Early History of the City of Stephenville
George B. Erath, a native of Vienna, Austria, came to America in 1832. He was an Indian fighter, surveyor, soldier at San Jacinto, Texas Ranger, Republic of Texas congressman, member of the Legislature of the State of Texas, and a major in the Confederate Army. In 1849, Erath surveyed the town of Waco, and in 1949, the Waco Tribune Herald, in its Centennial edition, said, "George B. Erath had more to do with the actual settling of Central Texas than any other person."
Between sessions of the Congress of the Texas Republic, prior to 1846 when Texas became a state, Erath continued surveying. "On one of his surveying trips, he led the first party of white men ever to set foot in what is now Erath County." Erath saw the possibilities in this valley land which Spanish and Mexican predecessors had named 'el bosque, which means, "the forest". Thus began the march of settlement up the Bosque River.
In May of 1854, the heirs of John Blair, who died in the Alamo, received a land patent which had been secured by John M. Stephen. On January 12, 1855, the heirs of John Blair made a warranty deed to John M. Stephen for the land which became the town of Stephenville.
According to the "Memoirs of George B. Erath", written by his daughter, Lucy, "In the latter part of May, 1855, McLennan and I led a party of 30 pioneers into the territory now Erath County. John M. Stephen, who owned the land where Stephenville now stands, was among them. The settlers agreed to choose their homes there and in the country around about; so we laid off the town of Stephenville; finishing laying it off on the fourth of July. This settlement was then the farthest west of any on the water of the Brazos." At this time, John M. Stephen, who had come from Burleson County, made an agreement that he would give land for the county courthouse and building lots for his fellow settlers and for several churches, if the town was named Stephenville and was designated the county seat. The State of Texas accepted this agreement, and in 1856, the County of Erath was organized with Stephenville as its county seat.
In 1858, the population of Stephenville was estimated as 766. There were two stores and a hotel, which was much needed to house buffalo hunters. The buffalo ranged within three miles to town and so did the Indians.
When the Civil War ended, war veterans returned to their homes to find desperate conditions. Conditions on this western edge of the frontier were hard, manufactured goods were scarce, and home grown and home made articles became a necessity. The Pony Express was the only communication link to the rest of the world. Overland freight to Erath County came by ox wagon from Houston, and transportation was by horseback, horse and buggy, or wagon, or by foot as John Tarleton would travel 30 years later.
Some "firsts" for Stephenville and Erath County are recorded as follows:
First public utility was the water works--a horse-drawn cart and barrel--in 1870. Water was sold for 10 to 25 cents a bucket.
In 1877, the first rock courthouse was built.
First newspaper, "Union Pacific" was issued in 1871.
First mayor, H. F. McNeill, 1889-1892.
Stephenville Fire Department was organized, 1898.
First county judge, John Dupuy.
First car bought by W. H. Crouse--a 1907 red Ford.
Fred H. Chandler was the first president of the Stephenville Chamber of Commerce, which was organized in 1911.
In Stephenvilles Centennial year of 1954, a new City Hall was completed (presently the Public Safety Building).
First fine collected in Stephenville, as recalled during the Stephenville Centennial, October 27-31, 1954:
"One McInroe and one Beach, each weighing about 250 pounds, began a fight in the Tom Minter Saloon and were about to wreck the establishment. H. F. McNeill, the first mayor, and others took them into an alley back of the saloon and got them each an orange crate to rest on between rounds and made them fight it out. After they were both fought down, Mayor McNeill called their attention to the fact that he was the newly elected Mayor of Stephenville and assessed a fine of $5.00 against each of them and proceeded then and there to collect the same. He then invited the crowd back into the saloon and spent the $10.00 for drinks for the crowd. And thus the law was enforced, sentence announced, and executed with no expenses to the taxpayers--representing not only the first fine paid but the cheapest law enforcement ever afforded the taxpayers of our city to this day."
To learn more about Stephenville's heritage, visit the Stephenville Public Library and the Museum and Grounds.
Stephenville Museum and Grounds
525 East Washington
Invitations to a ladies' tea held in March 2, 1932, instructed guests to "wear a shawl and bring a relic". Thus began the first organized collection of history for Stephenville and Erath County. For years the items collected were displayed in the public library. The Stephenville Study Club appointed a committee of six women to arrange for the purchase of the Berry property and signed the Articles of Incorporation for the Stephenville Historical House Museum in June 22, 1966. A museum board of directors was selected. They agreed to open a museum for "collecting, preserving, interpreting and maintaining educational exhibits for instruction to the public in our cultural heritage and history." The "relics" which had been collected over the years were the first donations to the new museum.
Anyone interested in becoming a "Friend of the Stephenville Museum" may do so by joining at one of the following levels: youth, family, family sustaining, family patron, corporate sponsor or life membership. Memberships and donations are accepted at the Stephenville Museum, 525 E. Washington, Stephenville, Texas 76401. For general information concerning the museum or to make a contribution, call (254) 965-5880 and leave a message; your call will be returned.
The museum area currently has ten (10) nineteenth century structures furnished with period furniture and artifacts. Some of the buildings located on the grounds are: Berry Cottage, Blacksmith Shop, Buck Cabin, Carmack Cabin, Carriage House, Center Grove Schoolhouse, Chapel on the Bosque, Cowan Cabin, and the John Tarleton Ranch House (founder of Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas).
The museum is open daily Monday - Thursday 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Fridays - Sunday 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. except Christmas, New Year's, and
Easter. The Chapel on the Bosque is available for weddings. Call (254) 965-5880
CHAPEL ON THE BOSQUE
Street sweepers will once again be invading the Stephenville City Limits to clean the streets. The sweeping will begin on Saturday 17th May, 2003. The process will continue until all the curbed and guttered streets within the city limits are swept and will take approximately two week.
The process is carried out by a company contracted to the City of Stephenville. Residential areas will be swept during the daylight hours and business areas will be swept during early morning hours.
The order in which the streets will be swept is:
Downtown and Southeast sections: South of Frey Street and East of Harbin Street.
North section: Streets North of Frey Streets, East of Harbin Street and the Kingland and River North additions.
Northwest section: Streets West of Harbin Streets and Westgate, Greenview and Golf Country Estates additions.
Residents are asked not to park their vehicles in the streets when the sweepers are in their area of the City. If vehicles are parked on the street the sweeper is forced to go around and that portion of the street will not be swept.
Any resident who has questions about the sweeping project may call the City of Stephenville at 918-1257.
City Council Meeting(s)
5:30 p.m. Every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month at City Hall, in the Council Chambers. For questions, call City Secretary Cindy Stafford at 918-1212.
Airport Advisory Board
5:30 p.m. TBA, City Hall Conference Room, 298 W. Washington. Call Kimberly at 918-1292.
Parks & Recreation Board
5:30 p.m. TBA, City Hall Conference Room, 298 W. Washington. Call Kimberly at 918-1292.
If you would like more information on future events, please call (254) 918-1220 and we will be happy to try to assist you. Some helpful numbers for the following events are:
*City Park : (254) 918-1295
*Senior Citizens Center : (254) 918-1288
*Library: (254) 918-1240
*Chamber of Commerce: (254) 965-5313
|Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - Window on State Government
|Texas Municipal League||www.tml.org|
|Texas Economic Development||www.tded.state.tx.us|
|Business and Industry Data Center||www.bidc.state.tx.us|
|Stephenville Chamber of Commerce||www.stephenvilletexas.org|
|Tarleton State University||www.tarleton.edu|
|TSU Dick Smith Library||www.tarleton.edu/~library|
|Texas Workforce Commission||www.twc.state.tx.us|
|Texas State Library and Archives Commission||www.tsl.state.tx.us|
|Texas Government Information||www.texas.gov|
|United States Postal Service||www.usps.gov/consumer|
|A T & T Telephone Directory||www.att.com/directory|
|Texas Department on Aging||www.tdoa.state.tx.us|
|Texas Historical Commission||www.thc.state.tx.us|
|ALA Resources for Parents and Kids||www.ala.org/parents|
|Virtual Texan (Texas Resources)||www.virtualtexan.com|
|No Sweat (Online school research)||www.homeworkcentral.com|
POSTING DATE: MAY 7, 2003
STARTING SALARY: $1,648/mo