had an average enrollment of forty. By the end of World War I, however, the school found it was unable to sustain itself; it closed in the spring of 1919.

Clebarro college

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Did you know?

 Lt. Com. Walter Owen Henry of Cleburne graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Class of 1913. He retired as a U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander. He was in charge of the U.S.S. Fannan which sank the first German submarine, U-58, in WWI.

Walter

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Did you know?

 George and Nancy Hallmark, pictured here with their son Edgar around 1895 donated the land for the Prairie Grove School.

George

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Did you know?

 William Ramsey of Cleburne was a noted barrister and the only man in Texas to occupy the bench on both the Court of Criminal Appeals and the State Supreme Court.

Ramsey

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Did you know?

 Mr. M. T. Boulware was contracted for the third year as Cleburne’s “Street Sprinkler”. The February 19, 1892 edition of the Cleburne Chronicle reported that “Mr. Boulware has done his whole duty no matter how crowded the streets or what difficulties confronted him. He is always on hand with his sprinkler.”  (Street sprinklers were invented in the 1850s as a means to suppress airborne dust on unpaved roads. Street sprinkling was necessary because the accumulation of manure and horse urine, as well as other foul and vile contributions from overflowing cesspools and the like, and was considered a health hazard by physicians.)

Sprinkler

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Did you know?

 Myrtle Corbin was born in Cleburne in 1868. In 1881 at age 13, Myrtle joined the sideshow circuit under the moniker “The Four-Legged Girl From Texas.” After showing her to curious neighbors and charging them a dime each, her father realized her potential for publicity and for cash. He had promotional pamphlets made up and began placing ads in newspapers for people to come see her. She soon attracted the attention of P.T. Barnum and worked in his sideshow for five years before retiring from show business. Myrtle married and had four heathy children.

Myrtle

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Did you know?

 The picture below shows the construction of the M.M. Pittman home in 1900. The home was located at 723 North Main Street in Cleburne. Mr. Pittman owned and operated the Pittman Mill where he made flour, meal, bran and chops. Brand names were “Queen of Cleburne Flour” and “Big A Patent”. The home was torn down in 1959 to make way for the new Cleburne Shopping Center.  (Johnson County, Texas. A Pictorial History, Volume 1)

Pittman

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Did you know?

 The first Brown’s Opera House was built in 1877on the corner of East Chambers and South Anglin. It was constructed with bricks from Easterwood brick yards on Buffalo Creek and included cast iron arched lentils. Tickets cost ten, twenty, and thirty cents at the time. Touring acts presented traveling minstrels, lectures and plays.

Brown's opera house

 

Note: The building pictured above was titled Brown's Opera House, however I can't see that name on the building. Looks like the bottom floor sold/repaired carriages and buggies.  

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Did you know?

The Johnson County was organized in August, 1854 and the first county officers elected were: David Mitchell, Presiding Justice; C. Billingsley, W.O. Neal, A.D. Kennard, County Commissioners; J. Easterwood, County Clerk; and A.H. Onstott, Sheriff. To this list later in the year were added F.L. Kirtley, Assessor; J.H. Waddle, District Clerk; E.M. Heath, Justice of the Peace for Precinct No. 1; F.L. Kirtley for Precinct No. 2; and W.O. Menefee for Precinct No. 3. The first court was held in Alvarado at John Waddle's store.

Waddles store

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Did you know?

 On March 29, 1886 masked men, thought to be strikers, invaded the Alvarado railroad yards. They locked up guards and broke into the roundhouse where they disabled the engines.

RR pic

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Did you know?

 In April of 1884 Cleburne established its first Public School System. There was no School Board election that year but the City Council appointed W.F. Ramsey, C.H. Mertz, E.T. Lewis, R.A. Poole, V. Gray and W.C. Smith as a school board to serve with Mayer, W.N. Hodge to direct the school system. Frank M. Johnson was the first superintendent of schools.

Public schol

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Did you know?

 Pictured below are members of the Cleburne Volunteer Fire Company taken about 1895. The first Cleburne fire unit was formed in 1891. The horse pictured is “Old Tom” and was remembered fondly in Cleburne before the advent of the motor driven fire equipment in 1913. “Old Tom” pulled the Johnson County road grader, but when the fire alarm sounded, he would snort and paw until released. He would then run to the fire station and back into a stall to receive the harness to pull the fire fighting machinery.

Old Tom

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Did you know?

 In the late 1800’s Chapel Hill (east of Cleburne) had a singing school. Maybe you can recognize one of the students in the picture below. The students were: Back row – L.R. Seth Cummings, Marion Head, D. Tarlton, Joe Edwards, Oscar Kirkham, Roy Vines, Vernon Brown, W.I. Sherman and Esther Head. Second row - ? Brown, Eula Kirkham, Grace Kirkham, Gracie Fines, Nellie Briden, Lillian Carrington, ? Carrington, Nellie Jenkins, Hassie Cummings, Ciddie Head and Third row – Jessie Taylor, Ella Smith, Otta Cummings, Alec Duncan, ?, Byron Kirkham, Joe Smith, Alec Cummings and Ernest Cummings.

Chapel Hill

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Did you know?              

 On April 17, 1908 Santa Fe Passenger Train No. 68 derailed near HWY 67 at Lockett Branch. The train was pulled by engine No. 248 with Alma C. Long, engineer and Ed Alsup, fireman. As the train left Keene at 9 PM a huge thunder storm rolled over Johnson County and the track gave way. The engine went into the creek killing Long and Alsup.

Train 68

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Did you know?

 A lot of prominent Americans once called Johnson County their home. Below are only a few:

  •  Harley D. Woods who taught school at Cleburne High went on to be mayor of Lubbock
  • J. Luther Cleveland was vice-president of one of the largest banks In New York City
  • W.B. Head of Grandview was head of T.P. and L. Co. which was one of the biggest power and light companies in the Southwest
  • Jesse Mary Hull from Alvarado was a noted writer for the American Jersey Cattle Club of New York
  • Stephan Hogg was governor of Texas from 1881 – 1885
  • S.W.T. Lanham was governor of Texas from 1902-1908
  • William Ramsey of Cleburne was a noted barrister and the only man in Texas to occupy the bench on both the Court of Criminal Appeals and the State Supreme Court.

JC Flag 

 

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Did you know?

 The 1883 Johnson County Courthouse was built on the square at a cost of $44,685. Wesley Clark Dodson was the architect and Lee Slaughter of Waco the contractor. The courthouse was completed in October of 1883 and dedicated in November of that year. The courthouse burned down on April 15, 1912, the same day the Titanic sank. Most of the county records were saved by the brave men of Cleburne. City Marshal M.A. Bledsoe lost his life in saving these important records.

1883                                                           M.A. Bledsoe

 

               1883 Courthouse                                                                               Cleburne City Marshal M.A. Bledsoe

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Did you know?

 The April 27, 1895 edition of the Cleburne Chronicle contained the following article “Price of Lands”

 

  • Because lands are so rich and the seasons so certain in this part of Texas compared with the far west, the impression has gone abroad that lands here are enormously high. We want to correct that impression. Some improved lands are high priced and worth every cent asked for them. But raw lands of fine quality can be purchased in Johnson County at $5 to $15 per acre. Lands here are at convenient distances from churches, schools and markets. Land in Johnson County can also be purchased on long terms with easy payments.

Lands

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Did you know?

 The Cleburne Chronicle reported that on November 19, 1871 the Mustang Mills, 8 miles SE of Cleburne was destroyed by fire. The cotton gin, press and a considerable quantity of seed cotton and grain were also destroyed in the fire.

fire

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Did you know?

In 1875 two banks, T.D. Lorance Bank and Chambers and Brown Bank were both victims of attempted robbery. The robbers might have managed it if not for Benjamin Hatsough who was a cashier at the Chambers and Brown Bank. When one of the robbers pointed a gun at him, Mr. Hatsough pulled his own gun and began firing. He was shot in the face, but continued to fight off the robbers. All of both banks assets were safe thanks to this brave Cleburne man.

Ben

 Benjamin Hatsough

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Did you know?

 On April 3, 1867 the first term of the Johnson County Police Court (now the Commissioners Court) was held with James Hiner as Judge.

gavel

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Did you know?

 In May of 1881 a fire started around 2 AM in the rear of Anderson’s saloon and Ransone & Co’s. dry goods store on Chambers Street in Cleburne. The fire destroyed three frame and one two-story brick buildings. Anderson’s saloon reported the loss of stock sat $1000 - $1200. They were insured for $1000.

fire 2

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Did you know?

 Cleburne Chronicle, August 9, 1873: What is a Grange?, A grange is an organization of farmers and ranchers formed to educate and unite all those interested in agriculture and animal husbandry in a community. The organization informed members of the best time to sell and how to price for their products. Grange officers wore costumes and ceremonial regalia. They also offered help for widowed women. (Partially from “Johnson County, Texas, a Pictorial History, Volume 1)

Grange

 

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Did you know?

 In August of 1855 the Bethesda Baptist Church (6 miles south of Burleson) organized in a small log cabin on the plantation of Pleasant Inman. (painting below by Ron Bowles)

cabin

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Did you know?

 John H. Boyd and his wife moved to Johnson County in 1869 where they settled near Grandview where he farmed the land. In 1876 Mr. Boyd was elected Justice of the Peace for that precinct. In 1882 He was elected Sheriff of Johnson County and moved to Cleburne. Sheriff Boyd was elected four times and served until 1890 when he retired to his farm in the southern part of the county.

sheriff

 

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Did you know?

 Following the Civil War William Love Clifton destroyed a sheepskin Texas Land Grant he inherited from his father and his step-mother because he had not worked and improved the land as required by his traditional Irish beliefs. The land grant was for thirteen acres of downtown Cleburne!

Clifton

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Did you know?

After trains arrived in Johnson County, cattle ranching changed. R.E. “Bob” Gatewood would round up a train load of cattle for shipment to Chicago. The days of the Chisholm were numbered. The Gatewood home still stands two miles south of Cleburne.

Gatewood

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Did you know?

 In 1872 the Cleburne Chronicle was located at 115 E. Wardville Street and operated by Major Jack Davis. Major Davis transported the printing equipment by oxcart and set up a “George Washington” hand press. There were several owners, but A.C. Scurlock bought the Chronicle in 1878 and ran it for twenty-five years.

Chronicle

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Did you know?

 During the late 1800’s a man in Johnson County could brand himself as a “foreigner” “dude” or “objectionable” in three ways:

  • Wearing a silk hat
  • Use of the broad “a” and say eyether or nyether
  • Parting your hair in the middle

 Dude

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Did you know?

 In 1879 the Palace Saloon thrived on the north side of the square in Cleburne. When T.U. Taylor was just a boy he remembered going into the saloon The proprietor held a highly colored decanter to his lips, took a copious draught, wet it back on the shelf in front of the huge mirror, wiped his lips and said “Buddy, never let a drop of that cursed stuff go down your throat!” The bartender below is unidentified.

(I don't think the saloon here had gambling, but I may be wrong!) 

saloon

 

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Did you know?

 Caddo Peak, two miles northwest of Joshua is the highest point in Johnson County at an elevation of 1,065 feet above sea level. The Caddo Indians used the peak for signaling, which could be seen from Comanche Peak, 24 miles to the west and beyond to Chalk Mountain. (painting by Charles Marion Russell)

Smoke signal

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Did you know?

 William J. and Mellie Powell Flenniken in the picture below lived in Cleburne in 1899. William was a Santa Fe Railroad conductor. His reports were criticized for being too lengthy and detailed. He developed a shorter report for his supervisors, writing “Off again, on again, gone again – Flenniken” His reports became synonymous of the Santa Fe for short, efficient reports.

William

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Did you know?

 In 1861 the Johnson County Court ordered that an election be held to determine whether the citizens of Johnson County would submit to a tax levy for the purpose of providing arms for the common defense. The tax levy passed and the following cavalries were organized:

 

•           Johnson County Cavalry W.J Neal Captain

•           Rock Creek Guards formed W.R. Shannon Captain

•           Alvarado Cavalry J.H. Dunn Captain

•           Stockton Cavalry John A. Formwalt Captain

•           Grandview Cavalry J.S. Morrow Captain

Cava

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Did you know?

 The August, 1872 edition of the Cleburne Chronicle reported that a Johnson County man lost his life when he put his horse’s line around his neck while leading it to water. The horse took fright and dragged the man to his death.

horse

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Did you know?

 Johnson County was once referred to as “The Dairy Isle of Texas”. Erath, Hopkins, Comanche and Johnson Counties together produced nearly 44% of the milk in Texas. The average annual milk production per cow in 1990 was 14,645 pounds – that’s a lot of milk!

Dairy cows

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Did you know?

 Riders of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad out of Johnson County purchased tickets like the one below. The Conductor would “punch” the ticket with a distinctive shaped hole, such as a heart or cloverleaf. Other Conductors up and down the railroad line knew by the shape who had punched the ticket and could audit the passengers’ use of the ticket (number/location of stops).

Ticket

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Did you know?

 Rev. F.L. Kirtley, settled on Chambers Creek at the site of what is now Grandview in 1849. On May 16, 1855 he received a grant of land and built a log cabin where he began to trade with both Indian and Angelo settlers. (painting by Lucy McGuffey)

Store by

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Did you know?              

 Two Texas governors’ came from Cleburne: 

  • S.W.T. Lanham - 1902  to 1908
  • Stephen Hogg - 1881 to 1895
  • Lanham

 

Hogg

 

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Did you know?

 Samuel Billingsley and his wife, Temperance (pictured below) came to Alvarado in 1852. Eight other Billingsley families moved to the community swelling the population by fifty people which doubled the population of Johnson County. The Billingsley helped establish the first school at Alvarado and built a horse-powered mill.

Billingsley

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Did you know?

 In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the west side of the square in Cleburne was nothing but brothels and saloons. A proper lady did not walk on that side of the square, even with an escort. In 1915 any male person over fourteen years of age who knowingly rode in a vehicle or walked on the street with a woman who had a bad reputation could be considered guilty of a misdemeanor and fined $5 to $100.

Tattooed lady

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Did you know?

 In 1863 a herd of cattle was purchased in Johnson County. The bill of sale or “Road Papers” as they were called indicated that the herd had been legally purchased. This herd was driven out on the Chisholm trail and may have been on their way to feed southern troops during the Civil War.

Road Papers

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Did you know?

 In 1879 Marystown, four miles east of Joshua had two churches, a school, two stores and a drug store with a population of about 100 people. The earliest settler near Marystown was Rev. J.S. Wilshire who began farming in the community in 1853. He had a family of seven children. It wasn’t until 1869 that a town was established. The name was originally Marysville, named for the reverend’s wife, Mary, but Texas already had a town named Marysville so it was changed to Marystown.

Marystown cemetery

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Did you know?              

 In 1861 the First Company of Confederate soldiers was organized in Johnson County by General W.H.Parsons. W.J. Neal was elected captain; W.R. Shannon was elected captain of the Second Company; A. Frizzel, the Third Company; J.A. Foomwalt, the Fourth Company; H.C. Bruce, the Fifth Company; H.C. Childress, the Sixth Company; Sam Caruthers, The Seventh Company; W. Cathey, the Eighth Company and H.A. Hart, the Ninth Company. Bruce’s Company became Company H, Twentieth Texas Cavalry, Bass Regiment. Captain Bruce was captured at the battle of Honey Springs in 1863 and spent the rest of the war in Federal prison camps in the north.

Bruce and Heath

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Did you know?

 The Johnson County Court House was completed on November 28, 1913 at a cost of $184,000. The brick was from Elgin, Texas; granite from Burnet County; marble from Georgia; and white stone from Indiana.

courthouse 1913

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Did you know?

Samuel Bonaparte Kirkham was born in Kentucky in 1829. He was one of the first settlers in Johnson County. Mr. Kirkham was a farmer, blacksmith and scout. He assisted Col. Middleton Tate Johnson in selecting the site for a new fort. That fort became Fort Worth, Texas. His descendants still live in Johnson County.

Kirkham

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The first Johnson County courthouse was a 16’ x 16’ log cabin located in Wardville (now under lake Pat Cleburne). The cabin was also used as the community’s church. But, as liquor was accepted as payment of fines, Johnson County’s bar of justice may have served as a bar of another kind. (You can still see the original Wardville courthouse at the Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum at 2929 West Henderson)

Wardville

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Did you know?

 In the 1800’s T.I. “Longhaired Jim” Courtright was noted as one of the fasted guns in the west. He was an army scout and then a showman billed along with Annie Oakley. In 1882 he was involved in a gunfight in Cleburne. Then in 1886 he was hired as a Johnson County sheriff’s deputy.

Courtright

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Did you know?

 In sections of the Texas frontier, including Johnsons County, where courts and jails had not been fully established or where officials and juries could not be depended upon, committees of vigilance were often formed to stamp out lawlessness and rid communities of desperadoes. (In 1869 the citizens of Alvarado united to rid the county of B. Bickerstaff and J. Thompson. These two individuals were guilty of murder, theft and rustling cattle and horses in the Alvarado area. The citizens shot the two to death on the town square.) Sometimes these secret bodies degenerated into mob rule or were used for private vengeance, but usually they were made up of law-abiding, responsible citizens who wanted only to maintain order and to protect lives and property. They operated against murderers, horse thieves, cattle rustlers, and those who held up stagecoaches and trains. Sometimes they acted without warning, but often they gave notice for offenders to leave. Those who failed to do so might be caught and hanged. (from an article by Wayne Gard)

 Vig

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Did you know?

 Fielding L. Kirtley establish a post office in Grandview on April 4, 1856. He was also the first to hold Baptist Church services in the county. Mr. Kirtley donated 2.5 acres of land for the Baptist Church and cemetery in Grandview.

Grandview P.O.

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Did you know?

 One of the most spectacular interior spaces in the Johnson County courthouse is the six-story central atrium.  Rising from the basement level, the atrium has Georgia creole marble facing the corner walls and balconies on the first, second, and third floors.  Rich Sullivanesque detailing is found along the cornice, architraves, and along the chamfered corners.  An octagonal art glass skylight crowns the atrium.

DSC_0724_1 FX CE 8.5x11 Johnson County Courthouse

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Did you know?

 The Caddo Grove Seminary opened in February of 1868. Caddo Grove is located about two miles from Joshua on the old Chisholm Trail. The Seminary was soon recognized as the most prestigious school on the northern frontier of Texas. The two story frame building could accommodate about 65 students. Teachers included E.M. Heath and Jerry Medows who used the “blab” method of teaching which used only a blackboard and chalk.

chalk board

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Did you know?

Richard "Dick" Smith Sewell, his wife Polona and their family came to Texas to educate freed slaves who lived in Nathan. Dick was the richest man of color in Johnson County at the time. He lived to be 96 years old and liked to tell stories about his youth when he took part in cattle drives from Bosque County to Wichita, Kansas.

Dick

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Did you know?

 On May 6, 1882 the Alvarado Democrat Newspaper reported: Capt. Jack Wright drove 1,100 cattle from Comanche County to Johnson County, delivering them to Bill Henderson. “It was as fine a lot of young cattle as has been received this season in Johnson County. (painting by Jason Rich)

Cattle Drive

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Did you know?

 In March of 1914 the Austin American Statesman reported that the State of Texas had exhausted its medical oxygen supply in an attempt to save the life of Ed Hutchins who was a prominent merchant in Grandview and jointly owned around 600 acres in the Grandview area. Mr. Hutchins passed away in spite of all efforts to save him.

Hutchins

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Did you know?

 In September of 2018 the Southwest Adventist University in Keene, established in 1893 celebrated its 125 year anniversary. The university was built in Keene before roads were paved and trees were cleared for residential homes. The picture below shows the original 1893 school house and students. The university now has over 800 students from 36 states, 35 countries and 10 denominations.

SWAU

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I little break from the usually entries, but too funny not to post.  John Percifield sent this yesterday. 

Back in the day the Burma Shave Company placed signes along the road side. They were small red signs with white letters. There were generally five signs spaced about 100 feet apart with the fifth sign advertising Burma Shave which was a popular shaving cream. Here are a few:

Don't stick your elbow out so far
it may go home in another car
Burma Shave

She kissed the hairbrush
by mistake
she thought it was her husband Jake
Burma Shave

Don't lose your head
to gain a minute
you need your head
your brains are in it
Burma Shave

Around the curve
lickety-split
beautiful car
wasn't it?
Burma Shave

Passing school zone
take it slow
let our little
shavers grow
Burma Shave

He saw the train
and tried to duck it
he kicked the gas
and then the bucket!!
Burma Shave

 

BurmaShave

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Did you know?

 The Johnson County Commissioners in 1907 were: (top row) R.P. Drennean, and John I. Rogers; (bottom row) G.W. Humphries, Judge F.E. Adams (Adams School was named after the judge) and John W. Shropshire. (Courtesy of Cleburne Times Review)

Commissioners

 

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Did you know?

 The 1924 the Cleburne City Directory listed two asylums: Cleburne Sanitarium on Featherstone and Meadowlawn Sanitarium in the Clebarro Addition. Two asylums in Cleburne?! Yikes!

Sanitarium

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Did you know?              

 In 1934 Charley Harvey was riding his horse to the store in Sand Flat when he saw a car parked under a tree and stopped to see if they needed help. Well when Charley got off his horse he was met by a woman with a gun. She told him to get back on his horse, go home and keep your mouth shut. The woman was Bonnie Parker. The man in the driver’s seat was Clyde Barrow!

Bonnie

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Did you know?

Burleson High School class of 1918 consisted of 10 students. Front row: Jessie Myrtle Bullock, Sylvia May Brister, Johnnie Bernice Harris, Drusic Hayden Shannon and Irene Virginia Overton. Second Row: Verner G. Griffing, Roy N. Faries, Clyde H. Griffing and Edwin H. Lace. Back Row: Supertendent J.A. Tibbets and John S. Fisher.

BHS 1918

 

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Did you know?

 Oct. 21, 1895,  Grince Taylor was murdered at his home, eight miles northeast of Grandview.  On June 29, 1896 John Wilkins was hung for the murder of Mr. Taylor. A crowd of approximately 15,000 people came to Cleburne to watch the hanging.

John Wilkins

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Did you know?

 On July 23, 1914 the town of Rio Vista suffered a devastating fire thought to have started in Z.T. Higgebotham’s barber shop. The only buildings to survive the fire were the Rio Vista Bank, Sam Cooper’s grocery, Chapman Brothers Livery stable and W.H. Nanny’s blacksmith shop. The loss was estimated at $90,000. Wow, $90,000 in 1914!!

fire Rio Vista

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Did you know?

 Class Room #11 at the Santa Fe School is pictured below in 1917. S.O. Rosser (first row far right) was a teacher at the school. He later became principal of the Santa Fe School, then principal at J.N. Long and Joshua schools. Later he was Johnson County’s Tax Collector/Assessor. (Courtesy of Cleburne Times Review)

1917 Santa Fe

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Did you know?

 On January 20, 1869 Sheriff E.M. Heath and Maj. Cathy set out from Cleburne heading for Austin with $3,800. A few miles beyond Hillsboro they were overtaken by four masked riders who held them up at gun point and stole the money! (drawing courtesy of David Lozeau)

Courtesy of

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Did you know?

 In July of 1870 Joe Cashion, who drove the Concord Stage between Cleburne and Weatherford, always sounded a bugle to announce the stage’s arrival when he crossed just west of Buffalo Creek.

stage

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Did you know?

 March 31, 1899: A skeleton was unearthed in a field near Antioch when Mr. Calloway (who cultivates the field) had his plow break. When he attempted to dig up the obstruction, he discovered a skeleton. The skeleton was very tall and considering the wearing of the teeth was believed to be that of an older individual. Due to various flint and arrowheads found in the vicinity, it was determined to be that of a Native American male.

chief

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Did you know?

 On August 1, 1897 the Cleburne Daily Review reported that two children, Jennie Adkins, aged 9 and Bessie Foote, aged 10 were playing with a 38 caliber revolver when it accidentally discharged resulting in little Jennie being shot through the shoulder. Dr. W.P. Alexander stated Jennie would be fine and as of last evening she was resting easily at her home in west Cleburne.

six shooter 2

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Did you know?

 In May of 1953 a tornado wiped out more than $50 million in downtown Waco. Johnson County citizens sent donations of food and supplies to the storm tossed Waco residents. In the picture below Jimmy Hollingsworth hands another box f supplies to Charles D. Kirkham, Jr. as another truck is loaded to aid the residents of Waco. (Courtesy of Cleburne Times Review)

Waco

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Did you know?

 Barnesville, about 12 miles east of Cleburne, was founded by Moses, Ben and Andrew Barnes along with Jaud and John Dee in 1853. In 1885 Barnesville had two grist mills, a cotton gin, two churches, a school and a population of 150. The town started to fail when the railroads bypassed it in the late 1880’s. Today all that is left of Barnesville is a small cemetery.

Barnesville

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Did you know?

 In November of 1855 Barnesville was established on Chambers Creek in eastern Johnson County by Moses, Ben, John, and Andrew Barnes. In 1868 Moses Barnes built a cotton gin and in 1876 a town site was laid off and a post office was built. A school was built in 1879. Railroads did not pass near the town causing it to disappear by 1900.

cotton gin

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Did you know?

 Park Hardware of Alvarado was the second oldest business institution in Johnson County. I apologize for the quality of the photo below, but here are the names as best I can discern: (Left to Right) Horace Park, Herbert Park and C.H. Park.

Park hardware

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Did you know?

 The first LVN class at Johnson County Memorial Hospital graduated in 1951. The graduating LVNs were Elsie Brownes, Winnie Brown, Mrs. Patton, Emily Love, Alice Rodman, Bessie Ward, Beulah Mundon, Mildred Pierce, Winnie Barnesdale, Beulah Bales, Mrs. Pritchard, Edna Miles, Etta Mash, Mamie Thetford, Bessie Kopfer, Mrs. Rankin, Frances Smith, Joyce Curlee, Mrs. Baker, Mrs. White, Mrs. Andrews, Mrs. Gibbs, Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Parks and Elizabeth Stepp. (Courtesy of Cleburne Times Review)

LVN

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Did you know?

 In 1899 Cleburne had a Concert Band: J.C. Arratt, Conductor and B Flat cornet; DeLos Anderson, Snare drum; W.A. Bennett, B Base; E.E. Clack, First Tenor; T.R. Hunter, Second Cornet; E.D. McKenzie, Solo Cornet; D.R. Murray, Bariton; W.F. Shaw, First Alto; H.H. Allen, “Mascot”; Geo. V. Brown, Bass Drum; Elmer Collins, Solo Cornet; J.F. Lemmon, Tuba; W.B. McPhearson, Second Alto; A.D. Shaw, B Flat Tenor; A.H. Vernon, Tuba.

Band Conductor

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Did you know?              

 In 1899 Charles C. Taylor, Sr. entered into the general merchandise business with Mr. Bob Norwood which in 1908 became the “Big Four” located at 112 South Main in Burleson. The store bought eggs, vegetables, butter and fire wood from the farmers or traded for goods. They also bought cotton, corn and peanuts and sold them in the store. The store extended credit to the farmers for seed, food and clothing until their crops were harvested.

Big 4

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Did you know?

 The 1904 Cleburne City Directory listed five dentists: Dr. J.W. Semones, over Graham’s Dry Goods Store; Dr. E.S. Scheble, over Dee’s Jewelry Store; Dr. W. Streetman, upstairs on the east side of the square; Dr. H.G. Clements, over Favorite Dry Goods Co.; Dr. W.H. Meyers, over Pitman’s Jewelry Store.

Dentist s

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Did you know?

 In 1868 Vincent Gray opened a hardware store and undertaking business at the intersection of Chambers and Anglin streets. The building later became the Garza Building. Mr. Gray could build your coffin and bury you too! A stage on the second floor (which is still there) was originally used for funeral viewings. Later Soiled Doves (women of ill repute and scant clothing) danced across the same stage. 

Garza

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Did you know?

 On August 5, 1876 the Cleburne Chronicle reported that Wesley Smith of Alvarado was killed when a large navy six shooter was taken from the house to be placed with baggage in a wagon. While handling the weapon it dropped from the scabbard on the wheel and went off killing young Mr. Smith.

six shooter 2

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Did you know?

 In 1887 the Goodwin and Sims families of Cleburne organized Salter Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The church was named in honor of Bishop M.B. Salter, and for a short time services were held in the homes of the Goodwin and Sims families on Front Street. The first sanctuary was built on East Chambers Street near Buffalo Creek. It was relocated in 1918 to South Brazos Avenue with Rev. George Ballard as Pastor. In 1931 the church was moved to106 Olive Street on land donated by the Charles Alexander family. The Rev. Beasley took over the pastorship. Otto McLeroy Moving Company of Alvarado is shown in the picture below while moving the church to the Olive Street location.

Salter

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Did you know?

 The 1911 Cleburne City Directory listed four theaters in Cleburne: Best Theatre on East Henderson, Propr Ann Clements; Brown’s Airdome Theatre on North Caddo, Manager Hoyt Kirkpatrick; Dixie Theatre on North Caddo (Vaudeville and moving pictures), Proprs Wood and Whiteneck; Yale Theatre, on Henderson (Moving pictures), Proprs Wood and Roper.

Theater

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Did you know?

 Joseph Noe, his wife Ella and their four children came to Johnson County in 1926 and settled on a farm located on the old Alvarado Highway. Their children attended grades 1-9 at the school in Bethesda which was about three miles away. In order to continue through high school, transportation was needed. Through the combined efforts of the parents, the Bethesda School and Johnson County officials, a bus was provided. The body was built by a furniture manufacturing company in Keene and mounted on a 1925 Model T Chassis. The bus was affectionately called “The Greyhound Pup” by the students. Reportedly this was the first school bus in Johnson County. It carried 8-10 students to Alvarado High School for a little over 2 years. In 1934 Ken W. Noe constructed the first school bus to serve the Burleson School District. This bus seated between 20-25 students. Joe Noe furnished the bus with gas and drove it for about 4 years. His salary was $30 per month. (courtesy of the Burleson Historical Committee)

School bus

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Did you know?

 In June of 1881 little Arthur Billingsly was found floating face down in Buffalo Creek about a half mile south of the Cleburne square. A jury of inquest was empaneled by Phil T. Allen, Justice of the Peace, John County Precinct 1 to examine the cause of death which was determined to be a blow to the head and drowning in the creek. Several young boys who were previously seen with the deceased were questioned but no evidence regarding the death was found. Later a woman who was washing clothes on the creek said she saw young Arthur go by and shortly after, a boy about 14 or 15 years of age passed going the same way. The young man was identified as “Gilbert”, but he could not be located. The case is still unsolved.

Who Killed Little Arthur?

 

 ? ? ?

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Did you know?

 In 1924 Cleburne city government consisted of a Mayor, W.H. Goldsmith; a Mayor Pro Tem, M.W. Weakley; a Marshall, J.J. Rogers; a City Attorney, Heber Henry; a Judge of Corporation Court, W.H. Goldsmith; a Treasurer, Mrs. Jerrine Hughes; Assessor and Collector, J.B. Post; City Engineer, C.H. Teesdale; City Auditor, J.S. Hoffman; Chief of Police, J.J. Rogers; Chief of Fire Department, Joseph Cashion; City Physician, J.D. Osborn; and a Street Commissioner, Andy Holt.

Goldsmith

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Did you know?

 The 1916-1917 Cleburne High School year book stated that the school organized an athletic association under the chairmanship of principal J.D. Dunlap. Other faculty members on the governing council were W.S. Ownsby, C.A Cushman and Miss Edna Graham. 1916-1917 boys basketball team included: (top row left – right) C.A. Cushman, Coach; Earl Dowdy, guard; Bryan Robinson, center; Vernon Gregory, guard; Harold Kirkman, forward; W.T. Andrews, manager. (Bottom row Left – right) Joe Flood, forward; Everett McQuillen (captain), forward; William Jones, guard. The 1916-1917 girls basketball team included: (top row left – right) Sue Mildred Lee, forward; Almarine Harris, center; C.A. Cushman, coach; Mildred Herscher, guard; Vera Davis, guard. (bottom row left – right): Susie Sumners, guard; Nina Mae Sanderlin, center and Hazel Payne, forward.

CHS basketball boys              CHS basketball girls

 

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Did you know?

The 1904 City Directory listed Cleburne having four bakeries: French Bakery on East Chambers; Bachiel and Star Bakery on South Main; C. Dempwolf Bakery and Grocery on South Main and Home Bakery and Groceries on East Henderson.

Bakery

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Did you know?

 In 1909-1910 the East Ward elementary school girls basketball team played the CHS girls basketball team. Their team yell was: “Five pennies make a nickle, two nickles make a dime – East Ward, East Ward, Wins every time.” The CHS team yell was: “Hand car, push car, engine full of steam; we are the champion basketball team.”

East Ward basketball

Note: Sorry, I couldn't find the names of these players.

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Did you know?

 In September of 1880 Berry Boydston and Sons of the Cross Timbers opened their new cotton Gin. They told the Cleburne Bulletin newspaper the Gin was in order and they had plenty of able bodied men on their crew.

Cotton gin 2

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Did you know?

 On July 20, 1892 the Cleburne Enterprise newspaper reported that a fishing party on the Nolan River caught over 100 pounds of fish!

fish

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Did you know?

 In 1899 Cleburne boosted eight churches: First Baptist Church on North Caddo Street, Rev. Geo. W. Baines pastor; St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on North Anglin, J. Hagarty pastor; First Christian Church on West Wardville Street, Rev. W.B. Carnes, pastor; Trinity Congregational Church on North Anglin Street, A.A. Hale Superintendent; Church of the Holy Comforter on North Anglin, Rev. G.S. Gibbs, Rector; First Methodist Church on South Main Street, Rev. J.S. Wyatt, Pastor; Cumberland Presbyterian Church, North Anglin Street, Rev. P.M. Riley, Pastor; Methodist Church on Chambers, Rev. R.F. Halbert Pastor; Baptist Church, Rev. Jones, Pastor; C.M.E. Church, Rev. Branch, Pastor.

Church

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Did you know?

 On August 9, 1873, three miles east of Cleburne, vigilantes shot a boy for horse stealing then dropped his body down a well. The Cleburne Chronicle stated “The good name of Johnson County is likely to suffer from the acts of bad characters within its borders”.

well

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Did you know?

 The Caddo Grove Seminary, near Caddo Mound, two miles west of Joshua opened with 65 pupils. The two story building was built by Professor McKensey and would accommodate 200 students.

Caddo Grove

 

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Did you know?

 Did you know that in 1899 Cleburne had four colleges? Mahan’s Business College on East Henderson Street which was established in 1878, Prof. J.W. Mahan, President, Mrs. J.W. Mahan, Principle of Ladies Department; St. Joseph’s Academy on North Anglin Street, conducted by the Sisters of Divine Providence, Sister Mary Ignatius, Directress; Cleburne Academy also on North Anglin Street, R.A. Berry, Principle; and The George Institute on North Anglin Street under the direction of Mrs. George.

Clebarro college

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Did you know?

 The 1911 Cleburne City Directory listed four newspapers in Cleburne: Cleburne morning Review published by the Review Publishing Co.; Cleburne Semi-Weekly Chronicle published by  J.P. Chambless; The Enterprise published by Enterprise Publishing Co.; Johnson County Review published by The Review Publishing Co.

From the Enterprise newspaper 1911

Adv Livery

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Did you know?

 On August 30, 1912 an electric interurban express line between Fort Worth and Cleburne began operation. It operated until 1931.

Interurban

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Did you know?

 William Combs was one of the founders of Alvarado and was one of the 200 Texans who signed the petition to create Johnson County. He served in Parson’s Brigade, 12th Texas Cavalry during the Civil War and was a land owner and constable in Johnson County.

Combs

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Did you know?

 On October 3, 1878 the Cleburne-to-Fort Worth stage was robbed by two men wearing calico bags over their heads. Finding no money in the mail they searched some of the passengers, taking only 30 cents, which they returned. (painting by Everett)

stage robbery

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Did you know?

 Alvarado was established on an old Indian trail. B.J. Chambers and Thomas Smith surveyed the area in 1841. They reported meeting friendly Native Americans there.

1841 Alvarado

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Did you know?

 In 1893 the site where Venus stands today was a cornfield owned by Jabe Smyth. The town was laid out in 1894 and in August of 1895 the Santa Fe opened a depot in Venus.

Venus

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Did you know?

 In 1922 Miriam Brown (Keeler), daughter of Emmett Brown (Superintendent of Cleburne Schools from 1913-1946) earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas in 1922. Ms. Brown was also known as the last word in Texas fashion. In the photo below she was wearing a ruffled organdie dress, had hair puffs over the ears and spit curls.

Brown

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Did you know?

 Wardville, the first county seat of Johnson County, was named for Thomas William Ward, a hero of the Texas Revolution, commissioner of the General Land Office and American Consul to Panama. He went on to be mayor of Austin in 1865. He was called “Peg Leg” Ward due to losing his leg in the siege of Bexar during the Texas Revolution.

ward-thomas-william

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Did you know?

 On August 29, 1887 Johnson County was flooded with 16.25 inches of rain! Seven people were drowned in Cleburne and dozens of others were rescued from tree tops. Crops were damaged all over the county. (painting by Marhanim)

flood 2

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Did you know?

 Lucinda Briden (1828-1875) was the first white woman settler and first woman landowner in Johnson County. She passed away in 1875 and is buried in a small cemetery located at the mouth of Haley Branch near the banks of the Nolan River where her home stood.

Briden

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Did you know?

 In 1885 the Red Oak Academy was built on the mound in Burleson but closed in 1900 after a typhoid outbreak killed several students.

Red Oak

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Did you know?

 On October 20, 1873 the Cleburne Chronicle reported that Johnson County celebrated its first County Fair. “More than expectations, or even the hopes of our citizens were realized in the success of our first experiment in holding an annual agricultural exhibition.”

Fair 2

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Did you know?

 In October of 1867 the Cleburne Chronicle reported: “Sometime this fall, Josiah Thompson drifted into Alvarado and opened a saloon. When the citizens of Alvarado advised him that it was against the law to sell whiskey there, he swore he would sell whiskey, law or no law. (painting by Carl Hantman)

saloon 2

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Did you know?

 There are “pictures” in the marble of the Johnson County Courthouse! The pictures weren’t created intentionally (the courthouse was opened in 1913 and there were no Transformers back then!). The Johnson County Courthouse Museum has a “Find pictures in the marble” challenge for kiddos to find pictures which are listed.

Marble 1

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Did you know?

 The Santa Fe Railroad came to Johnson County in 1881. Later two more railroads came: the Katy and the T & BV. The Santa Fe Shops were built and the rest is history. During these years the population of Cleburne jumped from 3,442 in 1881 to approximately 10,000 by 1906.

train

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Did you know?

 On October 2, 1881 the Jim Griffin was appointed deputy sheriff of Johnson County. He stepped into May’s Saloon in Cleburne a few hours later and was attacked by “a small army” of bad men, all of which Griffin dispatched to the floor without the use of his pistol.

fight

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Did you know?

 On April 10, 1869 citizens of Alvarado organized for the purpose of putting down lawlessness. Robbery, cattle rustling and even murder had reached a point that something had to be done.

sheriff

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Did you know?

 The Reece Prairie Community was established northwest of present day Joshua in 1853. The community was named for John Reece. There is little known about him except that the community used his name. One of the older families who grew up in the Reece Prairie Community and still live at Joshua are the Hildebrands. J. B. Hildebrand came to the area in 1882.

 

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Did you know?

 On January 9, 1869 an article in the Cleburne Chronicle urged people to clean out and wall up the springs on Buffalo Creek.

Buffalo Creek

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Did you know?

 On January 17, 1895 a local option election brought prohibition to Johnson County.

Prohibition

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Did you know?

 The Old Cleburne Hotel on the corner of North Main and West Henderson is where Governor Stephen Hogg stayed during his May, 1892 visit to Cleburne. It burned down in the 1930’s and hundreds of folks came to watch.

Hotel

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Did you know?

Alvarado was incorporated in June of 1885. The area was first settled by William Balch in 1850. He built a trading post and layed out a townsite. A.H. Onslott was the first sheriff and named the town Alvarado after an admired friend he fought with during the Mexican War.

Alvarado Sheriff

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Did you know?

 Buchanan, five miles northwest of Cleburne, was established in 1856 and selected as the second county seat in a special election held on October 4 of that year, after the discovery that the original county seat, Wardville, was more than six miles from the county's geographic center. Following the completion of a log courthouse, the first term of the county court met at Buchanan on February 16, 1857. The county court continued to meet in Buchanan for just over ten years. A post office opened there in 1857, and during the following year a jail was completed. An inadequate water supply, however, severely hampered growth. In 1866 the state legislature designated a portion of western Johnson County for inclusion in the newly established Hood County. This shift of territory reduced Johnson County's size and relocated its geographic center so that Buchanan was no longer within six miles of it. In a special election on March 23, 1867, county voters chose a new county seat, Camp Henderson, which became Cleburne. Buchanan lost its post office in 1868 and was abandoned by 1892. (Courtesy of Texas State Historical Association)

Buchanan

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Did you know?

 On March 10, 1884 fire destroyed many buildings on the south side of the square in Cleburne.

Fire wagon

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Did you know?

 During October of 1869 millions of grasshoppers flew all over Johnson County causing damage to fall crops!

Grasshoppers

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Did you know?

 On April 15, 1912 the Johnson County courthouse burned down. City Marshall Bledsoe was the only fatality. Ironically, the Titanic sank the same day.

1883

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Did you know?

 In the 1940’s Cleburne had a Coca Cola plant located on South Robinson Street owned by W. T. George. Pictured below are Mr. George in the suit, and his crew: Milford Eastus, Lloyd Ledbetter, Abe Miles, Everett “Happy” Dameron, Glen Clark, Johnny Booth and Frank Knopp.

Coca Cola Plant

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Did you know?

 Henry Briden and his wife were the first settlers in Johnson County. He came to the United States as a stowaway with only his clothes and a Bible. He served in the Texas Rangers for two years before meeting Lucinda Sevier while working as a surveyor for her father. They married in 1849 and arrived to this area by ox-driven wagon, making their home in a one-room log cabin near the banks of Noland’s River on land given them by her uncle. They were the first settlers in Johnson County.

 The cabin, 16 foot square with a fireplace has been restored and is now located on Highway 174 in Rio Vista. Pictured at their third home in 1900 (located about two miles northwest of Rio Vista are Lucinda Briden, Henry Briden, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Taack, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Sloan and Lola Sloan.

Briden

 

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Did you know?

 On November 25, 1892 there were two incidents of runaway horses in Cleburne. One was pulling a coal wagon and the other was pulling a delivery wagon.

runaway

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Did you know?

During the first week of September in 1850 a stalk of corn was displayed in Cleburne that measured 14 feet 7 inches tall!

Corn stalk

 

Note: This is longer than the usual post, but very interesting.

The Hidden Treasure of Island Grove

Is there hidden treasure near Grandview in the small area now known as Island Grove? A story told by an old Comanche says there is. The story goes that in the early part of the 18th century a group of outlaws robbed a convent in Monterey, Mexico of a large amount of gold. They retreated north, fleeing from the Mexican Army. The Army finally turned back after crossing the Rio Grande. The outlaws, led by a man named Mendosa, fled further north intending to enter the US and spend their loot.  

They were camped near Island Grove when they were surrounded by a Comanche war party. They buried the gold and Mendosa made a primitive map of its location on a buffalo hide and hid it under his saddle. Their firepower allowed them to escape the Comanche, intending to return later for the gold.

The bandits broke up into groups of two and three and went in different directions. As they fled, Mendosa and the outlaws with his group were followed by the Comanche warriors. After a few miles, Mendosa’s horse stepped into a hole and broke its leg. The men surrendered but were immediately killed by the Comanche warriors. Afterwards, the warriors found the map and kept it as a souvenir. Its whereabouts are now unknown.

People have searched for the treasure ever since. But all that has been found, so far, are a couple of old Mexican horse bits. Even today treasure hunters continue to search for the treasure of Island Grove.

Painting by Frank McCarthy

Frank McCarthy

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Did you know?

 On December 15, 1893 the first telephones in Alvarado were installed.

telephone

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Did you know?

 On October 12, 1869 Caddo Grove (located about 8 miles northeast of Cleburne) was founded and opened a post office.  J.R. McKinsey, an area pioneer, operated a small school from his home in the area that was founded in 1854. After the Civil War, McKinsey expanded the town with additional businesses and a private school called Caddo Grove Academy. By 1847, fifty-three students enrolled in the school. In February, 1868, the school became public and was called Caddo Grove Seminary. It became recognized as the most prestigious school on the northern frontier of Texas. The railroad was established in 1881 in the nearby town of Joshua, causing the town of Caddo Grove to become abandoned. Below is a photo of Caddo Grove School in 1917.

 (Courtesy of Joshua ISD)

CaddoGrove1917

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Did you know?

 On May 4, 1890 a tornado struck near Robinson Branch and Bono destroying homes and killing several people.

Tornado

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Did you know?

 On July 29, 1878 there was a total eclipse. In Buchanan, a man who had not known of the coming astronomical show thought the end of the world had come when it started getting dark. He killed his child and himself.  Neighbors said: "He had always been regarded as a fanatic on the subject of religion, but was  industrious and sober.

Eclipe

 

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Did you know?

 On August 15, 1912 the Interurban began operation between Cleburne and Fort Worth.

 Interurban

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Did you know?

 A. J. Wright bought the third car manufactured by the Cleburne Motor Car Company in 1911. He used it as a delivery van for his dry goods store.

AJ Wright car

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Did you know?

In the second week of August in 1869 an 11-foot alligator was killed in the Brazos River near Kimball. Alligators, in the Brazos in north central Texas??!!

Alligator

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Did you know?

 In 1867 the Johnson County seat, courthouse and jail were moved from Buchanan to Cleburne, the new county seat. A new courthouse was soon built on the square and opened April 6, 1869.

1869 Courthouse

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Did you know?

Henry Briden of Rio Vista was among the first settlers and during the Civil War he was a member of the Confederate Cavalry. He was captured on July 17, 1863 in Arkansas. His cabin can still be seen in Rio Vista.

Briden Calavry

Briden Cabin

 

 

 

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Did you know?

 Burnetta College, at Venus, operated from 1896 to 1906 under the sponsorship of the Disciples of Christ. The school was named for Burnetta Barnes. Its four-story frame building was built with contributions of $500 by the citizens of Venus and a $5,000 gift from A. D. Leach, who became the school's first president. The college opened with 250 students on September 7, 1896. At its largest Burnetta College had 350 day students, some boarders, and from eight to ten teachers. 

 (courtesy of Texas State Historical Association)

Venus school

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Did you know?

 Alvarado resident, Charlie Reece was killed in action at Anzio, Italy during WWII. He is buried at Senterwood Cemetery. Thanks for your service, Charlie.

Charlie

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 Did you know?

 February 11, 1899 was recorded as the coldest day to date in county history! It was 10 degrees.

Cold

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Did you know?

 Law enforcement in Johnson County has a long history of doing a great job! In the third quarter of 1902 103 prisoners were jailed in Johnson County. Crimes included: horse theft – 2; felony theft – 5; misdemeanor theft – 12; rape – 2; burglary – 5; aggravated assault and battery – 4; riding train illegally – 6;drunkenness – 30; lunacy – 4; vagrancy – 24; assault to murder – 3; disturbing the peace – 4; and attacking witnesses – 2.

Jail

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Did you know?

The Liberty Hotel at 205 S. Caddo Street in Cleburne was built by A. J. Wright in 1924 at a cost of $105,000. It was a high end hotel with Big Bands playing in the ballroom. The Liberty is still going strong today.

Liberty Hotel

 

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Did you know?

 In 1896 Ringling Brothers Circus came to Cleburne. They paraded around the Courthouse Square and, according to T. U. Taylor, people would follow the circus to the fairgrounds.

Circus

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Did you know?

 In 1906 A. J. Wright established the largest dry goods and general merchandise business in Cleburne on the first floor of  his building which faced South Main Street just south of the square. Upstairs were offices and a factory for making dresses, pants, shirts, suits and leather goods.

AJ Wright

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Did you know?

 Johnson County’s first county seat was in Wardville (now under Lake Pat Cleburne), and was named for Thomas William Ward, second commissioner of the General Land Office of Texas. It was a 16’ x 16’ lob cabin and can still be seen at the Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum.

Wardville best

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Did you know?

 In 1873 the Brazos River was frozen so hard that a horse and cart could travel over it!

Frozen River

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Did you know?

 There were five Johnson County Commissioners in 1907. Pictured below, top row: R. P. Drennean and John I. Rodgers; bottom row: G. W. Humphries, Judge F. E. Adams (Adams School was named after the judge), and John W. Shropshire.

Commissioners

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Did you know?

 Buchanan was the second county seat in Johnson County. It was located northwest of what is now Cleburne. When the county was re-districted, and Cleburne became the county seat, the Buchanan Courthouse was relocated to the southeast side of what is now the Courthouse Square (Where the Christian Heritage Foundation is located today). When the 1869 Courthouse was built in the center of the square, the relocated Buchanan Courthouse became the “Cheap Cash Store”.

Store

 

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Did you know?

 Back in 1931 a man managed to smuggle beer to a prisoner in the Johnson County Jail to brighten his spirits. When officers found him intoxicated, he was handed another sentence for drunkenness.

Drunk

 

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Did you know?

 Back in 1915 the City of Alvarado had a rather suffocated upscale barber shop. Pictured below are Curtis Navgher, Oscar Hariston, Lee Mahanay, Joe Morrison, and Tom Brown. Shown have a shave and h;aircut are Bob Whitten, John  Gregory, and Charles Mahanay.

Barber Shop

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Did you know?

Back in the 1920’s The bell at Alvarado High School rang every morning at 8:30 AM and 9 AM. If you weren’t there by 9 AM you were counted as tardy. Pictured below are Jack Fowler, Elizabeth Ezell Graham and Jerienne McLeroy Fowler.

Bell

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Did you know?

 In June of 1861 the Johnson County Cavalry organized, followed by the Rock Creek Guards, Alvarado Cavalry and the Grandview Cavalry.

Cavalry

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Did you know?

 Sam Meyers, Jr. was born in Alvarado in 1858 and hung for murdering his step mother in 1880. Unfortunately, he was innocent. It is said his brother-in-law confessed to the murder on his death bed. Didn’t help poor old Sam. . . .

Sam Myers

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Did you know?

 On July 20, 1894 a watermelon feast took place in Johnson County. The picture below shows some of the participants. Front row R to L: Grandma (Amanda) Stephens, Samantha Stephens (with doll), Hugh Stephens, Mumford Stephens, Calhoun Stephens, Alva Stephens, Jim Tiner, Grandpa Neil Stephens and Clifford Tiner. (Thanks to “A Pictorial History of Cleburne and Johnson County”)

Watermelon Feast

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Did you know?

 In August 1912 the Interurban was begun by the north Texas Traction Company. It carried passengers between Cleburne and Fort Worth and back. The interurban was powered by a 480 horsepower electric motor and each car could seat about 40 passengers. The first ticket to ride the interurban was sold on September 1, 1912 to E. J. Campsey. Pictured below

Interurban

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Did you know?

 In 1883 Alta Vista College was transferred to the ownership of Red Oak Presbytery and became Red Oak Academy near Burleson. There were boarding houses for boys and girls. The school was equivalent to a junior college. 

Alta school

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Did you know?

 In 2009, the City of Keene wanted to annex seven parcels of land to its South, but was met with strong opposition from the parcels' residents. Judge John Neill of the 18th District Court subsequently blocked the annexation of three of the seven parcels on the grounds that they were outside of Keene's extraterritorial jurisdiction. On March 10, 2010, 25 residents petitioned a specially called meeting of the Johnson County Commissioners Court to become incorporated as a municipality. The name "Coyote Flats" was submitted at the meeting.

An election to incorporate the City of Coyote Flats was held on May 8, 2010. The measure was approved by a vote of 76 to 11. John Barnett was sworn in as Mayor on August 11. Coyote Flats is located east of Cleburne and, at the 2016 census, had a population of 312. Currently Coyote Flats city officials are:

Mayor - Doug Peterson

City Commissioner - Robert Slough

City Commissioner - Shirley Greene

City Secretary/Treasurer - Clara Morton

Coyote Flats

 

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Did you know?

 The community of Egan is located approximately seven miles east of Joshua and is still there today. At one time the town boasted a winery, syrup mill, nursery, gin, rug factory, broom factory, post office, school, two churches, blacksmith shop, a coal chute, two railroads and numerous stores. W. R. Martin was an early-day Postmaster. The picture below shows the W. R. Martin family in 1912 gathered in front of their Egan home. They are (on porch L-R) Walter and Willie Martin, Opie Martin and wife; (standing L-R) Clenton, Elta, Walter, Laura and Gus Martin

Egan

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Did you know?

In the early 1850’s, near where present day Joshua is located, was a small community named “Rock Creek”. The first known settlers were J. J. Mills, his family and son-in-law, S. B. Kirkham. A spring provided water for the young community. Pictured below is the Bell home in Rock Creek. (L-R) Jennie Bell, Egie Bell, J. D. Bell (toddler), Temple Bell, James Bell, Ray Bell, Bill Bell, George Lemmons, Johnny Lemmons.

Rock Creek

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Did you know?

April 19, 1867, a Post Office was established in Cleburne when it was still known as Camp Henderson. Josephine B. Wren served as the first postmistress before women could even vote!

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Did you know?

 On August 19, 1903, County Judge, J. D. Goldsmith, signed an order for Johnson County to furnish coffins for paupers who died in the county. The cost was $7.50 per coffin.

coffins

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In the 1890’s Joshua had a thriving hotel. It was located where the old B & R Garage used to be.

Joshua hotel

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Did you know?

 The Bethesda Community traces its history to 1853, when pioneer farmer David R. Jackson donated land for a community cemetery. Unmarked graves date to 1844, and the earliest marked burials are from 1856. Bethesda Baptist Church was organized on August 13, 1855. It was the First Baptist Church in the county and was called Cross Timbers Bethesda Baptist Church. Services were held in a log cabin. Initially served by circuit riding ministers, the church's first pastor was William Robinson. A Sunday School was organized in 1887. Services were held monthly until 1944, when weekly meetings were begun. After the original log cabin church burned in 1878, a new wooden structure was built. A brick sanctuary was constructed in 1959, and became a fellowship hall in 1980 when a new facility was completed. A community school was organized in 1855. Located at the head of Crill Miller Creek, it was called Crill Miller School. In 1918 it was consolidated with the Post Oak and Village Creek Schools to form Bethesda School. A four-room schoolhouse was built and served as a center for many community activities. Bethesda School was incorporated into the Burleson Independent School District in 1950.

(From Uncovered Texas History)

Bethesda Cemetery

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Did you know?

 In 1912 Floyd H. “Slats” Rogers, a Railroader from Keene, built and flew the first airplane in Texas. The plane was named Old Soggy because of a persistent droop in one wing. Construction was begun in Cleburne and completed in Ed Wallen’s blacksmith shop in Keene. Slats was an engineer for the Railroad in Cleburne but made more money transporting bootleg whiskey in the cab of his train! Slats was also the first person in Texas to obtain a pilot’s license and the first to have his pilot’s license revoked! The picture below is Old Soggy #1, Slats and his father, Charles.

Old Soggy

 

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Did you know?

 In 1883 Alta Vista College was transferred to the ownership of Red Oak Presbytery and became Red Oak Academy near Burleson. There were boarding houses for boys and girls. The school was equivalent to a junior college.

Alta school

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Did you know?

 Josephine B. Wren, first woman postmaster in Johnson County, is said to have built the first house in Cleburne. It was located at the intersection of Main and Henderson streets.

 Josephine's house

 

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Did you know?

 There was once a community named Bruce in Johnson County.  Bruce was fifteen miles northwest of Cleburne in western Johnson County. The site was settled in the early 1880s and named for early settler Horatio Gates Bruce. By the mid-1880s the community had two churches, a school, and a general store. Between 1885 and 1891 it had a post office. In 1892 it had four businesses and a population of fifty. During the first three decades of the twentieth century most of the families moved to nearby Godley. By 1930 Bruce was no longer an organized community. (From Texas Escapes)

 

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Did you know?

April 3, 1891, Johnson County Review

 Mayor’s Court Cases Tried and Disposed by Mayor Frymier this week in Cleburne:

  •  Jim Powell, drunk
  • Henry Ditty, drunk
  • Geo. Berry, assault and battery
  • Goldsmith and Jake Cohen, fighting
  • Josh Haley, fast riding
  • A. G. Willbanks and J. L. Felder, fighting

 

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Did you know?

Buchanan was named for the U.S. President (before he was elected) and replaced Wardville as the Johnson County seat of government in 1856. Buchanan was chosen for its more central location. A post office opened there in 1857 and a log courthouse heard trials and dispensed justice. A jail was built in 1858.

Buchanan served as Johnson County’s seat of government for slightly more than ten years. The town had an undependable supply of water and in 1866 an agreement was reached which allotted land to the new (adjoining) county of Hood. This action required a readjustment of the county center.

With Buchanan no longer within six miles of the county center, an election was held in March of 1867, and voters chose Camp Henderson (which was to eventually become Cleburne) as the new county seat. The population relocated to the new seat and the post office closed in 1868. A few residents remained but by the 1890s, Buchanan was deserted.

 Buchanan

 

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Did you know?

 On August 29, 1884, a hook and ladder company was organized in Alvarado by R. M. Chapman and R. H. Coleman. In 1885 the fire department began operating in the first floor of Alvarado City Hall. The inscription over the entrance proclaimed it as “Alvarado Fire Station No. 1.” The tower on the top of the City Hall was used As an observation platform to spot fires.

Alvarado No. 1

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Did you know?

In 1902 the Antioch Church also served as the community’s school. In bad weather a wagon would pick up the children and bring them to school. The wagons had chairs for the students to sit in, but  one day, while going up a steep hill, the chairs turned over and dumped the children out!

 Antioch school

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Did you know?

 In the late 1893 Dr. Larkin Leonidas Harris began his practice in Cuba near San Flat. He was joined by his brother, Dr. R. L. Harris in 1896.The doctor has a separate house for his office and wrote and filled his own prescriptions. He accepted vegetables, meat, or services as payment because cash was scares. Pictured below are (out of sight seated in the carriage) Dr. Harris, Mrs. Harris standing on the porch and Catherine Goldman Smith standing by the horse.

(Johnson County, Texas, A Pictorial History, Volume 1)

 Cuba Dr. Harris

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Did you know?

 In September of 1896 The Burnetta College in Venus opened for its first term. It was named Burnetta College in honor of Mrs. Burnetta Barnes. The building was a four-story frame structure with thirty-five rooms which included a dormitory. After about nine years, the college was turned into a public school. (courtesy of Betty Trussell)

 

 Venus school

 

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Did you know?

 Professor W. G. Slaton came to Johnson County in 1889. Slaton and his brother, Henry T. Slaton, donated the land and founded the Slaton Chapel and Friendship School in 1893. It was located nine miles from Cleburne and served the African American community of Nathan. Professor Slaton organized and directed all of the school activities. He was also the principal of the African American school in Grandview.

 Nathan school

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Did you know?

The community was known as Grange Hall and Kimbell before 1881, when the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway was completed a mile east and the town site of Rio Vista was laid out overlooking the Nolan River and Mustang Creek. Grange Hall declined, and Rio Vista grew.

 Rio Vista station

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Did you know?

 Around 1904 the J. Ganong & Gay Paint Company was established at 116 N. Main in Cleburne. Paint, wallpaper, and mirror replacements were their specialties.

 (From “Johnson County, Texas, A Pictorial History, Volume 1)

 Cleburne Paint

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Did you know?

 In 1941 Miss Hazel C. Phillips was Flower Pageant Queen at the Mt. Zion Baptist church in Cleburne. Miss Phillips who is prominent in music and social circles of the city will spend the summer in Cleveland, Ohio furthering her study in the field of music.

 Hazel

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Did you know?

 Godley was established in 1886 and named for R. B. Godley, a Cleburne lumber merchant who donated an eight-acre tract for a town site and twenty acres of land as a right-of-way to the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway. In 1888 a post office was opened and Godley had a gristmill, three cotton gins, and two dairy-processing plants.

Godley

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Did you know?

 In 1881 a mill was constructed in Grandview by John W. Westbrook, the first in the county. The mill established the new town as a center for area farmers. In 1882 the tracks of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad passed within two miles of the town. Over the next year residents and businesses moved south to be near the rail line. The population surpassed 500 by 1890. By the following year the First National Bank of Grandview opened, and residents voted to incorporate.

Grandview

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Did you know?

On April 3, 1874 John Powell sold Ira J. L. Pearson 50 acres, which is now downtown Joshua. The purchase price was $250.The first rail station in Joshua was named Caddo Peak, but the name was declined by the postal service, the first post master, Mr. W. L. West suggested the name Joshua after the biblical figure of that name. The postal service accepted the name.

Joshua post office

 

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Did you know?

 Marystown, about two miles east of Joshua, was once a thriving community. The Reverend J. S. Wilshire, his wife and seven children settled there around 1853. In 1879 Thomas Hollingsworth and his new wife moved from Alabama to the area. Marystown is named for his wife. By 1880 Marystown had a school. Below is a photo of the class of 1906-1907. (First row, L-R) Archie Whitley, Jack Gregory, George Gregory. (Last row, L-R) Johnny Owens, Ethel Jackson, Clyde Miller, and Lorene Gregory. Third row, L-R, Jessie Wilson, T. J. Hughes, Goldie Whitley, and Silas Hughes. (Last row L-R) Marsella Thomas, Estes Kiddy, Anne Gregory, Tom Tarver, Myrtle Gregory and Ollie Tarver. Miss Bertha Borring, teacher, last on the left.

 Marystown

 

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Did you know?

 In February 1872 an ordinance was passed by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the Town of Cleburne stating that hogs going at large within the corporate limits of the of town are declared a public nuisance and would to be captured by the Town Constable. If they weren’t claimed within 10 days, the Town Constable would sell them to the highest bidder.

hog

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Did you know?

Cresson is on the Hood-Johnson county line. The town was named for John Cresson, captain of a wagon train that camped in the area before the Civil War. Captain Cresson later built several houses and a general store on the site. In 1887 the Fort Worth and Rio Grande Railway was built through Cresson and extended to Granbury which bolstered the economy in Cresson by opening the Fort Worth and Granbury markets to the town's agricultural products and livestock. A post office was established in 1887. By 1890 Cresson had a population of thirty-five, a lumberyard, and three stores.

Cresson

 Cresson, Texas Late 1800's

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Did you know?

 In 1879 the community of Caddo Grove had seven businesses and a seminary headed by Prof. Sanders, Principal. The Fort Worth to Cleburne stage coach made regular stops in Caddo Grove, the stage stop there was the West Store. Businesses were:

 Dennis Owens, blacksmith

  • Forresters, groceries
  • Goodloe, Dry Goods
  • Jones, Woodshop
  • Dr. McMillan, drugs and medicine
  • West Store, general merchandise

 

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Did you know?

 City and County law enforcement around 1902 included Charles McClain, town marshal and Frank Long, Sheriff. Law and order in the first few years after the establishment of a town was maintained by the Sheriff and other Johnson County officers.

law officers 1902 

 

(From “Johnson County, Texas, A Pictorial History, Volume 1)

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Did you know?

 In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s it was not considered safe for a “proper lady” to walk on the west side of the Square in Cleburne. At the turn of the century, there continued to be cases filed against madams keeping “disorderly houses” in Cleburne. In 1915 any male person over the age of fourteen who knowingly rode in a vehicle or walked on the street with a woman who had a bad reputation could be considered guilty of a misdemeanor and be fined $5 - $100.

Lady

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Did you know?

 Members of the Cleburne Volunteer Fire Company posed for the picture below during an exercise about 1895. The two firemen operating the hose are Lorance Scurlock, left and Mabry Thomas. The first Cleburne fire unit was formed in 1891. A venerable fire horse, “Old Tom”, is remembered fondly in Cleburne before the advent of motor drawn fire equipment in 1913. “Old Tom” was used by the county to pull the road grader, but when the fire alarm sounded, he would snort and paw until he was released then he would run to the fire station and back into a stall to receive the harness to pull the fire fighting machinery.

Fire Dept. 1895 

 

 (From “Johnson County, Texas, A Pictorial History, Volume 1)

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Did you know?

 The Cleburne City Directory of 1899 – 1900 listed two architects: J. B. Cook and T. W. Myall; Two banks: Farmers and Merchants National Bank, S. B. Allen President and National Bank of Cleburne, S. E. Moss, President. Also listed were three bakeries, six barber shops, three “baths”, five blacksmiths, one billiard hall, one bowling alley and fourteen boarding houses, eighteen grocery stores and twenty-nine lawyers. The Hamilton Hotel on South Caddo had rooms for $2.00 a day.

 F&M Bank

F & M Bank

 

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Did you know?

 The Alvarado City Hall, built in 1878, was designed to house a market and jail on the first floor and a town hall on the second floor. Sometimes people, wagons and horses were so thick around City Hall you couldn’t ride a horse around the square. On market days almost anything could be bought or traded there.

 Alvarado Sq

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Did you know?

 There was an article in the April 1872 Cleburne Chronicle newspaper giving instructions for women on how to curl their hair:

 Take two ounces of borax, one drachm of powdered gum Seneca, one quart of hot water (not boiling); mix and as soon as the ingredients are dissolved, add two ounces of spirits of wine, strongly impregnated with camphor. On retiring to rest, wet the hair with the above mixture and roll it in papers as usual. Leave them till morning then untwist and form into ringlets.

curls

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Did you know?

 G. C. & S. F. Engine Number 28, a 4-4-0 with tall smoke stack, is the style of engine that puled Santa Fe trains into Johnson County in 1881. The locomotive shown below in the Cross Timbers is transporting flatcars. Flatcars such as these carried train passengers into Cleburne in the fall of 1881. Passenger cars did not begin service until January 1, 1882. Wood stoves arrived by boxcar on the early trains into Alvarado in 1880.

440

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Did you know?

 The stagecoach stop at Station Branch, southwest of Godley was near the site of numerous stagecoach holdups in Johnson County. Previously the building was a small troop station on the Military Road and then occupied by the Stephen Clements Terry Family (pictured below) Reports state the building was constructed in 1879.

Stagecoach Station

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Did you know?

 In 1912, the Johnson County Commissioners Court hired the Dallas architectural firm of Lang and Witchell to design the county’s sixth and current courthouse. The courthouse style is Classical Revival with Prairie-style details and a stained glass rotunda. Pink granite adorns the interior walls. Within the granite you can find pictures of all sorts. Below are a few, but look closely and you’ll find many more.

Grinch, Bearded Man and Bigfoot!

Grinch Bearded Man 

 

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 Did you know?

 According to the Johnson County Review newspaper, during the first week of April, 1891 the Mayor’s Court (Mayor Frymier) tried and disposed of the following cases:

  •  Jim Powell, drunk
  • Henry Ditty, drunk
  • George Berry, assault and battery
  • Goldsmith and Jake Cohen, fighting
  • Josh Haley, fast riding
  • A. G. Willbanks and J. L. Felder, 

 fast cowboy

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The 1868 Johnson County Courthouse in Cleburne was a two-story, brick building enclosed by a four-plank fence. The courthouse had a hall running east and west, and one joining it on the south. The halls, having no doors, were open at all times and had dirt floors

 

1868

 

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Outlaw, Sam Bass and his outlaw gang did more in Texas than hold up stage coaches and get killed in Round Rock. Sam had a sorrel mare named Jenny that he loved to race in Cleburne and at the Caddo Grove “Turf and Jolly Club”.

 Sam

 

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June 31, 1873

Sometime this week a fellow who claims to be a “drover” made his advent into this county with a herd of cattle. Johnson County Sheriff, O.P. “Perry” Arnold had received information that this man’s (Mr. Walters) herd had in it some stock that didn’t possess the road brand which is  required to be placed upon stock traveling through this State. Sheriff Arnold started in pursuit of the parties and succeeded in overtaking them somewhere near the Tarrant County line. Mr. Walters did have unbranded stock in the herd. Sheriff Arnold and his men arrested Mr. Walters and took the herd back to Cleburne.

 

 

O.P. Arnold 1

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In 1887 Peyton Irving established the Irving Select School for Young Ladies. The school was a success and a few years later he built a bigger school at 1100 North Anglin in Cleburne. The new school was two stories with classrooms on the lower floor and dormitories on the second floor.

Cleburne Peyton school

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The picture below, the Pat Cleburne Camp No. 88 U.C.V. posed in front of the Johnson County Courthouse in 1900. They met regularly in the “Old Soldiers Room” in the Courthouse Basement.

  Cleburne Camp No. 88

 

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The Comanche name for the Brazos River was Pub-che-o-qua which means “clear running water”. The Caddo name for the Brazos was Babatsi. Lakes formed from the Brazos and Nolan rivers are the prominent water supply for Johnson County.

indian river 

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The first settlers to reach the area, Jeremiah Easterwood and his family, arrived in 1852. Easterwood built a Methodist church, which also served as a school. Eventually the community became known as Elm Grove. The Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway built into the area about 1890. A general store was established by Charlie Moore in 1893. In 1894 the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists opened a school to train ministers on 836 acres in the community. The assembly hall was built on the campus of Southwestern Union College that year, and a post office opened. Postal Service officials selected the name Keene. The local post office closes on Saturdays rather than Sundays.

Keene Post office 

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Richard Henry Burns’ Blacksmith Shop was established in Burleson around 1886. His sons, Lucian and Elisha spent a good deal of time assisting him in the shop.

Burleson Burns Blacksmith

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No permanent Indian villages existed in what is now Johnson County, though Indians, including Tonkawas, Kickapoos, Anadarkos, Caddos, and Wacos, hunted in the area. In 1851 the Caddo Indians led an uprising that forced many of the early settlers to abandon their homes, most of which were subsequently burned. No other serious Indian conflicts occurred.

Native 

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Jim Hogg (future governor of Texas) was born in Rusk, Texas in 1851. He came to Cleburne in 1868 when he was about 17 years old. He worked for a while at the new Cleburne Chronicle newspaper and when the Chronicle building burned, he went on to become a lawyer, a justice of the peace and served as governor of Texas from 1891-1895. Governor Hogg visited Cleburne in May of 1892 and stayed at the Cleburne House. He was the first Texas Governor to be born in Texas.

 

 (Governor Hogg's signature is the fifth down on the page)

 Cleburne GovernorCleburne Governor 2

 

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November 18, 1897, Cleburne:  It was a hilarious sight.  A Police Officer was running through the streets of East Cleburne chasing a drunken man in a buggy. This was probably the first case of a DWI in Johnson County.

run away pd 

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Samuel Billingsley and his wife, Temperance Davidson Billingsley, came to Alvarado in 1852. Eight of the Billingsley families followed them to the community. The Billingsley families swelled the population by fifty people, doubling the population within the county. They helped establish the first school at Alvarado and built a horse-powered mill.

 

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In 1900 R. L. Bartley had established a blacksmith shop at 202 West Henderson (next to the Wagon Yard). Mr. Bartley was a professional who shoed horses, repaired carriages and wagons and was an agent for deep well supplies and windmills.

Blacksmith shop 

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John C. Brown’s Opera House, built in 1877, was an impressive, three-story building at the corner of East Chambers and South Anglin Streets. Downstairs was Brown’s buggy and carriage business. Upstairs was an auditorium with a stage where productions included live plays and musical performances until it closed in 1911. Friday was Society Night, when well-dressed patrons arrived in carriages for an evening of high-class entertainment.

 (Courtesy of Layland Museum)

 Browns Opera House

 

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The settlement known as Union Hill (located east of Joshua) began in the early 1850s. By the 1870s Union Hill had developed into a small rural community of families primarily engaged in cotton farming. 

Union Hill cemetery

 

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The first County Seat in Johnson County at Wardville was named for Col. Thomas Ward. He was a veteran of the Texas revolution and headed the first General Land office.

Thomas William Ward 

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Dr. John Duke and his family moved to Johnson County in 1854. They established a farm in the Alvarado area and when their ten-year-old daughter, Zilla, died in 1870 they buried her on the family farm. Several more Duke children passed away and were buried near Zilla. In 1879 Dr. Duke deeded the burial ground to the community as a cemetery.

Alvarado Duke

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The Layland Museum was originally the Carnegie Library. It was begun in 1901 under the direction of the local women’s club. In 1902 members of the organization met with New York industrialist and benefactor Andrew S. Carnegie to secure funds for a building. His gift was matched by local contributions and the structure was completed in 1905. The building functioned as a library until 1978 when it was converted to the Layland Museum. 

Cleburne Carnegie 

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In 1912 Floyd H. “Slats” Rodgers built and flew the first airplane built in Texas, right here in Johnson County! The plane was called Old Soggy No. 1 due to the right wing consistently drooping. Mr. Rodgers loved to taxi the plane through the streets of Cleburne to show it off.

Old Soggy with Horseman001

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Josephine Wren had the first boardinghouse in Cleburne. Called the Cleburne House, it was on the northwest corner of Main and Henderson Streets. It was a log cabin used for a tavern where no whiskey was sold. On May 4, 1892 future Texas Governor, Stephen Hogg stay there. By 1906 different owners had enlarged it to three stories with 50 rooms, a restaurant and a grand lobby. The rate was $2 per day. 

(Courtesy of the Layland Museum)

 Cleburne House

 

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The following is courtesy of Andy AsBerry, JCHC/FJCHC

Horatio Gates Bruce was born in Kentucky on September 4, 1824, the son of Horatio and Elizabeth (Beasley) Bruce. He married Patsy Palmer on August 3, 1848. The couple had four sons and one daughter. Bruce immigrated with his family to Texas in the winter of 1848-1849 and settled in what would become Johnson County! Here Bruce was one of the leading members of the community. He helped establish and was a founding member of the Rock Creek Baptist Church.

 In April 1862 following the outbreak of the Civil War, Bruce raised a company of cavalry for service in the Confederate Army. This unit was incorporated as Company F into the Twentieth Texas Cavalry Regiment with Bruce serving as captain. The regiment underwent training and reorganization at Tyler during the summer of 1862 and Bruce's company was re-designated as Company H. Bruce saw action in Arkansas and in Indian Territory. 

Bruce returned to Johnson County at the cessation of hostilities, resume his leadership within the community. In 1873 Bruce won election as representative for District Twenty-three which was comprised of Johnson, Hood, Parker, Erath, Palo Pinto, Stephens, Shackelford, Jones, Eastland, Callahan, Taylor, Hill, Jack, Young, Throckmorton, and Haskell counties. Bruce was a Johnson County delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 185 and served in the Seventeenth Texas Legislature from 1881 to 1882. 

In the early 1880's Bruce founded the town of Bruce, north of present day Godley. He died while serving in the legislature in Austin on January 11, 1882. He is buried in the Caddo Cemetery.

 

HG Bruce 2

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 Robert Bernerd Anderson (June 4, 1910 - August 14, 1989) was an American administrator and businessman who served as the Secretary of the Navy between February 1953 and March 1954. He served as the Secretary of the Treasury from 1957 until 1961, and was one of President Eisenhower's closest confidants. He was born in Burleson and lived in Godley.

Anderson

 

 

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Wardville, Texas was the first county seat of Johnson County. When Lake Pat Cleburne was created, both the town and it's cemetery were then located under it's waters.  Fortunately, Johnson County Historical Commission and the Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum (CTOM)  saved the original courthouse by moving it to the CTOM. The Museum has recreated  the cemetery at their location and beginning March 1 (weather permitting) will offer tours on Thursdays and Fridays from 10 AM - 4:30 PM.

 Wardville

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In the 1880's cotton was the biggest crop in Johnson County, especially around Burleson, Grandview, Venus and Alvarado. Alvarado and Cleburne had cotton gins and wagons full of cotton were a common sight. The largest crop came in 1919.

 cotton gin

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On April 15, 1912 the Johnson County Courthouse built in 1883 burned down. (Incidentally, the same day the Titanic sank)  There was only one fatality from the fire: City Marshall, Albert Bledsoe who died fighting the fire. The original courthouse date marker is located on the east side of the present courthouse.

M.A. Bledsoe

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Bud Russell was born and raised Blum, Johnson County. He was the chief transfer agent for the Texas Prison System from 1914-1944. During that time he transported more than 115,000 prisoners all over the State including Clyde and Buck Barrow. He was highly regarded as tough, but fair. He had only one escape in all those years. In the picture below he is on the right of his son, Roy Russell standing in front of his transfer wagon.

Bud Russell

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Johnson County's second seat of government was Buchanan, named for president-elect of the United States. Buchanan was founded in December 1856 on a 60 acre town site donated by John P. Bailey. A jail (first for the county) and office for the district clerk were built in 1858. Unfortunately, lack of a reliable water supply hindered the town's growth. A later survey of county lines showed Buchanan was too far from the center of the County and it was necessary to find a new site. In 1867, Camp Henderson (renamed Cleburne on July 4, 1867 was chosen. The cemetery is the only remaining trace of the Old Buchanan town site. 

 

Buchanan Cemetery

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 In August of 1854 Johnson County held its first election. After all 120 votes were counted, these were the results:

  • Chief Justice - David Mitchell
  • County Clerk - Jeremiah Eastwood
  • Treasurer - J. Robinson
  • Sheriff - A.H. Onstott
  • Tax Assessor and Collector - F.L. Kirtley
  • County Commissioners
    • A.D. Kennard
    • Christopher Billingsley
    • Carr Wise
    • Wm. O'Neal

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Double log cabin

In 1849 William Balch built a double log cabin, a trading post and a hotel in the Alvarado area. It was so hot inside the hotel during the summer that pallets were spread under trees outside the hotel. The hotel gained the nickname “The Sprawls Hotel”.

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 Ben Bickerstaff

ben-bickerstaff-3

On April 5, 1869 outlaws, Benjamin Bickerstaff and Josiah Thompson, rode into Alvarado. They were both a Civil War veterans, but Bickerstaff was wanted for the murder of a African American man in Louisiana. Later he joined up with Thompson (an Alvarado business man) they perpetrated numerous robberies and several murders in and around Alvarado. When they rode in that day, organized citizens of Alvarado were waiting and shot them both dead. Both men are buried in the Balch Cemetery. (There is a historical marker on the square in Alvarado noting the incident.) 

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James Stephen Hogg

 Hogg

Before he was governor of Texas between 1891-1895, James Stephen Hogg was on the staff of Johnson County's first newspaper, the Cleburne Chronicle, established in 1868. Another prominent state leader and contemporary of Hogg Martin M. Crane, lived in Johnson County.  In 1890 voters elected him state senator from the Twenty-first District (Johnson, Ellis, and Hill counties). In the Twenty-Second Legislature he served on a special committee established by Governor Hogg that successfully lobbied for the bill establishing the Railroad Commission. Two years later Crane was elected lieutenant governor. 

 

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The first banker in Johnson County was Samuel Houston Meyers, Sr. He was quoted as saying “If a man’s word wasn’t good, then neither was his signature.” If historical accounts are correct, all of the loans he made were repaid.

 And:

Samuel H. Meyers, Jr. He was hanged in Johnson County on March 19, 1880 for the murder of his step mother. Unfortunately, the Courts hung an innocent man. On his death bed, Samuel’s brother-in-law, James Bowden, confessed to the murder. Samuel is buried in Meyers Cemetery in Alvarado.

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hanging 

 Johnson County has had five legal hangings

  • Samuel Houston Myers Jr. - March 19, 1880
  •  John Renfro - June 26, 1896
  •  John Stokes Shaw – November 25, 1898
  •  John Renfro - July 27, 1900
  •  Henry Fugett - February 12, 1904
    •  (Henry Fugett was the only individual of African American Descent to be hanged legally in Johnson County)

Henry Fugett

Henry Fugett

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 Briden Cabin

The first settler of Johnson County was Henry Briden, who built a log cabin on the Nolan River. His log cabin still exists, and it can be seen along  State Highway 174 in Rio Vista. 

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 General Patrick R. Cleburne

General Pat 

 Cleburne was named after Confederate Major General Patrick R. Cleburne. Although General Cleburne, who was from Arkansas, fought for the South, he owned no slaves. He fought for succession and stated he could not fight against his friends in Arkansas. He presented a motion to the Confederate President in early 1864 that would allow slaves to enlist in the Confederate army and upon doing so the slave and his family would be freed. He was an extraordinarily good military leader but his views on slavery assured he was never promoted to a higher rank. He carried his own flag during battle.

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