settlers moved first into the area along the
and then into those previously occupied by the Indians. Some of the first
settlers were Jane Irvine, who had a Mexican land grant of a league and a
labor, and Henry Jeffreys, who owned the league of land where the first
, developed. The town was at a ferry crossing on the
in the northwestern part of the county, near the site of present-day Seven
Points. John H. Reagan surveyed the town lots and began his law practice
there. The first commissioners were William Ware, David Carlisle, Alfred
Moore, Thacker Vivion, Sr., and James Hooker. The
on April 27, 1846, and named it in honor of James Pinckney Henderson, first
governor of the state of
. The county was formed from parts of
counties. Its court was first held in the home of William Ware, and later,
was organized on August 4, 1846, and comprised 3,500 square miles at the time.
was the county seat until March 1848. Bennett H. Martin presided over the
first district court in
, six miles west of the site of present Eustace, near the center of the
county, was to be the permanent county seat. James Harper Starr donated 100
acres of land in the John P. Brown survey for the town, and on September 11,
1848, Chief Justice B. Graham held court there. But
did not remain the county seat. On April 2, 1849, the archives and county
government were returned to
, for reasons not exactly clear, and
ceased to exist.
1848 the legislature formed Van Zandt and Kaufman counties out of
and reduced it to its present size. The center of the county again moved. J.
B. Luker became chief justice, James Boggs sheriff, and E. J. Thompson county
clerk. Court was held under a grove of red oak trees where the present
courthouse stands. The name of the new county seat,
, was suggested by Dulcina A. Holland (later Mrs. Dull Avriett), who hoped the
town would be a center of learning. The first courthouse, built in 1850, cost
the county fifty dollars. That year the population of
consisted of 1,155 white persons, eighty-one slaves, and one free black.
Farming was the chief source of income; the county's 106 farms had a value of
$64,214, mainly from corn and sweet potatoes. In 1850, the early settlers of
were from the upper South, but during the following decade westward migration
from the lower South greatly increased. Cotton was introduced, though at the
beginning production was negligible. By 1855 the courthouse had been sold and
the proceeds given to W. B. Stirman to build a jail, from which only one
prisoner ever escaped. The second county courthouse, a two-story, wooden,
weather-boarded structure with four brick chimneys, was completed in 1860 and
sat in the center of the square until it burned in 1885.
Sybert Hudson, "
," Handbook of Texas Online
accessed August 29, 2013. Published by the
Historical Association. Used by