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Coke County, Texas
Named for Richard Coke, the fifteenth governor of Texas.
From about 1700 to the 1870s, Comanche Indians ranged the area that is now Coke County. They competed with the Tonkawa Indians to the east and the Lipans to the west for dominance of the Edwards Plateau and Colorado River valley. In 1851 Fort Chadbourne, in the northeast part of the future county, was established by the United States Army to protect the frontier; the fort was manned until the Civil War. The Butterfield Overland Mail ran through the area from 1858 to 1861.
Between 1860 and the early 1880s the only settlers in what became Coke County were ranchers attracted to open grazing land. J. J. Austin established his ranch headquarters near Sanco in 1875, and Pate Francher settled in the area in 1877, after he drove a cattle herd for John Austin and Joe McConnel to the Odom Ranch near Sanco. In 1882 the Texas and Pacific Railway began providing service to San Angelo, and settlers started coming into the region in somewhat larger numbers.
The Texas legislature established Coke County in 1889, carving it out of territory previously assigned to Tom Green County; the county was organized that same year, with Hayrick as county seat. In 1889 the county's first newspaper, the Hayrick Democrat, began publication; shortly thereafter it was renamed the Rustler. By 1890 there were 163 farms and ranches in the county, and 2,059 people lived there. Only about 4,000 acres of the county was classified by the census as "improved" at this time. Ranching dominated the local economy, and 13,806 cattle were counted in Coke County that year.
In 1891, after an election, the new town of Robert Lee became the county seat
[Excerpted from William R. Hunt and John Leffler, "COKE COUNTY," Handbook of Texas Online. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.]
Robert Lee * Bronte * Blackwell * Sanco * Silver * Tennyson
Edith (ghost town)
Hayrick (ghost town)