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Did you know?

 On August 19, 1903, County Judge, J. D. Goldsmith, signed an order for Johnson County to furnish coffins for paupers who died in the county. The cost was $7.50 per coffin.

coffins

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In the 1890’s Joshua had a thriving hotel. It was located where the old B & R Garage used to be.

Joshua hotel

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Did you know?

 The Bethesda Community traces its history to 1853, when pioneer farmer David R. Jackson donated land for a community cemetery. Unmarked graves date to 1844, and the earliest marked burials are from 1856. Bethesda Baptist Church was organized on August 13, 1855. It was the First Baptist Church in the county and was called Cross Timbers Bethesda Baptist Church. Services were held in a log cabin. Initially served by circuit riding ministers, the church's first pastor was William Robinson. A Sunday School was organized in 1887. Services were held monthly until 1944, when weekly meetings were begun. After the original log cabin church burned in 1878, a new wooden structure was built. A brick sanctuary was constructed in 1959, and became a fellowship hall in 1980 when a new facility was completed. A community school was organized in 1855. Located at the head of Crill Miller Creek, it was called Crill Miller School. In 1918 it was consolidated with the Post Oak and Village Creek Schools to form Bethesda School. A four-room schoolhouse was built and served as a center for many community activities. Bethesda School was incorporated into the Burleson Independent School District in 1950.

(From Uncovered Texas History)

Bethesda Cemetery

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Did you know?

 In 1912 Floyd H. “Slats” Rogers, a Railroader from Keene, built and flew the first airplane in Texas. The plane was named Old Soggy because of a persistent droop in one wing. Construction was begun in Cleburne and completed in Ed Wallen’s blacksmith shop in Keene. Slats was an engineer for the Railroad in Cleburne but made more money transporting bootleg whiskey in the cab of his train! Slats was also the first person in Texas to obtain a pilot’s license and the first to have his pilot’s license revoked! The picture below is Old Soggy #1, Slats and his father, Charles.

Old Soggy

 

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Did you know?

 In 1883 Alta Vista College was transferred to the ownership of Red Oak Presbytery and became Red Oak Academy near Burleson. There were boarding houses for boys and girls. The school was equivalent to a junior college.

Alta school

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Did you know?

 Josephine B. Wren, first woman postmaster in Johnson County, is said to have built the first house in Cleburne. It was located at the intersection of Main and Henderson streets.

 Josephine's house

 

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Did you know?

 There was once a community named Bruce in Johnson County.  Bruce was fifteen miles northwest of Cleburne in western Johnson County. The site was settled in the early 1880s and named for early settler Horatio Gates Bruce. By the mid-1880s the community had two churches, a school, and a general store. Between 1885 and 1891 it had a post office. In 1892 it had four businesses and a population of fifty. During the first three decades of the twentieth century most of the families moved to nearby Godley. By 1930 Bruce was no longer an organized community. (From Texas Escapes)

 

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Did you know?

April 3, 1891, Johnson County Review

 Mayor’s Court Cases Tried and Disposed by Mayor Frymier this week in Cleburne:

  •  Jim Powell, drunk
  • Henry Ditty, drunk
  • Geo. Berry, assault and battery
  • Goldsmith and Jake Cohen, fighting
  • Josh Haley, fast riding
  • A. G. Willbanks and J. L. Felder, fighting

 

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Did you know?

Buchanan was named for the U.S. President (before he was elected) and replaced Wardville as the Johnson County seat of government in 1856. Buchanan was chosen for its more central location. A post office opened there in 1857 and a log courthouse heard trials and dispensed justice. A jail was built in 1858.

Buchanan served as Johnson County’s seat of government for slightly more than ten years. The town had an undependable supply of water and in 1866 an agreement was reached which allotted land to the new (adjoining) county of Hood. This action required a readjustment of the county center.

With Buchanan no longer within six miles of the county center, an election was held in March of 1867, and voters chose Camp Henderson (which was to eventually become Cleburne) as the new county seat. The population relocated to the new seat and the post office closed in 1868. A few residents remained but by the 1890s, Buchanan was deserted.

 Buchanan

 

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Did you know?

 On August 29, 1884, a hook and ladder company was organized in Alvarado by R. M. Chapman and R. H. Coleman. In 1885 the fire department began operating in the first floor of Alvarado City Hall. The inscription over the entrance proclaimed it as “Alvarado Fire Station No. 1.” The tower on the top of the City Hall was used As an observation platform to spot fires.

Alvarado No. 1

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Did you know?

In 1902 the Antioch Church also served as the community’s school. In bad weather a wagon would pick up the children and bring them to school. The wagons had chairs for the students to sit in, but  one day, while going up a steep hill, the chairs turned over and dumped the children out!

 Antioch school

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Did you know?

 In the late 1893 Dr. Larkin Leonidas Harris began his practice in Cuba near San Flat. He was joined by his brother, Dr. R. L. Harris in 1896.The doctor has a separate house for his office and wrote and filled his own prescriptions. He accepted vegetables, meat, or services as payment because cash was scares. Pictured below are (out of sight seated in the carriage) Dr. Harris, Mrs. Harris standing on the porch and Catherine Goldman Smith standing by the horse.

(Johnson County, Texas, A Pictorial History, Volume 1)

 Cuba Dr. Harris

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Did you know?

 In September of 1896 The Burnetta College in Venus opened for its first term. It was named Burnetta College in honor of Mrs. Burnetta Barnes. The building was a four-story frame structure with thirty-five rooms which included a dormitory. After about nine years, the college was turned into a public school. (courtesy of Betty Trussell)

 

 Venus school

 

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Did you know?

 Professor W. G. Slaton came to Johnson County in 1889. Slaton and his brother, Henry T. Slaton, donated the land and founded the Slaton Chapel and Friendship School in 1893. It was located nine miles from Cleburne and served the African American community of Nathan. Professor Slaton organized and directed all of the school activities. He was also the principal of the African American school in Grandview.

 Nathan school

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Did you know?

The community was known as Grange Hall and Kimbell before 1881, when the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway was completed a mile east and the town site of Rio Vista was laid out overlooking the Nolan River and Mustang Creek. Grange Hall declined, and Rio Vista grew.

 Rio Vista station

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Did you know?

 Around 1904 the J. Ganong & Gay Paint Company was established at 116 N. Main in Cleburne. Paint, wallpaper, and mirror replacements were their specialties.

 (From “Johnson County, Texas, A Pictorial History, Volume 1)

 Cleburne Paint

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Did you know?

 In 1941 Miss Hazel C. Phillips was Flower Pageant Queen at the Mt. Zion Baptist church in Cleburne. Miss Phillips who is prominent in music and social circles of the city will spend the summer in Cleveland, Ohio furthering her study in the field of music.

 Hazel

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Did you know?

 Godley was established in 1886 and named for R. B. Godley, a Cleburne lumber merchant who donated an eight-acre tract for a town site and twenty acres of land as a right-of-way to the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway. In 1888 a post office was opened and Godley had a gristmill, three cotton gins, and two dairy-processing plants.

Godley

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Did you know?

 In 1881 a mill was constructed in Grandview by John W. Westbrook, the first in the county. The mill established the new town as a center for area farmers. In 1882 the tracks of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad passed within two miles of the town. Over the next year residents and businesses moved south to be near the rail line. The population surpassed 500 by 1890. By the following year the First National Bank of Grandview opened, and residents voted to incorporate.

Grandview

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Did you know?

On April 3, 1874 John Powell sold Ira J. L. Pearson 50 acres, which is now downtown Joshua. The purchase price was $250.The first rail station in Joshua was named Caddo Peak, but the name was declined by the postal service, the first post master, Mr. W. L. West suggested the name Joshua after the biblical figure of that name. The postal service accepted the name.

Joshua post office

 

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Did you know?

 Marystown, about two miles east of Joshua, was once a thriving community. The Reverend J. S. Wilshire, his wife and seven children settled there around 1853. In 1879 Thomas Hollingsworth and his new wife moved from Alabama to the area. Marystown is named for his wife. By 1880 Marystown had a school. Below is a photo of the class of 1906-1907. (First row, L-R) Archie Whitley, Jack Gregory, George Gregory. (Last row, L-R) Johnny Owens, Ethel Jackson, Clyde Miller, and Lorene Gregory. Third row, L-R, Jessie Wilson, T. J. Hughes, Goldie Whitley, and Silas Hughes. (Last row L-R) Marsella Thomas, Estes Kiddy, Anne Gregory, Tom Tarver, Myrtle Gregory and Ollie Tarver. Miss Bertha Borring, teacher, last on the left.

 Marystown

 

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Did you know?

 In February 1872 an ordinance was passed by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the Town of Cleburne stating that hogs going at large within the corporate limits of the of town are declared a public nuisance and would to be captured by the Town Constable. If they weren’t claimed within 10 days, the Town Constable would sell them to the highest bidder.

hog

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Did you know?

Cresson is on the Hood-Johnson county line. The town was named for John Cresson, captain of a wagon train that camped in the area before the Civil War. Captain Cresson later built several houses and a general store on the site. In 1887 the Fort Worth and Rio Grande Railway was built through Cresson and extended to Granbury which bolstered the economy in Cresson by opening the Fort Worth and Granbury markets to the town's agricultural products and livestock. A post office was established in 1887. By 1890 Cresson had a population of thirty-five, a lumberyard, and three stores.

Cresson

 Cresson, Texas Late 1800's

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Did you know?

 In 1879 the community of Caddo Grove had seven businesses and a seminary headed by Prof. Sanders, Principal. The Fort Worth to Cleburne stage coach made regular stops in Caddo Grove, the stage stop there was the West Store. Businesses were:

 Dennis Owens, blacksmith

  • Forresters, groceries
  • Goodloe, Dry Goods
  • Jones, Woodshop
  • Dr. McMillan, drugs and medicine
  • West Store, general merchandise

 

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Did you know?

 City and County law enforcement around 1902 included Charles McClain, town marshal and Frank Long, Sheriff. Law and order in the first few years after the establishment of a town was maintained by the Sheriff and other Johnson County officers.

law officers 1902 

 

(From “Johnson County, Texas, A Pictorial History, Volume 1)

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Did you know?

 In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s it was not considered safe for a “proper lady” to walk on the west side of the Square in Cleburne. At the turn of the century, there continued to be cases filed against madams keeping “disorderly houses” in Cleburne. In 1915 any male person over the age of fourteen who knowingly rode in a vehicle or walked on the street with a woman who had a bad reputation could be considered guilty of a misdemeanor and be fined $5 - $100.

Lady

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Did you know?

 Members of the Cleburne Volunteer Fire Company posed for the picture below during an exercise about 1895. The two firemen operating the hose are Lorance Scurlock, left and Mabry Thomas. The first Cleburne fire unit was formed in 1891. A venerable fire horse, “Old Tom”, is remembered fondly in Cleburne before the advent of motor drawn fire equipment in 1913. “Old Tom” was used by the county to pull the road grader, but when the fire alarm sounded, he would snort and paw until he was released then he would run to the fire station and back into a stall to receive the harness to pull the fire fighting machinery.

Fire Dept. 1895 

 

 (From “Johnson County, Texas, A Pictorial History, Volume 1)

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Did you know?

 The Cleburne City Directory of 1899 – 1900 listed two architects: J. B. Cook and T. W. Myall; Two banks: Farmers and Merchants National Bank, S. B. Allen President and National Bank of Cleburne, S. E. Moss, President. Also listed were three bakeries, six barber shops, three “baths”, five blacksmiths, one billiard hall, one bowling alley and fourteen boarding houses, eighteen grocery stores and twenty-nine lawyers. The Hamilton Hotel on South Caddo had rooms for $2.00 a day.

 F&M Bank

F & M Bank

 

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Did you know?

 The Alvarado City Hall, built in 1878, was designed to house a market and jail on the first floor and a town hall on the second floor. Sometimes people, wagons and horses were so thick around City Hall you couldn’t ride a horse around the square. On market days almost anything could be bought or traded there.

 Alvarado Sq

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Did you know?

 There was an article in the April 1872 Cleburne Chronicle newspaper giving instructions for women on how to curl their hair:

 Take two ounces of borax, one drachm of powdered gum Seneca, one quart of hot water (not boiling); mix and as soon as the ingredients are dissolved, add two ounces of spirits of wine, strongly impregnated with camphor. On retiring to rest, wet the hair with the above mixture and roll it in papers as usual. Leave them till morning then untwist and form into ringlets.

curls

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Did you know?

 G. C. & S. F. Engine Number 28, a 4-4-0 with tall smoke stack, is the style of engine that puled Santa Fe trains into Johnson County in 1881. The locomotive shown below in the Cross Timbers is transporting flatcars. Flatcars such as these carried train passengers into Cleburne in the fall of 1881. Passenger cars did not begin service until January 1, 1882. Wood stoves arrived by boxcar on the early trains into Alvarado in 1880.

440

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Did you know?

 The stagecoach stop at Station Branch, southwest of Godley was near the site of numerous stagecoach holdups in Johnson County. Previously the building was a small troop station on the Military Road and then occupied by the Stephen Clements Terry Family (pictured below) Reports state the building was constructed in 1879.

Stagecoach Station

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Did you know?

 In 1912, the Johnson County Commissioners Court hired the Dallas architectural firm of Lang and Witchell to design the county’s sixth and current courthouse. The courthouse style is Classical Revival with Prairie-style details and a stained glass rotunda. Pink granite adorns the interior walls. Within the granite you can find pictures of all sorts. Below are a few, but look closely and you’ll find many more.

Grinch, Bearded Man and Bigfoot!

Grinch Bearded Man 

 

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 Did you know?

 According to the Johnson County Review newspaper, during the first week of April, 1891 the Mayor’s Court (Mayor Frymier) tried and disposed of the following cases:

  •  Jim Powell, drunk
  • Henry Ditty, drunk
  • George Berry, assault and battery
  • Goldsmith and Jake Cohen, fighting
  • Josh Haley, fast riding
  • A. G. Willbanks and J. L. Felder, 

 fast cowboy

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The 1868 Johnson County Courthouse in Cleburne was a two-story, brick building enclosed by a four-plank fence. The courthouse had a hall running east and west, and one joining it on the south. The halls, having no doors, were open at all times and had dirt floors

 

1868

 

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Outlaw, Sam Bass and his outlaw gang did more in Texas than hold up stage coaches and get killed in Round Rock. Sam had a sorrel mare named Jenny that he loved to race in Cleburne and at the Caddo Grove “Turf and Jolly Club”.

 Sam

 

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June 31, 1873

Sometime this week a fellow who claims to be a “drover” made his advent into this county with a herd of cattle. Johnson County Sheriff, O.P. “Perry” Arnold had received information that this man’s (Mr. Walters) herd had in it some stock that didn’t possess the road brand which is  required to be placed upon stock traveling through this State. Sheriff Arnold started in pursuit of the parties and succeeded in overtaking them somewhere near the Tarrant County line. Mr. Walters did have unbranded stock in the herd. Sheriff Arnold and his men arrested Mr. Walters and took the herd back to Cleburne.

 

 

O.P. Arnold 1

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In 1887 Peyton Irving established the Irving Select School for Young Ladies. The school was a success and a few years later he built a bigger school at 1100 North Anglin in Cleburne. The new school was two stories with classrooms on the lower floor and dormitories on the second floor.

Cleburne Peyton school

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The picture below, the Pat Cleburne Camp No. 88 U.C.V. posed in front of the Johnson County Courthouse in 1900. They met regularly in the “Old Soldiers Room” in the Courthouse Basement.

  Cleburne Camp No. 88

 

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The Comanche name for the Brazos River was Pub-che-o-qua which means “clear running water”. The Caddo name for the Brazos was Babatsi. Lakes formed from the Brazos and Nolan rivers are the prominent water supply for Johnson County.

indian river 

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The first settlers to reach the area, Jeremiah Easterwood and his family, arrived in 1852. Easterwood built a Methodist church, which also served as a school. Eventually the community became known as Elm Grove. The Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway built into the area about 1890. A general store was established by Charlie Moore in 1893. In 1894 the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists opened a school to train ministers on 836 acres in the community. The assembly hall was built on the campus of Southwestern Union College that year, and a post office opened. Postal Service officials selected the name Keene. The local post office closes on Saturdays rather than Sundays.

Keene Post office 

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Richard Henry Burns’ Blacksmith Shop was established in Burleson around 1886. His sons, Lucian and Elisha spent a good deal of time assisting him in the shop.

Burleson Burns Blacksmith

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No permanent Indian villages existed in what is now Johnson County, though Indians, including Tonkawas, Kickapoos, Anadarkos, Caddos, and Wacos, hunted in the area. In 1851 the Caddo Indians led an uprising that forced many of the early settlers to abandon their homes, most of which were subsequently burned. No other serious Indian conflicts occurred.

Native 

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Jim Hogg (future governor of Texas) was born in Rusk, Texas in 1851. He came to Cleburne in 1868 when he was about 17 years old. He worked for a while at the new Cleburne Chronicle newspaper and when the Chronicle building burned, he went on to become a lawyer, a justice of the peace and served as governor of Texas from 1891-1895. Governor Hogg visited Cleburne in May of 1892 and stayed at the Cleburne House. He was the first Texas Governor to be born in Texas.

 

 (Governor Hogg's signature is the fifth down on the page)

 Cleburne GovernorCleburne Governor 2

 

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November 18, 1897, Cleburne:  It was a hilarious sight.  A Police Officer was running through the streets of East Cleburne chasing a drunken man in a buggy. This was probably the first case of a DWI in Johnson County.

run away pd 

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Samuel Billingsley and his wife, Temperance Davidson Billingsley, came to Alvarado in 1852. Eight of the Billingsley families followed them to the community. The Billingsley families swelled the population by fifty people, doubling the population within the county. They helped establish the first school at Alvarado and built a horse-powered mill.

 

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In 1900 R. L. Bartley had established a blacksmith shop at 202 West Henderson (next to the Wagon Yard). Mr. Bartley was a professional who shoed horses, repaired carriages and wagons and was an agent for deep well supplies and windmills.

Blacksmith shop 

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John C. Brown’s Opera House, built in 1877, was an impressive, three-story building at the corner of East Chambers and South Anglin Streets. Downstairs was Brown’s buggy and carriage business. Upstairs was an auditorium with a stage where productions included live plays and musical performances until it closed in 1911. Friday was Society Night, when well-dressed patrons arrived in carriages for an evening of high-class entertainment.

 (Courtesy of Layland Museum)

 Browns Opera House

 

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The settlement known as Union Hill (located east of Joshua) began in the early 1850s. By the 1870s Union Hill had developed into a small rural community of families primarily engaged in cotton farming. 

Union Hill cemetery

 

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The first County Seat in Johnson County at Wardville was named for Col. Thomas Ward. He was a veteran of the Texas revolution and headed the first General Land office.

Thomas William Ward 

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Dr. John Duke and his family moved to Johnson County in 1854. They established a farm in the Alvarado area and when their ten-year-old daughter, Zilla, died in 1870 they buried her on the family farm. Several more Duke children passed away and were buried near Zilla. In 1879 Dr. Duke deeded the burial ground to the community as a cemetery.

Alvarado Duke

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The Layland Museum was originally the Carnegie Library. It was begun in 1901 under the direction of the local women’s club. In 1902 members of the organization met with New York industrialist and benefactor Andrew S. Carnegie to secure funds for a building. His gift was matched by local contributions and the structure was completed in 1905. The building functioned as a library until 1978 when it was converted to the Layland Museum. 

Cleburne Carnegie 

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In 1912 Floyd H. “Slats” Rodgers built and flew the first airplane built in Texas, right here in Johnson County! The plane was called Old Soggy No. 1 due to the right wing consistently drooping. Mr. Rodgers loved to taxi the plane through the streets of Cleburne to show it off.

Old Soggy with Horseman001

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Josephine Wren had the first boardinghouse in Cleburne. Called the Cleburne House, it was on the northwest corner of Main and Henderson Streets. It was a log cabin used for a tavern where no whiskey was sold. On May 4, 1892 future Texas Governor, Stephen Hogg stay there. By 1906 different owners had enlarged it to three stories with 50 rooms, a restaurant and a grand lobby. The rate was $2 per day. 

(Courtesy of the Layland Museum)

 Cleburne House

 

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The following is courtesy of Andy AsBerry, JCHC/FJCHC

Horatio Gates Bruce was born in Kentucky on September 4, 1824, the son of Horatio and Elizabeth (Beasley) Bruce. He married Patsy Palmer on August 3, 1848. The couple had four sons and one daughter. Bruce immigrated with his family to Texas in the winter of 1848-1849 and settled in what would become Johnson County! Here Bruce was one of the leading members of the community. He helped establish and was a founding member of the Rock Creek Baptist Church.

 In April 1862 following the outbreak of the Civil War, Bruce raised a company of cavalry for service in the Confederate Army. This unit was incorporated as Company F into the Twentieth Texas Cavalry Regiment with Bruce serving as captain. The regiment underwent training and reorganization at Tyler during the summer of 1862 and Bruce's company was re-designated as Company H. Bruce saw action in Arkansas and in Indian Territory. 

Bruce returned to Johnson County at the cessation of hostilities, resume his leadership within the community. In 1873 Bruce won election as representative for District Twenty-three which was comprised of Johnson, Hood, Parker, Erath, Palo Pinto, Stephens, Shackelford, Jones, Eastland, Callahan, Taylor, Hill, Jack, Young, Throckmorton, and Haskell counties. Bruce was a Johnson County delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 185 and served in the Seventeenth Texas Legislature from 1881 to 1882. 

In the early 1880's Bruce founded the town of Bruce, north of present day Godley. He died while serving in the legislature in Austin on January 11, 1882. He is buried in the Caddo Cemetery.

 

HG Bruce 2

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 Robert Bernerd Anderson (June 4, 1910 - August 14, 1989) was an American administrator and businessman who served as the Secretary of the Navy between February 1953 and March 1954. He served as the Secretary of the Treasury from 1957 until 1961, and was one of President Eisenhower's closest confidants. He was born in Burleson and lived in Godley.

Anderson

 

 

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Wardville, Texas was the first county seat of Johnson County. When Lake Pat Cleburne was created, both the town and it's cemetery were then located under it's waters.  Fortunately, Johnson County Historical Commission and the Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum (CTOM)  saved the original courthouse by moving it to the CTOM. The Museum has recreated  the cemetery at their location and beginning March 1 (weather permitting) will offer tours on Thursdays and Fridays from 10 AM - 4:30 PM.

 Wardville

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In the 1880's cotton was the biggest crop in Johnson County, especially around Burleson, Grandview, Venus and Alvarado. Alvarado and Cleburne had cotton gins and wagons full of cotton were a common sight. The largest crop came in 1919.

 cotton gin

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On April 15, 1912 the Johnson County Courthouse built in 1883 burned down. (Incidentally, the same day the Titanic sank)  There was only one fatality from the fire: City Marshall, Albert Bledsoe who died fighting the fire. The original courthouse date marker is located on the east side of the present courthouse.

M.A. Bledsoe

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Bud Russell was born and raised Blum, Johnson County. He was the chief transfer agent for the Texas Prison System from 1914-1944. During that time he transported more than 115,000 prisoners all over the State including Clyde and Buck Barrow. He was highly regarded as tough, but fair. He had only one escape in all those years. In the picture below he is on the right of his son, Roy Russell standing in front of his transfer wagon.

Bud Russell

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Johnson County's second seat of government was Buchanan, named for president-elect of the United States. Buchanan was founded in December 1856 on a 60 acre town site donated by John P. Bailey. A jail (first for the county) and office for the district clerk were built in 1858. Unfortunately, lack of a reliable water supply hindered the town's growth. A later survey of county lines showed Buchanan was too far from the center of the County and it was necessary to find a new site. In 1867, Camp Henderson (renamed Cleburne on July 4, 1867 was chosen. The cemetery is the only remaining trace of the Old Buchanan town site. 

 

Buchanan Cemetery

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 In August of 1854 Johnson County held its first election. After all 120 votes were counted, these were the results:

  • Chief Justice - David Mitchell
  • County Clerk - Jeremiah Eastwood
  • Treasurer - J. Robinson
  • Sheriff - A.H. Onstott
  • Tax Assessor and Collector - F.L. Kirtley
  • County Commissioners
    • A.D. Kennard
    • Christopher Billingsley
    • Carr Wise
    • Wm. O'Neal

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Double log cabin

In 1849 William Balch built a double log cabin, a trading post and a hotel in the Alvarado area. It was so hot inside the hotel during the summer that pallets were spread under trees outside the hotel. The hotel gained the nickname “The Sprawls Hotel”.

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 Ben Bickerstaff

ben-bickerstaff-3

On April 5, 1869 outlaws, Benjamin Bickerstaff and Josiah Thompson, rode into Alvarado. They were both a Civil War veterans, but Bickerstaff was wanted for the murder of a African American man in Louisiana. Later he joined up with Thompson (an Alvarado business man) they perpetrated numerous robberies and several murders in and around Alvarado. When they rode in that day, organized citizens of Alvarado were waiting and shot them both dead. Both men are buried in the Balch Cemetery. (There is a historical marker on the square in Alvarado noting the incident.) 

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James Stephen Hogg

 Hogg

Before he was governor of Texas between 1891-1895, James Stephen Hogg was on the staff of Johnson County's first newspaper, the Cleburne Chronicle, established in 1868. Another prominent state leader and contemporary of Hogg Martin M. Crane, lived in Johnson County.  In 1890 voters elected him state senator from the Twenty-first District (Johnson, Ellis, and Hill counties). In the Twenty-Second Legislature he served on a special committee established by Governor Hogg that successfully lobbied for the bill establishing the Railroad Commission. Two years later Crane was elected lieutenant governor. 

 

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The first banker in Johnson County was Samuel Houston Meyers, Sr. He was quoted as saying “If a man’s word wasn’t good, then neither was his signature.” If historical accounts are correct, all of the loans he made were repaid.

 And:

Samuel H. Meyers, Jr. He was hanged in Johnson County on March 19, 1880 for the murder of his step mother. Unfortunately, the Courts hung an innocent man. On his death bed, Samuel’s brother-in-law, James Bowden, confessed to the murder. Samuel is buried in Meyers Cemetery in Alvarado.

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hanging 

 Johnson County has had five legal hangings

  • Samuel Houston Myers Jr. - March 19, 1880
  •  John Renfro - June 26, 1896
  •  John Stokes Shaw – November 25, 1898
  •  John Renfro - July 27, 1900
  •  Henry Fugett - February 12, 1904
    •  (Henry Fugett was the only individual of African American Descent to be hanged legally in Johnson County)

Henry Fugett

Henry Fugett

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 Briden Cabin

The first settler of Johnson County was Henry Briden, who built a log cabin on the Nolan River. His log cabin still exists, and it can be seen along  State Highway 174 in Rio Vista. 

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 General Patrick R. Cleburne

General Pat 

 Cleburne was named after Confederate Major General Patrick R. Cleburne. Although General Cleburne, who was from Arkansas, fought for the South, he owned no slaves. He fought for succession and stated he could not fight against his friends in Arkansas. He presented a motion to the Confederate President in early 1864 that would allow slaves to enlist in the Confederate army and upon doing so the slave and his family would be freed. He was an extraordinarily good military leader but his views on slavery assured he was never promoted to a higher rank. He carried his own flag during battle.

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