McMullen County, Texas History
transcribed by Janice Rice
Largely owing to its location from transportation facilities, this county is and has been a ranching country. Until recently the nearest railroad was some thirty miles distant, and for that reason the most profitable resource was live stock, which could be driven overland to market. At the last census there were 114 farms enumerated, as compared with 91 in 1900. Of the vast area of 833,280 acres, only 4,369 acres were classified as "improved land." The acreage devoted to cotton in 1909 was 767 and to corn, 145. Even the cattle industry was of less comparative importance than in preceding years. The number of cattle in 1910 was 15,322; and of horses and mules about 2,100. These were the only noteworthy statistics furnished at the last official census.
Since that time the line of the San Antonio, Uvalde & Gulf Railroad has been constructed along a portion of the northwest boundary of the county, while the Artesian Belt Railroad has been extended to the northeast corner. The better transportation facilities have stimulated agriculture and general development and the present decade is certain to witness a great increase in economic wealth.
McMullen County was one of those created under the act of February, 1858, providing for rectangular boundaries where possible, and was named in honor of the empressario who promoted the McMullen & McGloin Irish colony. The county was organized in 1862, but the disorder along the border country of South Texas during and subsequent to the war caused the local government to be abandoned, and it was not reorganized until 1877. The Texas Almanac for 1871 described local conditions as follows: "The few inhabitants are entirely engaged in stock raising, some of whom have as many as 5,000 to 10,000 head of cattle, besides horses and sheep. They live on the 'squatter sovereignty' principle, but few owning or caring to own lands." By 1880 sheep raising had become the chief pursuit, but since the early '90s the cattle business had resumed its first place, and at the last census less than one hundred sheep were enumerated although some attention is paid to the goat industry, 1,477 being enumerated in the census returns.
In 1870 the total population was 236; in 1880, 701 (47 negroes) ; in 1890, 1,038; in 1900, 1,024; and in 1910, 1,091. About ten per cent were Mexicans. In 1881 the value of taxable property was $644,981; in 1903, $1,220,227; and in 1913, $2,331,997. The county has developed no towns of importance. The county seat is Tilden, many miles from a railroad, while Crowther has for a number of years been a village at the north end of the county, and is a terminus of the Artesian Belt Railroad. Another small town is located on the San Antonio, Uvalde & Gulf Line.
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