entry, p. 25) Historical Sketch
many of the most important personages of the period. Sam Houston crossed
the Guadalupe on his way from Refugio to San Felipe, and spent the night
in present De Witt County in the home of Arthur Burns. Santa Anna passed
through the northern tip of the county en route to San Jacinto.25
Since the early 1830's, when De Witt's settlers became the first inhabitants
of present De Mitt County, many other families had entered the
region and established themselves. Some of them came in before Texas
gained her independence, but most of them came after the termination of
the Revolution. In 1840, James Norman Smith, a pioneer schoolmaster from
Tennessee, brought his family to Texas, intending to open a school somewhere
in the new Republic. Iis first offer came from two families at
Tide Haven, on the gulf coast; but he decided to come inland to Cuero
Creek, where a Mr. Blair promised to secure for him at least 30 pupils.
As soon as Smith and his family arrived in the Cuero Creek settlement,
the neighbors gathered and helped him build his schoolhouse, the first
to be built in that neighborhood. The day school was a success, and he
soon decided to teach a Sunday school also. Regular prayer meetings followed
the organization of the Sunday school, and within a few months the
Methodists and Presbyterians organized themselves into congregations and
were visited by circuit riders such as DeVilbiss, Sneod, and Blair Within
a year the little schoolhouse, a small log building in a grove of
trees on the bank of Cuero Creek, became the center of social activities
for the entire community. Day school, prayer meeting, parties, singing
fests, and original plays brought the settlers together; and by 1841 they
were becoming anxious to secure the organization of a new county with
their settlement as its center.26 In 1842 an area to be called De Witt
County was set apart by legislative enactment, for judicial purposes.27
In the same year, however, judicial counties were declared unconstitutional;28
and the Cuero Creek settlement remained a part of Gonzales
County. No further attempt was made to create De Witt County until shortly
after Texas became a part of the United States.
On March 24, 1846, the county of De Witt was legally created, and
named for Green B. De fitt.29 Less than three months after the passage
of the act of creation, the question of locating the county seat became
an important matter of dispute. At least three landowners wished to
have the courthouse located on their land. Captain D. B. Friar, whose
home was designated temporary county seat, hired a surveyor to see if his
land was within 5 miles of the center of the county. But his hopes were
25. Cuero Record, Dec. 31, 1935.
26. Life of James Norman Smith, 4 vols. (typed copy in Archives, The
University of Texas), III, 145-158, 170, 180, 194; IV, 22; cited
hereafter as James Norran Smith.
27. TA,, Feb. 2, 1842, H. P. N. Gammel, Laws of TTe: as, 10 vols
(Austin, 1898) , II, 761, cited hereafter as Garmimel, Laws.
28* Stockton v. Montgomery, James Wilmer Dallam (conmp.), Opinions of
the Supreme Court of Texas from 1840 to 1844 Inclusive--( St. Louis,
1882), 473, cited hereafter as Dallam, Opinions.
29, T.A., Mar. 24, 1846, Gammel, Laws, II, 1324.
Historical Records Survey. Texas. Inventory of the county archives of Texas : De Witt County, no. 62. San Antonio, Tex.. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth25252/. Accessed February 27, 2015.