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Armstrong County, Texas
Although the county was marked off from the Bexar County in 1876, it remained unorganized until 1890, when the growing population felt the need for a local government. Accordingly, the county was organized in March of that year, with Claude as the county seat.
Ranching came to Armstrong County and the Panhandle with Charles Goodnight and John Adair. In the 1876 Goodnight brought a herd of 1,600 cattle into the Pala Duro Canyon. A short time later, in 1877, he formed a partnership with John G. Adair from Ireland. Their ranch, the JA, grew to emcompass over 1,335,000 acres by the early 1880s. This included most of Armstrong County and parts of five surrounding counties. Although the partnership ended and the assets were divided in 1886, the two ranches continued to dominate the area well into the twentieth century.
During 1887 the Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad built across the county as it extended its line from Fort Worth across North Texas to New Mexico and Colorado. This provided the local ranchers with improved access to markets and eventually encouraged settlers to enter the area. Homesteaders, intending to raise stock crops, began to trickle into the county in the late 1880s. They initially settled near the townsites laid out by the railroad: Washburn, Claude and Goodnight.
[Excerpted from Donald R. Abbe, "ARMSTRONG COUNTY," Handbook of Texas Online. Published by the Texas State Historical Association]
Cities and Towns
Claude * Goodnight * Wayside * Washburn *