The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956 Page: 216
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
which McLennan County was officially organized, and proceeded
rapidly after that date.2
Fencing was one of the paramount problems that faced settlers
in McLennan County, but, unlike many other localities, the tran-
sitional nature of the area provided a wide range of possible ma-
terials which might be utilized in fence construction. As a conse-
quence, there was considerable variation in the types of fences
erected, and scattered remnants of most of the forms that had been
developed in the East survive throughout the county.
In many of the New England states fences were built of dry-
stacked stones. This served the dual purposes of clearing off the
rocky farm land and providing an attractive and permanent fence.
In the early settlement of McLennan County a number of these
picturesque stone fences were similarly erected. One of the oldest
and best known is at the historic Eichelberger Island, on
the Bosque River. It was probably constructed before 186o by
William Eichelberger, a native of Pennsylvania, or by his son
Another type of fencing that was widely used throughout the
eastern and southern states utilized split wood rails. Straight
grained wood such as white oak, ash, hickory, or cedar was felled
and cut into ten-foot lengths, which were then split up into rail
sizes with wedge and maul. These rough rails were laid or stacked
in panels seven or eight high with the ends interlocking at an
angle of about sixty degrees. Thus each panel reached only seven
or eight feet. These were known as "snake" or "worm" fences.
Some builders chose to set up their rail fences perfectly straight
and tie the interlocking joints together by putting down posts or
vertical stakes on either side of the joint. This type was called a
"stake and rider" fence.a It is obvious that such rail fences offered
little or no real deterrent to the spirited horses and long-horned
cattle of early McLennan County. There are only a few interesting
remnants of the split rail construction remaining.
A third and equally picturesque method of fencing, which had
been used in the various prairie states for at least two decades,
came into popularity in the early 187o's. This was the planting
2Walter Prescott Webb and H. Bailey Carroll (eds.), The Handbook of Texas
(2 vols.; Austin, 1952), II, 121.
3Webb, The Great Plains, 280-281.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956, periodical, 1956; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101162/m1/234/: accessed August 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.