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Granbury, Texas

History

Photo: Civil War Re-Enactment Scene

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John Wilkes Booth

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Thomas Lambert and the Nutt Brothers then forked over 40 acres of land with solid timber and a good water supply to convince officials to locate the county seat (already named Granbury) in the foothills of Comanche Peak. For that reason, Lambert and the Nutt Brothers are considered to be Granbury's founding fathers.

The county seat officially came into existence in 1871, and a town square sprung up overnight. In those early days, the town square consisted of little more than a courthouse, a jail, and a bunch of saloons located next to ten pin alleys. As one historian would write, "It was a rough and wild time."

It probably didn't help that folks in the southern part of Hood County wanted a county seat of their own. They resented having to drive so far to conduct business. With no way to resolve the matter, Hood County's southernmost residents seceded and formed Somervell County in 1875.

It was about that time that the new courthouse (a native limestone structure that had replaced the original log-cabin courthouse) burned to the ground. Residents tried to salvage part of the building but finally gave up. The courthouse they wound up building from scratch in 1891 is the one that still stands today.

Photo: General Granbury

Barnard's venture proved risky because the land surrounding his outpost still belonged to Indians. In fact, their presence led folks to name the region's most distinctive landmark (a nearby 1,129-foot mesa) Comanche Peak. During Barnard's heyday, the area surrounding his outpost typified the wild west. There were no lawmen, so folks pretty much did as they pleased. The legislature set the stage for some semblance of order when it created Hood County.

Hood County and its county seat, Granbury, bears a history born of America's Civil War.

The war ended in 1865, and the Texas Legislature established Hood County a year later with the provision that the county seat be named Granbury and located within six miles of the pecan-rich county's geographical center.

The county's namesake is John Bell Hood, a Confederate general who commanded the Army of the Tennessee. The county seat is named after Hiram B. Granbury, a Confederate general who led the Texas Brigade. General Granbury died in the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee in November 1864. He was buried in Columbia, Tennessee but re-buried in the Granbury Cemetery in 1893.

Although Granbury and Hood County borrow their names from Confederate soldiers, it was Charles Barnard, a Yankee, who settled the territory. Barnard and his brother did so by opening a trading post just west of the Brazos River in 1847.

Those early days also gave birth to the town's first newspaper. Captain W.L. Bond got the presses rolling in 1872 with a publication called The Vidette. Ashley Crockett, the grandson of Davy Crockett, joined Bond as an apprentice and took over soon thereafter when his employer unexpectedly died. Crockett renamed the newspaper The Graphic, and that publication later evolved into the Hood County Tablet.

Mrs. A.B. Crawford, a woman who proved key in the restoration of Granbury's town square, bought The Tablet in 1937 and, in 1945, merged it with another publication, the Granbury News, to form the Hood County News Tablet.

Some of the headlines in Granbury's earliest newspaper were provided by the cowboys who came here to wet their whistle.

Of Granbury's seven saloons, the cowboys' favorite may have been the Aston-Landers Saloon on the north side of the square. Mr. Aston's fiancee, Dollie, didn't much care for the place, though. So to mend domestic fences, Aston built Dollie a lavish home. "Dollie's House" remains one of the most beautiful properties among the many that punctuate Granbury's historical landscape.

Most of the cowboys that spirited downtown Granbury rode in on their horses. Some came to town, though, via the Fort Worth and Rio Grande Railroad. The train's arrival in 1887 created a boom for Granbury's agrarian economy; and by 1905, there stood five cotton gins and a cottonseed oil mill. All were needed to help meet the huge demand for Granbury's number one cash crop.

Granbury's history officially began to resurrect in 1969 with the restoration of the Hood County courthouse that was built in 1891. Soon thereafter, the Granbury Opera House, built in 1886, was restored, and the jail, built in 1885, was ultimately converted into a museum.

Today, Granbury's history is beautifully reflected by the shimmering waters of Lake Granbury, which was created as a Brazos Reservoir in 1969.

Written by Gary Hancock

Photo: Elizabeth Crockett's Grave

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