Bosque County: Land and People (A History of Bosque County, Texas) Page: 11
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Steiner-Eubanks grant. Town lots were to be
sold at a public sale on July 4, 1854, and on
the appointed day several hundred people
gathered on the post oak-crowned hill east of
the Bosque. The real estate sale had been
advertised and pioneer settlers came on
horseback and by ox wagon, some from as far
as Gatesville and Waco. The entertainment
of the day featured a barbecue dinner and an
address by Nicholas W. Battle, Waco lawyer
and candidate for district attorney.
After the establishment of Meridian on
July 4, the first county election was held on
August 7, 1854. Three ballot boxes were
provided for the voters: one located at the
junction of Steel Creek and the Brazos River,
a second at the site of Meridian, and a third
in the Bosque River valley between present
Clifton and Valley Mills on lands later owned
by Tom M. Pool. Sam Barnes was appointed
election judge at the Steele Creek voting
place; Israel B. Standifer served in a similar
capacity at Meridian; J.K. Helton presided
over the ballots cast under the historic live
oak tree west of the Bosque River.
On the day of the election only twenty
citizens cast their vote. The primary sources
indicate that there were no qualified voters
at Meridian, five at the Steele Creek site, and
the remainder at the Bosque valley location.
As a result of the balloting, Lowery H.
Scrutchfield, who "not only had a fair
knowledge of law but was well informed on
surveying," was elected chief justice (county
judge); and other county officials included
Jaspar N. Mabray, county clerk, P. Bryant,
sheriff; Isaac Gary, tax assessor-collector;
Archabal Kell, treasurer; A.C. Pearce, district
clerk; J.K. Helton, justice of peace, and J.H.
Mabray, Sam Barnes, O. Dennis, and Israel
B. Standifer, county commissioners. The
chief justice and county commissioners com-
prised the "county board," the most impor-
tant agency of local government at the time.
In the fall of 1854 William McCurry built
a one-room log courthouse at Meridian; this
small structure, located on a site now occu-
pied by the first National Bank of Meridian,
housed the county government until the year
1860. The first term of county court, an
emergency session held under the trees,
authorized McCurry the sum of $125 for his
construction work. The first district court
was held at Meridian on June 9, 1856, with
R.E.B. Baylor on the bench and Nicholas W.
Battle as district attorney.
In the second election (1856), Lowery H.
Scrutchfield, Jaspar N. Mabray, and Israel B.
Standifer were reelected to their respective
offices. John Hanna, "as picturesque and
striking a figure as ever portrayed the part of
a fearless peace officer in any melodrama,"
was elected sheriff; John C. Scowe became
the new county treasurer; Milton Jacks,
Temple Spivey, and Marshall Ham were
chosen county commissioners. In 1858 sev-
eral changes occurred in the county adminis-
tration. William R. Sedberry succeeded
Lowery H. Scrutchfield as chief justice; A.C.
Pearce was elected sheriff; Robert O. White
became the new county clerk; J.B. Wood had
a majority for county treasurer; and William
B. Moore, Richard J. Hart, and Fielding
Lewis joined Milton Jacks as county commis-
By the year 1856 the population of Bosque
County had increased only slightly; a major-
ity of the settlers were located along the
Bosque River south of present Meridian. The
centers of population included Meridian,
Norman Hill, Flag Pond, Searsville or Rock
Church on Hog Creek, and Clifton (then
known as Cliff town). T.C. Alexander, writing
for the Texas Almanac in 1857, describes
Monument honoring early settlers of Bosque
County; erected in late 1920's near Election Oak.
Bosque County as a section featured by a
"hilly and rolling surface, healthful climate,
and fertile soil." Alexander listed the popula-
tion of the young county as 896; in addition
there were "121 Negroes valued at $62,000."
It is also significant that Galveston was listed
as the seaport and Houston and Galveston as
market centers for the Bosque territory.
A study of the ad valorem tax roll for
Bosque County in the year 1856 reveals some
173 taxpayers. These frontier heads of fami-
lies were lcoated, as a general rule, south of
Meridian in the Bosque Valley and near the
confluence of Steele Creek and the Brazos
River. It can be established without doubt
that the families of Green Powell, Sam
Barnes, Philip Howard, and John McKissick
resided on the west bank of the Brazos. The
fertile valleys of the Bosque River and Neils
and Gary creeks provided the setting for the
cabins of L.H. Scrutchfield; H.R. Pinnell;
Sarah, Matthew, Isaac, and Gaffey Gary; J.H.
Robertson; C.B. Underhill; S.S. and J.P.
Locker; Frank and Abraham Kell; Jaspar N.
Mabray; and the Norwegian pioneers. These
men and their neighbors set the stage for the
evolution of an agrarian society. By the year
1856, two short years after the founding of the
county, the Bosque residents had home-
steaded over 30,000 acres of land and sev-
enty-four town lots; in addition, they owned
1426 horses, 11,417 cattle, and 213 Negro
slaves. It is significant that because of the
importance of water and timber the early
Bosque frontier can be described as a
by Dr. William C. Pool
- . ,
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Bosque County History Book Committee. Bosque County: Land and People (A History of Bosque County, Texas), book, 1985; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth91038/m1/27/?q=campbell: accessed June 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Denton Public Library.