Bosque County: Land and People (A History of Bosque County, Texas) Page: 51
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of land, situated in Milam County on the
main prong of the Bosque River, about 1/2
mile below the mouth of Duffau Creek, by
virtue of a certificate issued to the legal
representatives of James McCullough, by
decree of the District Court of Robertson
County, at the fall term of 1844.
On June 6, 1867 Ward Keeler purchased
John Harvey's share of land for $30.00 which
Harvey and J.N. Mabray had obtained by
Sheriff's Deed, September 4, 1866 for $31.00.
This sale- resulted from a judgment in
Limestone County against W.Y. McFarland
rendered April 6, 1863 and consisted of 1042
acres of land, more or less, it being a portion
of the original 17 2/3 labors survey of James
Ward Keeler was a native of New York and
an early surveyor of Bosque County. His
name appears as Ward Keeler, C.S.B.C. on
the division of land by the Spring Term of
District Court of Limestone County in 1863
between the McCullough heirs and McFar-
Following the purchase of this land, Mr.
Keeler erected a log cabin, thought to be the
first residence on the present site of Iredell.
His son, Ira, was probably born here, the first
person born in what was to be Iredell.
The town of Iredell was founded by Ward
Keeler in 1870 on a 50 acre tract of the James
McCullough survey bordering the south side
of the Bosque River. He named the town after
his son, Ira, and attached the "dell" because
the new town lay in a valley.
The Iredell post office was established
December 21, 1870 by Ward Keeler's second
son, William Gordon Keeler, the first post-
master. (Contrary to local legend, the appli-
cation for the post office by Mr. Keeler shows
the spelling to be Iredell. Legend has it that
the spelling was Iradell and Mr. Loader, the
second postmaster, misspelled it Iredelle and
The application also shows that the new
post office was on the route #8589, contract-
ed by C.C. Painter, from Meridian to Ste-
phenville, over which mail was carried once
a week. To serve Iredell, the route was
shortened by four miles, indicating the
discontinuance of the post office at Flag
Pond. The nearest post office was Duffau, ten
miles northwest and the nearest office on the
other side was Meridian, fifteen miles south-
east. The office was on the south side of the
Bosque River, and there were seventy-five
residents in Iredell and sixty families within
two miles. It is thought the Keelers built a
mill on the crossing of the Bosque (from
which came Mill Street) and probably the
location of the first post office.
The first lot, Lot #1, Block 1, sold Febru-
ary 13, 1871. It sold for $25 for a quarter acre
to William H. McLain, a blacksmith, known
for his love of liquor. Since Keeler was an
ardent temperance man (and in fact head of
the Temperance Movement in Texas), he
inserted a clause in the deed that if McLain
ever sold liquor on the premises, the land
reverted to the Keeler estate. The street
bordering this lot on the south, paralleling
the river, is named McLain Street. Indica-
tions are that McLain lived on this street,
hence it was known as McLain's Road or
Street after the town was founded. Mill
Street bordered it on the east.
Joining Lot #1 on the north, Lot #2 Block
1 of the new town was sold to Thomas T.
Loader and on it he and Andrew Downing
established the first store in the new town-
site. Mr. Loader was appointed postmaster in
1872, and the post office was located in his
store. He was born and reared in England and
his wife was a cousin and lady-in-waiting to
Queen Victoria. Because it was unheard of
that he, a commoner, should marry royalty,
the young lovers eloped, with the help of
friends, to the United States and Iredell.
Ward Keeler died in 1871, when Iredell was
just nine months old. He was buried near the
present Riverside Cemetery. Later his son,
Charles Lewis Keeler, and his wife, the
former Barbara Ann Kimbrough, born in
1844 in Mississippi, were buried beside him.
The First Baptist Church asked for and
received permission from the family in 1959
to extend their educational complex over the
graves. They erected a small plaque on the
annex in the Keelers' memory.
The first fraternal organization of Iredell
was the "Ward Keeler Temple of Honor" No.
3 chartered on September 22, 1871 just nine
days after the death of Ward Keeler.
On February 13, 1874, in Bosque County
District Court, a suit was brought by X.B.
Sanders, Administrator of the Estate of
Wilson Y. McFarland, deceased, who came as
plaintiff and also came the defendants,
Thomas Loader, in his own right and as
Administrator of the Estate of Ward Keeler,
deceased, and the other defendants, A.
Downing, W.H. McLain, S.J. Siddall, W.H.
Russell, A.M. Trimble, Jeff Meadows and
wife, Martha Meadows, and William Ward
Keeler, with D.W. Sneed appointed Special
Guardian for Ward Keeler's minor children,
David Keeler, Carrie Ira B. Keeler, George
Keeler, and Minnie Keeler. The jury found
for the plaintiff all the land described except
for the 50 acre square which went to the
estate of Ward Keeler which included the
town of Iredell exclusive of the lots claimed
by A. Downing, W.H. McLain, S.J. Siddall,
W.H. Russell, A.M. Trimble and Thomas T.
Loader. The plaintiff had one year and one
day to pay each defendant for the assessed
value of their improvements and if they were
not paid, the defendants had six months to
pay the assessed value of their land and they
would have title to the land. They also had
to pay the court costs.
After filing in 1873 in Bell County court for
permission to sell part of the McFarland
estate because of indebtedness and receiving
permission in January 1874, X.B. Sanders
asked to be discharged as administrator and
F.H. Austin was named his successor in 1875.
In 1876, land was sold by the estate and titles
began to be cleared.
The Hester cabin about two and one-half
miles east of where Iredell was to be located
was the site of the first school, post office, and
the first meeting place of the Baptists and the
Methodists in this area. Rev. G.W. Roberts
formed the Bosque Baptist Church there in
1868 and Rev. Peter W. Gravis organized the
Methodist church there about a year later.
After Iredell was founded, Rev. S.B. Jones
organized a church in the Keeler house.
Another Methodist minister, Rev. Elisha
Trimble, established a church and school on
five acres of land given by Dr. J.S. Wills, this
was called Wills Chapel and was located
about one-half mile east of Iredell on what is
known as Terrell Springs and later as Hurt
Park. "Father" Trimble was instrumental in
the building of a combination school, church
and lodge in Iredell by 1873 west of the mill
First Iredell school and Masonic Hall
Iredell School-demolished 1937
Birdseye view of Iredell-circa 1890
Bosque Bridge, Iredell
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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/m1/67/?q=campbell: accessed June 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Denton Public Library.