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Montague County Court House
Organization of the area occurred twenty years after the Texas Revolution 1836. The state legislature established the county on Christmas Eve in 1857. The following year, on August 2, 1858, the county was formally organized with its present boundaries carved from Cooke County. The new county was named for Daniel Montague, surveyor of the Fannin Land District and veteran of the Mexican War.
At the time the area of Montague County had less than 1,000 residents. A slight majority of these inhabitants had immigrated from the upper South, primarily Tennessee but also from Kentucky and Arkansas. A substantial number arrived from north of the Mason-Dixon line, mostly farmers from Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. As a result of this immigration pattern, the county did not reproduce the slaveholding plantation society that characterized the state. This in part explains the position Montague County took when voters rejected secession 86 to 50 in 1861.
The end of the Civil War did not resolve the problem. Bands of Comanche and Wichita Indians continued to harass the county until the mid-1870s. As a result of these raids, in 1870 only 890 residents had settled in the county. During the first few years of the 1870s, however, an organized effort successfully drove the Indians from the county, allowing the governor in 1878 to pronounce that Montague County was no longer a frontier county. As the number of Indian raids decreased, the number of settlers increased. By the early 1880s the population was 11,000.
The emergence of large cattle ranches and the continued increase in population attracted railroads to the county in the early 1880s. In 1882 the Fort Worth and Denver Railway reached southwestern Montague County. The railroad enabled the growth of Bowie, Sunset, and Fruitland. An election was held in 1884 and, although Bowie received more votes than Montague, it did not collect the required two-thirds majority needed to move the county seat. Since the mid 1880s, however, Bowie has remained both the largest and most important town in the county, while Montague's population has never exceeded 500.
Cities and Towns
Belcherville (unincorporated) Bonita (unincorporated) Bowie Nocona Capps Corner (unincorporated) Sunset
Forestburg (unincorporated) Illinois Bend (unincorporated)
Red River Station (no longer exists)
Ringgold (unincorporated) Spanish Fort (unincorporated)
St. Jo Stoneburg (unincorporated)
May 2017: County Records: 1900 Fugitives from Justice
Jefferson County, Oklahoma (north)
Love County, Oklahoma (northwest)
Cooke County (east)
Wise County (south)
Jack County (southwest)
Clay County (west)
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