Chapter III

Page last updated:  June 20, 2013

by John L. Baldwin

Creation and Organization

Texas, while still under Mexican rule in 1831, was organized into three departments.  These were Bexar, Brazos, and Nacogdoches.  The people in the northern portion of the Stephen F. Austin's colony located in the Brazos department desired that a municipality be created at the town of Washington.  They submitted a petition to the effect to the political chief at San Felipe, James B. Miller.  The petition was granted and the election was held, July 16, 1835, for the selection of officers.

The municipality of Washington later became the county of Washington and the boundaries were fixed by the Congress of the Republic of Texas, Dec 14, 1837.   Out of the original county of Washington there were carved several other counties, among them being that of Montgomery, created in 18327.  Finally, by an act of the legislature of the new State of Texas, approved on the 6th day of April, 1846, the County of Walker was created with it's territory being drawn from Montgomery County.  The boundary of the new county was set.

The act designated the town of Huntsville as the county seat, and directed the commissioners court, at its first teerm, to appoint 5 commissioners to procure a deed or deeds to so much land as they may deem necessary for the erection of a court house and jail, as long as the county was not compelled to pay for the lands so secured.  Pleasant Gray, founder and first settler of the town of Huntsville, and his wife, deeded for one cent consideration, 50,625 square feet of land in the town for use of public for the construction of a court house.  This public square was bounded by Cedar Street on the north, Main Street on the east, Spring on the south, and Jackson on the west.  Deed Records A 59-60.

The first commissioners court met on July 27, 1846 in the upper story of the Harvey Randolph house which was used as a court house until a new one was completed in 1853.  In the meeting were J. Estill, first Chief Justice (now called county Judge), he served 1846-1847;  Isaac McCary, first county Clerk.  First commissioners were:  Collard, Mitchell, Robinson and Tucker, all of whom served 1846-1848. ( Item, Mar 6, 1941)

In 1860 contracts were awarded fo rthe section of a new court hoise, with the contract for the carpenter work going to james Logan for $5, 770 and the contract for the brick work going to Monk and Hallmak for $7,500.  The Civil War interrupted construction and the original contractors died before the completion of the building.  In 1868 a contract was let for its completion, which was accomplished in 1860.  The court house burned in January 1888.  the contract for the present [1954] Walker County court house was let in 1888 to D. N. Darling, of Palestine, Texas for $20,495.  The building was completed in March, 1889.

Walker County was named in honor of Robert J. Walker, a Democratic senator from Mississippi, who in 1845, became the Secretary of the Treasury under President James K. Polk.  While serving in the Seante, Walker had introduced a resolution acknowledging the independence of Texas, which was adopted and approved by President jackson, on March 2, 1837.   Walker was also very active in promoting the annexation of Texas to the United States.

Citizens of the county later regretted the honor paid him, however, because of the stand Walker took agains the confederacy.  This led to the passage of a joint resolution  by the legislature on Dec 16, 1863 ".... whereas it is the opinion of many persons in and out of the county of Walker, in this state, that said Robert J. Walker, then a distinguished citizen of the State of Mississippi, and who had rendered himself popular with the people of Texas by his warm advocacy of the annexation of Texas to the U. S.; and whereas the said Robery J. Walker; ungrateful to the people who honored him, and nutured him in political distinction, has deserted that people, and is now leagued with Abraham Lincoln in his vain efforts to subjugate the Southern States, now struggling for their liberties and independence, thereby rendering his name justly odicious to the people of Texas, and the Confederate States of America; ... Be it resolved by the legislature of the State of Texas, that the county of Walker, in this State, be, and the same is, hereby named Walker County in honor of Capt. Samuel H. Walker, the first distinguished Texas Ranger, who fell in Mexico, while gallantly fighting for the rights and honor to the State of Texas, and that henceforth no honor shall attach to the name of Robert J. Walker, in consequence of the county in this State bearing the name Walker." Gammel, Laws Of Texas, V. 753.

There have been three changes in the original boundary of Walker County as set in 1846.   The first of these changes was upon the creation of Madison in 1853.  The act of legislature declared the Madison boundary to be:  "....Beginning at the mouth of the Bedais Creek on the Trinity River, and running up the main Bedais to a point where the line between the counties of Grimes and Walker crosses the same; thense by a direct linee to the northwest corner of a contract of land in the name of B. Hadley, on the Navasota River; thence up said stream to where the San Jacinto road crosses the same; thence running with the south boundary of Leon County to the southwest corner of Alce Garrett's survey; thence on a line to the northeast corner of Hiram Walker's survey on the west bank of the Trinity, and thence down the river to the beginning..."

The effect of this act on Walker, then, was to withdraw from it's area that portion laying between Old San Antonio Road and Bedais Creek, with the creek becoming the northwestern boundary.

A portion of Trinity County "...beginning at the mouth of a small creek the name of Chalk Creek, thence running due north to the Hiuston County line; thence with said line to it's corner of Trinity near Calhoun's Ferry, then down said River to the beginning corner..." was attached and added to Walker County in March, 1858.

The Trinity River had been to the northern boundary of the county but this act extended the county line to include an area above the river.

Finally, in 1870, the legislature passed an act creating San Jacinto County, a portion of which was taken from Walker, thus cutting off the northeastern portion.  As provided by the act, San Jacinto County was to take the following shape:  "...beginning in the channel of the Trinity at a point opposite the mouyth of Carolina Creek, in Walker County, running in a due line from thence to the head of the east branch of Peach Creek, in Montgomery County, thence down the channel of the said Peach Creek to a point parallel with the 30th parallel and 20 miles north latitude, in said Montgomery County; thence on a due line through one corner of Liberty County to the channel of Trinity, at the same point where the present line of Polk County crosses the channel of said Trinity, up the channel with its meanderings to the place of beginning...".  Present day boundary remains.

This work written and researched by John W. Baldwin in 1954.

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