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Although the area was still sparsely populated, the demands of the advancing frontier
were such that on February 1, 1858, the Texas legislature established twenty-three new counties. One of these was
Runnels County, named in honor of Hiram G. Runnels, an ex-governor of Mississippi and a Texas state legislator.
During the 1870s the rich grasslands of Runnels County attracted more and more stockmen
who were willing to risk Indian attacks. By 1876, after the Texas Rangers and United States troops such as those
led by Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie had broken Indian resistance and driven them into Oklahoma, settlement began in
In the late 1870s and early 1880s cattlemen, mostly from the southern United States,
took possession of Runnels County, establishing camps along the Colorado River and its tributaries. Runnels County
was organized in February 1880 and had a population of 980. It had no towns, only scattered settlements.
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