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Irion County Texas
The Tonkawa Indians once occupied the area of Irion County. Spanish explorers Hernn Martn and Diego del Castillo traversed it in 1650; Juan Domnguez de Mendoza and Nicols Lpez followed in 1684 and reported on local Indians.
From 1858 to 1861 coaches of the San Antonio-San Diego Mail and the Butterfield Overland Mail crossed the region. On January 8, 1865, the battle of Dove Creek was fought at the junction of Spring and Dove creeks between 1,400 Kickapoo Indians and 370 state border guards under Capt. Henry Fossett. The Kickapoos were eastern Indians who had been uprooted by the American government and removed to reservations in Indian Territory; they were attempting to move to Mexico when intercepted by Fossett's troops.
Thirty-six whites were killed and sixty wounded in the battle; Indian casualties totaled eleven dead and thirty-one wounded. The area had been part of the Fisher-Miller Land Grant of 1843, but no settlements were established in what is now Irion County until the late 1870s, after the Indian threat had been eliminated. In 1874 the area became part of Tom Green County, which was formed that year from 12,500 square miles taken from Bexar County. G. W. Wood, Richard F. Tankersley, Bruce McCain, and others established cattle ranches in the area.
In 1889 the Texas legislature formed Irion County from Tom Green County, and that same year the county was organized with Sherwood county seat. By 1890, 118 farms and ranches, encompassing 193,000 acres, had been established in the county. Though fourteen of these were larger than 1,000 acres, many were relatively small holdings; the average size was 1,627 acres. Nevertheless, ranching dominated the local economy.
[Excerpted from Leta Crawford, "A History of Irion County, Texas" (Waco: Texian, 1966). Irion County Historical Society, "A History of Irion County, Texas" (San Angelo: Anchor, 1978)]
Outlaw Tom Ketchum once maintained a hideout in the county, at the mountain now named for him.
CITIES AND MUNICIPALITIES
Irion county is one of the most lightly populated areas in the state
Mertzon (1990 population, 778) is the county seat and farm center.
Other communities are Barnhart and Sherwood.
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- Website Updates:June 2017: Biographies: TANKERSLEYJan 2017: Court News; Weather News; Death News: SEIS; Crime NewsAug 2016: Gossip News: BROOKSMay 2016: County Records: 1916 County OfficersFeb 2016: World War 1 Honor Roll
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