Erath County History

Two courthouses preceded the present building. The first, a wooden structure, burned in 1866, and with it burned many of the county's important records. The second, a stone building completed in 1877, needed renovation by 1891. The town of Dublin attempted to become county seat by offering to build the new courthouse, but Stephenville won the election, and architects J. Riely Gordon and D. E. Laub were hired to design the present Victorian structure. The building, started in 1891 and completed in 1893, was constructed of local white stone quarried on the Leon River and red granite brought from Pecos County. The building has a wrought-iron stairway, tessellated marble floors, and other elegant details. It was renovated in 1949. Recently it was renovated, again.


History of Erath County

Erath County was marked off from Bosque and Coryell counties in 1856 and named for George B. Erath, one of the original surveyors of the area. The center of the county is near Stephenville, eighty miles southwest of Dallas (at 32°10' N, 98°15' W). The county comprises 1,983 square miles and is divided into two distinct regions. The Western Cross Timbers, dominated by such hardwoods as post oak and a soil surface of sandy and red clay, crosses the northwestern two-thirds of the county, while the Grand Prairie, with dark limy soils originally covered with little bluestem but now dotted with live oak groves, crosses the southeastern one-third. The northern part of the county, where Cretaceous sediment has eroded, is noted for deposits of bituminous coal, fireclay, oil, and natural gas. The sand of the southern part is of glass-making quality. The animal life of Erath County includes badgers, civet cats, grey foxes, minks, wolves, mockingbirds, woodpeckers, and quail. The county's altitude ranges from 900 to 1,750 feet; the rainfall averages twenty-nine inches a year; the average temperature ranges from a low of 34° F during January to 96° in July, and the growing season lasts 238 days. The two major streams, the Paluxy and Bosque rivers, are tributaries of the Brazos. Transportation in Erath County is provided by Interstate Highway 20, which crosses the northwest corner, and U.S. highways 67, 281 and 377. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe and the Texas Central railroads cross the central and southwestern parts of the county.

The first attempts at settlement were made in 1854 by A. H. Dobkins and Will and Tom Holland near the site of present-day Dublin. In the following year a party of thirty pioneers was brought into the area by surveyors George Erath and Neil McLennan. Included in the group were John M. Stephen, his brother William F., and a black family. The Stephens moved to the 4,409 acres of the John Blair survey, and the black family may have been left alone in the post oak grove on the Bosque River, now the site of Stephenville, to establish relations with Caddo and Anadarko Indians, who still visited the area from their new reservation in what is now Young County. In 1856 John M. Stephen offered to donate land for a courthouse and townsite if the town was named Stephenville and made the county seat. The state of Texas agreed and formed Erath County that year.
--Handbook of Texas Online


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Compilation Copyright 2007

All Rights Reserved by Linda Blum-Barton

This page was last updated on -01/01/2013