Heritage, Volume 6, Number 2, Summer 1988 Page: 28
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HATFIELDS & McCOYS, TEXAS
Most communities and counties sooner
or later find themselves in need of a jail.
Such was the case in Granbury. Two feuding
families, the Mitchells and the Truetts,
had carried grudges for several years. A
lawsuit over the settlement of a debt owed
to Cooney Mitchell led to the murder of
two of the Truett boys. Mitchell was implicated
as the instigator of the plans for the
killings. He was kept in the log jail on a
bluff overlooking the Brazos River from
1874 until he was hanged in a public ceremony
in 1876, the only person ever to be
officially hanged in Hood County. The
County Commissioners had been responsible
for guarding the jail night and day
until the hanging.
As a result of the arduous task of guarding
Mitchell, the County Commissioners
agreed to the construction of a new jail, as
long as it did not exceed $10,000. Because
the Mitchell hanging had been so grotesque,
the Commissioners directed the
new jail to have a hanging tower so the
"citizens of Hood County would never
have to witness another public hanging."
Construction of the new jail proceeded
at a snail's pace. Three unknown stone
masons quarried the stone, hauled it to the
construction site, and laid the load-bearing
rocks. Many of the huge stones bear the
stone mason's marks and the semicircular
impressions made when the stones were
split from the earth.
After the jail was accepted from the
contractor, the Commissioner's Court realized
something else was needed-a
kitchen! A separate stone structure was
constructed. After all the bills were tallied,
the total cost to the county was announced
to be $9,999.50. This was just 500 below
the limit advertised.
History does not record the names of the
three stone masons who built the jail.
However, we do know that after the construction
was completed, the three had a
rip-roaring celebration and one of them
became the first inmate in the new jail.
Today, visitors are invited to tour the
old jail which was used until just 10 years
ago. As the building was completed, the
State passed a law that hangings could no
longer take place in county jails. Therefore,
the gallows was never completed and
no one was hanged in the jail. However,
several suicides were committed in the
Even though the walls are 23 inches
thick, the mortar is very crumbly and prisoners
could literally use a plastic spoon to
dig the bars loose from the windows to
escape. In the 1960s the sheriff got tired of
the jail breaks and had the window glass
replaced with huge sheets of steel. The only
ventilation comes through one inch pipes
placed in the comers of the metal; there is
no heating or air conditioning in the cell
in the area. Property values, and with them
local tax revenues, have risen dramatically
on the square.
But townspeople in 1960 never
dreamed that Granbury would see such
remarkable redevelopment. People had
been talking for decades about damming
the Brazos River, but nobody took that talk
seriously. In 1966, however, the Brazos
River Authority started work on the de
Hood County Courthouse, the three-story rusticated limestone structure, patterned after the popular
French Second Empire style. Designed by architect W. C. Dodson, constructed in 1881 for $38,440.
HISTORIC TOWN SQUARE
In 1960, Granbury was a sleepy little
county seat at the edge of West Texas, its
cotton crops long dried up, its sons and
daughters gone away to college and jobs,
and its town square and fine old houses
falling into disrepair. The city was the
thing then, and the big highspeed freeways
had passed Granbury by completely.
Today Granbury's Town Square buzzes
with life. All the buildings are occupied or
under renovation, the tall courthouse has
been carefully restored, and the old Opera
House with its repertory company draws
overflow crowds almost every weekend.
Events such as the old-fashioned Fourth of
July attract visitors who often return to live
Cordova Bend Dam. The dam created
Lake Granbury, with its 103 mile shoreline,
ripe for recreation, second homes,
retirement homes, and condominiums. By
1976, there were 50 separate developments,
some more than 1,000 acres each,
housing half of Hood County's people.
And a nuclear power plant now being
constructed by Dallas Power and Light,
Texas Electric, and Texas Power and Light
Companies in southern Hood County is
also expected to intensify sprawl from
nearby Fort Worth and Dallas.
Reinforcing the recreational attractions,
the early 1970s saw a nationwide
reversal in the longstanding trend toward
urbanization, as rural areas and small towns
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 6, Number 2, Summer 1988, periodical, Summer 1988; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45434/m1/28/: accessed September 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.