By A. W. Neville
One hundred years ago today (December 17, 1840, which was a Thursday) that portion of Red River County which was given the name of the then President of the Republic of Texas, Lamar, became a political subdivision of Texas, with the right to manage the affairs of its citizenship under the laws of the republic.
The bill, which created Bowie County at the same time, was finally enacted December 16, was signed by D. S. Kaufman, speaker of the House of Representatives and by Anson Jones, president pro tem of the Senate and the next day had been enrolled and was presented to the Vice President, David G. Burnett, for signature. He signed it at once and completed the Act. President Mirabeau Lamar had been granted leave of absence by the Congress to go to United States for medical treatment, and Burnett was acting president.
December 3 a petition had been presented in the House of "Sundry citizens of Red River County," asking that the County which then reached from the western boundary of Arkansas Territory to the eastern line of Fannin County, be divided. This was referred to the Committee on county boundaries and Monday, December 7, the committee offered the bill and it was ordered to lay on the table and come up under Order of the Day.
Friday, December 11, the Bill was taken up and its caption read, providing for creation fo two counties, with the names left blank until the Committee had considered it. The alternate names "Bogue Homer" and "Tennessee" were inserted for the eastern county and "Lamar" and "Calhoun" for the western county. During discussion of the Bill, one member moved to call the eastern county "Fredonia" and another member moved to name the western county "Siskemore." The bill was readd a second time and referred to a select committee.
Report on Bill
Monday, December 14, the committee reported on the bill with some amendments, and had decided on the names of Tennessee and Calhoun. In the debate following the name Tennessee was stircken out and motion to insert Bogue Homer was made but had no second and a motion that the name Bowie be inserted was adopted. The name Calhoun was left in for the western county.
Wednesday, December 16, the Senate notified the House that it had passed the Bill with amendments, one of which was to strike out Calhoun and insert Lamar. This was on motion of Senator Robert Potter who was the Senator for Red River and Fannin Counties in this Fifth session of the Congress.
The Chief Justice of counties at that time, corresponding to the County Judge of today, were elected by the Congress for four years. The same day the Bill was signed the Senate notified the House it was ready to receive nominations for this office in the two new counties. Two representatives from Red River County made nominations for Lamar County, one of them John A. Rutherford, the other of William M. Crisp. The ballot was taken next day, separately in the two houses. Mr. Rutherford received 31 votes and Mr. Crisp 13 votes, and the Speaker announced -- election of Mr. Rutherford. Under the provisions of the Act, he was instructed to hold an election the first Monday in February 1841, for choosing County officers and on the first Thursday in June 1841, the voters were to hold an election to select a County seat which was required to be within five miles of the geographical center of the county.
Who Was Elected
There is no record of the vote for officers but the State Archives in Austin show that Judge Rutherford reported election of
John R. Craddock, county clerk.
William R. Brown, sheriff
George W. Wright, Coroner
John T. Harmon, county surveyor
Albert G. Kimbell, district clerk
Several justices of the peace were also elected for the various "beats" which correspond to justice precincts of today, except there were 16 beats provided for.
The tax assessor, William H. Merrill, and the treasurer, Henry J. Harmon, were appointed by the Court, composed of the Chief Justice and two of the Justices of the Peace, selected by their fellow justices as associates to the chief justice.
George W. Wright had bought a thousand acres of land from Larkin Rattan, who had located a headright which is now included in most of Paris east of Fifteenth St. He had built his home on what is now South 18th St. a few blocks southwest of the Plaza, and his store was where now is the north end of the block on the west side of the Plaza. The first term of the county court was held in his store, February 22, 1841 at which time bonds of the county officers were presented and approved and an order made to have a survey made at equal distances from the eastern and western boundaries of the county and 16 miles south of the Red River, preparatory to selecting a site for a county seat for which election was to be held the first Thursday in June.
No Record of Election
There is no record of this election, but there is a record that on July 7, 1841, the court considered the laying off of lots in the town of Lafayette. John Watson had donated 40 acres from his headright on which to build the county seat and the name of Lafayette had been selected. This 40 acres is northwest of Paris, near the Sumner road, a little beyond the airport, and there that summer John Lovejoy built a clapboard courthouse and there courts were held until April 24, 1843.
December 26, 1842, the Congress had enacted a bill changing the southern boundary of Lamar county, reducing its area slightly, and appointing five men, residents of the county, to again ascertain the geographical center of the county and nominate two or more points for a county seat. This was done and donation of 100 acres of land by Mathias Click about five miles south of the present city of Paris was accepted and the county seat named "Mount Vernon," where court was held from July 24, 1843, until April, 1844. There is no record of a court house being built on the Click donation and tradition is that court was held in Mat Click's tavern and in summer under a large tree on his place.
The only record of the next election is found in the Clarksville Standard newspaper which said that in April 1844, an election for a Lamar County seat resulted in Mount Vernon receiving 129 votes, Somerville 221 votes and Paris 267 votes. Paris was selected by the people, the commissioners having nominated Mount Vernon and Somerville. No one has been found who knows where was Somerville, but it must have been in a few miles of Paris and Mount Vernon as the bill required it to be not more than three miles from the center of the county.
Donates 50 Acres
George Wright had donated 50 acres of his land for the county seat and the first term of the court following declaration of the result of the election was held in his store, April 29, 1844. Major George Stell built the first court house of logs on the public square, now the Plaza and the 50 acres, except two lots which George Wright reserved was deeded to the county, and from the sale of lots the court house was to be paid for and other county expenses met. The town had been surveyed by Major Stell. The northwest corner of the 50 acres was at the junction of present day north 18th and West Price Sts. extending south to half a block south of Kaufman St. and east to about half a block east of 23rd St.
The portion of Red River county which was allotted to Lamar was fairly well settled for such a new country. Probably one of the oldest settlers in point of continuous residence was the elder John Emberson, who had come in 1824 and had his settlements on Red River, later moving to what is known as Emberson Prairie. Sam Fulton had come with his cousin Robert Cravens in 1833 and had a trading house at Franklin, half a mile west of the present-day Arthur City. John R. Craddock and Robert Wheat came that same year and were given land as early settlers.
Mattias Click and his family came in 1834 and he and his sons located an immense area south of where now is Paris. Sherrod Rowland and John G. Bates also came that year and settled.
Influx in 1835
There was an influx in 1835. Lawrence Tinnin, Ralph Davis, William M. (Buckskin) Williams, John A. Rutherford, Reddin Russell, Larkin Rattan, Wesley Askins, George W. Cox, Joseph Houndshell, John H. Fowler, Robert Patton, J. H. Mebane, all of whom became more or less prominent in county affaris at and after its organization.
Independence year, 1836, brought Leven Moore, Hamlin Williams, Ignacius Aud, Isaac and Jacob Lyday, Abe Skidmore and others, and in 1837, came George Stell, John T. Harmon, Dr. Henry McDonald, W. B. Patton, John L. Lovejoy, James Bourland, Jesse Shelton, John Johnson, Alexander Stephenson. Samuel C. Price came in 1838, and in 1839 James and William Brackeen arrived as did Thomas Skidmore and James Wortham.
George Wright had come to Texas and settled in Red River county, then known as Miller county, Arkansas Territory, in 1816, and lived on Red River until he came to the western part of the county in 1839 and lived here until his death in 1877.
Who Judges Have Been
Before John Rutherford finished his four years as Chief Justice the Congress had made that office elective by the people
and his successor, elected in February, 1845, was William M. Crisp, who resigned in September, 1846 and John H. Crook
was elected. H. R. Latimer was elected Probate Judge in 1846, while Crook continued as Chief Justice until August, 1848,
when Latimer was elected to that position and the office of Probate Judge was discontinued. Crook was re-elected as
Chief Justice in 1851, and continued until August, 1857, when he resigned and Jason Wilson was chosen to complete the
term. Following Jason Wilson came:
Ed Collins, August, 1858.
Francis Miles, August, 1862.
Alex Smith, August, 1864.
Wm. Bramlette, August 1865.
W. J. Bonner, August 1866.
Sam C. Bryson, April, 1876.
Walter S. Moore, November, 1878.
M. J. Hathaway, November, 1884.
C. S. Neathery, November, 1888.
J. W. Rountree, November, 1890.
Joe C. Hunt, November, 1894.
C. S. Neathery, November, 1895.
William Hodges, November, 1898.
John W. Love, November, 1902.
L. L. Hardison, November, 1906.
Rube S. Wells, December, 1910.
T. L. Beauchamp, December, 1914.
W. L. Hutchison, December, 1918.
Dewey Lawrence, January, 1923.
J. M. Braswell, January, 1927.
C. A. Martin, January, 1931.
R. V. Hammack, January, 1937.
E. F. Harrell is County Judge-elect and will take his office January 1, 1941.
Election Dates Vary
The variation in the dates of these men taking office is due to changes in time of holding elections--first in February, then in August, then in November. During reconstruction following the war between the sections, some were appointments by the military overlord. For a time, the elected officers qualified a few days after the result of the election, but for nearly twenty years the law has provided that all terms of County and precinct officers begin January 1 following election. Sam C. Bryson, elected in 1876 under the present Constitution, was the first to have the title of county judge, the others being called Chief or Presiding Justice, though the duties of the office were practically the same.
During some of this time election of county officers was for only one year.
Names of Sheriffs
The sheriffs, following William R. Brown, elected February, 1841 and continuing three years, to February 1844, were:
Elbert Early, February, 1844.
Reddin Russell, November, 1845.
Cyrus K. Holman, April, 1848.
John D. Thomas, February, 1851.
Cortez Roland, August, 1854.
Thos. B. Hearn, August, 1858.
N. K. Record, February, 1860.
Ben H. Wortham, August, 1860.
Isaac T. Gaines, June, 1861.
N. H. Beauchamp, August, 1862.
John C. Gibbons, August, 1865.
W. A. Cox, August, 1866.
John S. Bland, October, 1868.
John A. Gose, November, 1873.
John Milsap, November, 1880.
G. Mack Crook, November, 1882.
Wm. T. Gunn, November, 1884.
D. S. Hammond, November, 1892.
Geo. W. Martin, November, 1896.
M. S. Carpenter, November, 1902.
W. F. Walker, November, 1908.
Wm. A. Lain, November, 1912.
Eb Clarkson, November, 1916.
John E. Brown, November, 1920.
E. R. Stubblefield, January, 1925.
W. A. Walters, January, 1929.
Clyde Shelton, January, 1933.
J. H. Ratliff, January, 1937.
Reb H. Burks is sheriff-elect and will take office January 1, 1941.
Changes in this office during the war of 1861-65 were due to the incumbents going into the Confederate army and during reconstruction they were some appointed and some elected.
The first county clerk, John R. Craddock, served nearly 12 years and was followed in 1852 by John S. Chisum. Others
Jacob Long, August, 1854.
Henry Moore, August, 1862.
R. Peterson, November, 1867.
M. L. Armstrong, March, 1869.
Sam Long, March, 1870.
G. W. DeWitt, May, 1870.
J. H. Wright, July, 1873.
J. W. Kavanaugh, January, 1874.
S. W. Williams, March, 1874.
D. Ridley, April, 1874.
C. B. Pegues, November, 1882.
S. H. Hancock, November, 1886.
W. B. Kavanaugh, November, 1890.
W. A. Roach, November, 1896.
L. W. Ross, November, 1898.
Dee Thompson, November, 1900.
L. W. Ross, November, 1904.
Sam C. Johnston, November, 1906.
John S. Baker, November, 1910.
W. H. Chastain, May, 1916.
Bob Carnahan, November, 1916.
Blake Folsom, November, 1920.
J. E. Ausmus, January, 1925.
Joe Hillhouse, January, 1929.
R. V. Hammack, January, 1933.
Roy Weaver, January, 1937.
Clyde Humphrey, county clerk-elect will take charge of the office January 1, 1941.
The brief term of J. W. Kavanaugh in 1874 was caused by his death two months after assuming office and one of his deputies, S. W. Williams, was appointed until an election could be held.
Assessing and collecting of taxes in Texas has undergone perhaps more changes than any of the other offices.
The first tax assessors were appointed by the Chief Justice and his associates and on organization of the county William H. Merrill was appointed.
He was followed by John M. Smith, January 6, 1845. Collection of taxes then, and for a time was by the sheriff.
The Tax Assessors
The county records from 1844 to 1850 are non-existent, and it is not known who was assessor during those years. Before
1850, however, the assessor and collector was combined and was made elective by the people, and Jason Wilson was
filling the office that year until August when Robert Price was elected. Others who held the combined office and the date
of beginning their terms were:
Alex Wright, 1852.
Thos. W. Skidmore, 1854.
M. H. McCuistion, 1856.
Alva Rogers, 1862.
R. C. Walker, 1863.
W. A. Cox, 1864.
Z. R. Petty, 1866.
R. S. Brame, 1866.
David Grant, 1869.
M. H. McCuistion resigned to enter the Confederate army, as did Alva Rogers after a brief term. Petty was an appointment to finish an unexpired term.
Under the carpetbag Constitution, the county was divided into five justice precincts and the justices did the assessing.
This brought David Grant's term to an end in 1870, and the justices continued assessing until the constitution of 1876
provided for separate assessors and collectors. The assessors and their terms were: J. F. McMurray, 1876.
J. K. P. Holt, 1880.
W. J. Wilson, 1882.
J. E. Bobo, 1886.
Henry Miller, 1890.
L. M. McCrummen, 1896.
R. N. Gossett, 1898.
R. M. Owsley, 1902.
James W. DeWeese, 1906.
Joe Pollard, 1910.
Ben Carnahan, 1912.
Walter, Nix, 1916.
Roscoe Grubbs, 1920.
Iris Tubb, 1924.
Roy Cass, 1928.
Dorothy Latimer, 1932.
Offices Again Combined
The offices of Assessor and Collector were agian combined and Clyde Humphrey, who had served a term as Collector was elected in 1934 followed by Royce Whitten, 1936.
O. W. Woodward is Assessor-Collector-elect and takes office January 1, 1941.
The Collectors from the separation of the office until it was again combined with the Assessor were:
Hedge A. Bland, 1876.
Chas. P. Matthews, 1880.
John Milsap, 1884.
John A. gose, 1888.
Ben A. Bywaters, 1892.
John T. Bullington, 1896.
Wiggins Hancock, 1898.
John T. Bullington, 1902.
Joe F. Williams, 1906.
Rube E. Dennis, 1908.
Tom Jones, 1912.
Bruce Brashears, 1916.
H. R. Geron, 1920.
Cyrus Cothran, 1924.
Lee Yancey, 1928.
Clyde Humphrey, 1932
District Court Clerk
A clerk for the District Court was provided for each county from the beginning and on organization of Lamar County in
1841, A. G. Kimball was elected to the office, which appears to have had four-year terms. Kimball resigned in 1843 and
Jacob Long was elected to succeed him and re-electred until 1854, when he succeeded John Chisum as County Clerk and
Hamlin Williams was chosen District Clerk. He was "removed" by the reconstruction machine in 1865 and M. L.
Armstrong was appointed. Others appointed from time to time were:
James M. Long, 1866.
George Armstrong, 1867.
M. L. Armstrong, 1869.
G. W. DeWitt, 1870. (The offices of District and County Clerk were apparently the same during reconstrcution.)
J. W. Kavanaugh, 1874.
Sam W. Williams, 1874.
D. Ridley, 1874.
The Constitution of 1876 made the office elective for two-year terms, and D. Ridley chose the County Clerk's office and
Sam W. Williams was elected District Clerk. Those following him have been:
T. J. Record, Nov. 1878.
W. R. Wood, Nov. 1884.
George W. Martin, Nov. 1890.
J. Noah Blake, Nov. 1894.
B. F. Amonnette, Nov. 1898.
Clarence Sperry, Nov. 1900.
Charles Roach, Nov. 1904.
Robert E. Wood, Nov. 1908.
J. M. Braswell (Appointed to fill office when R. E. Wood died in May, 1909).
B. L. Jordan, August, 1909.
R. P. Young, Nov. 1912.
Walter DeWeese, Nov. 1916.
Edwin Moore, Nov. 1920.
Mrs. Ada DeWitt, Nov. 1924.
R. L. Lattimore Jr., Jan. 1933.
Cedric Townsend, Jan. 1937.
Seaman Roach is to take the office January 1, 1941, having been elected in November.
There were no county attorneys in the Republic nor the early years of the State. The District Attorney apparently handled all cases, though as all Lamar County District Court records previous to March, 1916 were burned there is no means of learning who were district attorneys.
County Attorney Provided
The Legislature, by an act in 1866, provided for a County Attorney to be appointed for four years by the police court
(county court) and the office was given Joe Ballinger. In 1873 under a new election law, Richard Wooldridge was elected
and re-elected under the new Constitution in 1876, but for only two years. Those following him were:
Jake C. Hodges, Nov. 1878.
J. Will Ownby, Nov. 1882.
H. B. Birmingham, Nov. 1886.
J. M. Long, Nov. 1888.
B. B. Sturgeon, Nov. 1890.
J. M. Long, Nov. 1891.
Tom W. Carlock, Nov. 1896.
L. L. Hardison, Nov. 1900.
R. L. Lattimore Sr., Nov. 1904.
W. A. Hutchinson, Nov. 1908.
Charles Roach, Nov. 1912.
C. A. Martin, Nov. 1914.
Grady Sturgeon, Nov. 1916.
R. F. Eubank, Nov. 1918.
John Sturgeon, Nov. 1922.
John T. Hutchison, Nov. 1926.
J. M. Braswell, Jan. 1933.
Grady Sturgeon, Jan. 1935.
M. D. Emerson, Jan. 1937.
Archie M. Harrison will become County Attorney January 1, 1941, by election in November.
From adoption of the Constitution of 1876 and for 10 years, the County Judge was ex-officio superintendent of the Public
Free Schools. In 1887 the Legislature created the office and the Commissioners Court appointed J. J. Richardson to the
office. He was elected in 1888 and again in 1890 after which he was not a candidate and those following him were:
Leslie V. DeWitt, Nov. 1892.
J. R. (Dick) Roach, Nov. 1900.
John A. Monroe, Nov. 1904. Monroe resigned in his second term which was finished by appointment of R. B. Binnion in 1907
Binnion resigned in his second elective term and was followed by:
W. H. Snow, Sept. 1911.
James A. Fulks, Nov. 1916.
Miss Mysie Robinson, Nov. 1920.
Walter Martin, Nov. 1924.
Delbert Kyle, Jan. 1927.
Miss Mary Jones, Jan. 1931.
P. M. Chism, Jan. 1935.
J. G. Brunson, Jan. 1939.
This office was assigned four-year terms during the incumbency of Miss Jones.
Lacking District Court records previous to 1916, the names of the early-day District Attorneys are not known, William M. (Buckskin) Williams was District Attorney when the first term of District Court was held in Lamar County, April 12, 1841, by Judge John Hansford. There is no record of his election by the voters of the county and it is probable that the office was filled by the Congress or perhaps by the appointment of the District Judge, nor is it certain that there was a District Attorney for each County.
6th District Court
In 1887 the Legislature created the office for the Sixth Judicial District and Governor Ross appointed James H. Lyday of
Fannin County and in 1888 he was elected for another two-year term. Following him were:
Nat P. Doak, Red River County, Nov. 1890.
A. J. Nichols, Lamar County, Nov. 1894.
John Meade, Fannin County, Nov. 1900.
Dave Watson, Red River County, Nov. 1904.
R. L. Lattimore, Sr., Lamar County, Nov. 1908.
Tray Lipscomb, Fannin County, Nov. 1912.
J. R. Kennedy, Red River County, Nov. 1916.
J. R. Kennedy qualified January 1, 1917 and died after attending a term of court in Bonham. Governor Jim Ferguson appointed A. L. Robbins, Red River County to fill the term and he was elected for a full term in 1918.
George P. Blackburn, Lamar County, took the office January 1921, and Wyatt Baldwin, a Fannin County attorney who had come to Paris, became District Attorney January 1, 1925. The Legislature enacted a bill abolishing the office effective January 1, 1929, and Balwin completed his second term, since which the office has not existed.
Treasurers of Lamar County following Henry Harmon who was appointed in 1841 by the Court, the office then being not
elective, were (the record from 1844 to 1850 not being in existence):
T. R. H. Poteet, August, 1852.
K. L. Tudor, August, 1856.
T. R. H. Poteet, August, 1860.
J. J. Farrar, July, 1866.
In 1870, the Assessor and Collector was ordered to [unreadable].
Sam Long Made Treasurer
Sam Long was elected Treasurer in January, 1871 but refused to qualify because the bond had been increased from
$10,000 to $35,000. A few months later the Court set the bond at $15,000 which Mr. Long made and served until
succeeded by election of Lewis W. Ross, November, 1873.
John T. Henley, Nov. 1878.
Frank D. Mallory, Nov. 1894.
Scott Galbreath, Nov. 1900.
Calvin Morgan, Nov. 1904.
W. A. Nobles, Nov. 1908.
A. G. Hubbard, Nov. 1912.
Harry L. Baker, Nov. 1914.
Wallace Collins, 1922.
O. C. Dickson, Nov. 1924.
J. H. Bentley, January, 1927.
J. E. Castleberry, 1930, who was re-elected to the office in November and will qualify for another term, January 1, 1941.
The 16 years of John T. Henley in office is the record.
The record of County Commissioners, Justices of the Peace, Constables and Public Weighers is so incomplete that it would not be worth while to attempt to include them. It might be interesting to note that many of the officers listed served from time to time in various offices and especially was this noticeable during reconstruction and for some years afterward . . . . [unreadable].
Lamar County has been the home of some men who attained prominence in the State as well as locally, and it may be that
some time in the future the County will supply the chief executive a successor as Governor to the President of the
Republic for whom the County was named.
Created on ... March 12, 2005.
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