The History of Jacksboro
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- First settled in the 1850s, attracted by land offers from the Texas Emigration and Land Office.
- The Texas Legislature created Jack County on August 14, 1856 out of what was then a larger Cooke county.
- Jack County was named after William H. and Patrick C. Jack, brothers and patriots of the Texas Revolution. An act of the legislature on February 6, 1858, made Mesquiteville the legal seat of justice of Jack County, under the name of Jacksboro.
- Jacksboro, Texas is recognized not only for the famous Goodnight and Loving Trails, but also for the fact that the Butterfield Overland Mail Route ran through the town from 1856 till 1861, connecting St. Louis to San Francisco.
- Being located in one of the few Texas counties to vote against secession Jacksboro was the most westward settlement still standing in Texas at the of the Civil War. It had been devastated by Indian raids and consisted of fewer than a dozen ramshackle buildings, most in ruins. In 1870 the completion of Fort Richardson just south of the town made the site safe for settlers. The population of the Jack County seat increased to several hundred and the town established itself as the trading center for the county. Jacksboro received national publicity in 1871 when the Kiowa chiefs Santanta and Big Tree were tried for murder in the district court here, being the first time Indians were brought to the white man’s justice. During this time the town had three flour mills, a brickyard, a cotton gin, two churches, a school and a newspaper named The Jacksboro Frontier Echo.
- The arrival of the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad in 1898, followed by the Gulf, Texas and Western in 1910 made Jacksboro the principal shipping point for Jack County farmers and ranchers. The construction of a series of farm roads, combined with the completion of U.S. Highways 281 and 380, enhanced Jacksboro’s commercial position. The discovery of oil in the nearby communities of Antelope and Bryson in the 1920’s helped to diversify the local economy by adding oil-well servicing to the already successful agribusiness. Those same industries are alive and well today all these years later.
- Jacksboro is the birthplace of Texas 4H Clubs. The “Corn Club", the first Texas 4-H, was born when founder, Tom M. Marks, was the resident of what now is the Jack County Museum. Mr. Marks served as editor of the Jacksboro News as well as serving part-time as the county agent. The “Corn Club” began with a membership of 111 boys, each receiving a gallon of a new type of corn seed. The first county fair was held in 1908 with 91 boys and 30 men exhibiting their corn, in addition to 270 other exhibits. There is a room in the museum dedicated to the birthplace of Texas 4-H Clubs.
- More can be learned at the Jack County Museum, located at 241 West Belknap in Jacksboro, is one of the oldest homes in Jack County. Mr. & Mrs. Stanley Cooper built the home in 1882 with materials they freighted in by wagon from Jefferson, Texas. The Coopers paid for their home with $20.00 in gold pieces. The house contains seven rooms, with four being the original structure. The front rooms both have native stone chimneys for fireplaces, but only one fireplace is still intact. Inside you can view the extra thick oak walls where extensions were made in later additions of the home.
Events held at the Jack County Museum include: Jack County Pioneer Days which is held annually at the museum the first Saturday of June. The annual Style Show is held in September, the annual Ghosts of Jack County Dinner is held in October, and the annual Historic Dinner Tour is held the first Saturday in December, just to name a few of the events they hold.
Visit their website for more information: www.jackcountymuseum.com
- First Bank in County - Southwest side of courthouse square on Hwy. 281
- Old Jack County Courthouse Cornerstone - On front lawn of courthouse
- Jack County, C.S.A. Marker - Courthouse lawn
- Old Hess Building - 102 N. Church Street, on east side of square
- Fort Richardson Hotel - Hwy. 281 on square, southwest corner of Main & Belknap Street
- First Baptist Church - 211 N. Knox
- Butterfield Stage Line - 302 S. Main St @ Restored GT&W Depot
- Former Gulf, Texas & Western Railroad Depot - 302 S. Main
- Jacksboro’s first railroad depot - Located south off Hwy 281, on the fort grounds at the south end of Depot Street
- Sewell Park - South of the city on Lost Creek, near bridge
- G.D. Cross – Texas Ranger - Located in Sewell Park
- Fort Richardson – 302 S. Main St @ Restored GT&W Depot
- Mobilization Site, Battery F, Lost Battalion - Located on Fort Richardson grounds
- Fort Richardson - Fort Richardson grounds
- Officer’s Quarters - Located on fort grounds
- Oakwood Cemetery - Jacksboro
- 4-H Club - In front of Jack County museum, located at 241 W. Belknap
- Los Creek Cemetery - At gate of cemetery 5 miles west of Jacksboro off Hwy. 380 West
- Bryson in the rose Garden - Hwy 380 in front of the Church of Christ
- James Madison McCloud, United Methodist Church of Bryson - Located on Roberts and Center Streets in Bryson
- Jermyn community - F.M. Road 1191, 1 mile east of Jermyn
- First Methodist Church of Jermyn - Located at First & Wise Streets
- Lost Valley - Located at Carter Park, Hwy 281, 12 miles northwest of Jacksboro
- Loving Ranch House - 300 yards south of site on Hwy 114, about 3 miles west of Jermyn
- City Park - Near Hwy. 187 in Antelope
- Antelope Cemetery - At the gate of cemetery
- Antelope United Methodist Church - 1 mile east of Hwy. 281
- Truce Cemetery - At gate of cemetery on West Truce Road just off Hwy. 59 North
- Cundiff Cemetery - At gate of cemetery on Hwy. 1810, approximately 12 miles northeast of Jacksboro
- Wizard Wells - F.M. 1156 right of way, 10 miles east of Jacksboro
THE GT&W DEPOT STORY
Jacksboro was first settled in the 1850s, attracted by land offers from the Texas Emigration and Land Office.
Jacksboro was the westernmost settlement in Texas after the Civil War. It was devastated by Indian raids until Fort Richardson was built south of Jacksboro. The fort was the northernmost of a line of Federal Forts established after the Civil War, and was also the largest in the nation.
In the late 1800’s the Jacksboro Board of Trade struggled for 15 years to bring the railroad to the area. In 1870 Fort Worth was barely bigger than Jacksboro but by 1890, only 20 years later, Fort Worth, with its new railroad, swelled to a population of 23,000. The Jacksboro Board of Trade, forward thinking citizens of Jacksboro and Jack County, raised $25,000 locally to build a depot, hoping to entice the railroad company to bring the line to Jacksboro. The train would allow Jacksboro citizens transportation to other cities, an easier method of transporting goods, and make visiting Jacksboro more convenient for others. In 1898 road graders finally made it to Jacksboro as they built the bed for the railroad. Jacksboro celebrated the arrival of the first passenger train in 1909 with “a Grand Barbeque and Picnic” – 20 beef, 60 goats, and 60 sheep were barbequed for the event. The train left Jacksboro every morning for a trip to Fort Worth and then back to Jacksboro by evening.
This group of citizens then decided they had “room and rock enough to build a great city”. The Eastburn Block, the Fort Richardson Hotel and other buildings were built and people came and the town flourished – the population grew from 750 in 1890 to an all-time high of 11,817 in 1910.
The GT&W Depot represents the resilience that resides in Jacksboro’s citizens. When it was verified that the depot had been preserved inside the former Hull Chevrolet building a group of residents banded together to form the GT&W Depot Restoration Committee. This committee worked diligently to raise funds to restore this icon. Support was strong to renovate the building to be used for a tourism center and the Chamber of Commerce office. As time went on it became difficult to raise additional funds and difficult for the volunteers to negotiate, coordinate and schedule contractors to do the work necessary to complete the project as funds were received.
In 2009 the committee approached Mr. Sammy Martin, Vice President of Buford-Thompson Company (BTC), who was working in Jacksboro to build the new elementary and high school and renovate the existing high school into the junior high, as well as renovating the existing junior high into the JISD Administrative offices. The new elementary had been completed the year before; the high school was completed and opened in the fall of 2009. The 2 renovations were to begin that fall. The GT&W Depot Restoration Committee had to work quickly as BTC’s services would come to an end once these projects were completed and he would no longer be in the Jacksboro area. BTC agreed to donate the company’s time to coordinate the restoration and to handle the scheduling of all contractors necessary to complete the depot. The committee then had the task to raise the remaining funds, and this was no small task to be completed! They decided to approach the Jacksboro Economic Development Corporation (JEDC) for funding. Upon review of all completion requirements and statistics the JEDC decided the project would benefit the city as it would provide one central location for visitors to stop for information about Jacksboro, whether the visitor was a tourist, moving to the area or a business looking to locate in Jacksboro. It also realized the potential of having the JEDC office at the same location. The JEDC vote carried unanimously to fund this completion and when presented to the Jacksboro City Council they also voted unanimously in favor of this project. And so the restoration was completed as the beautiful structure you see today!