Author’s note: Thanks to Melinda Jo Ray for providing permission to use the research materials in her coffee table book titled, Limestone Legacies, A Collection of Articles on Granbury and Hood County History.
How did the end of the Civil War impact Texans and those in our local communities?
Of course, those at home were relieved beyond words and thankful if their loved ones returned from the fighting. Their entire lives had been turned upside down because of the war. It would take much to right it for both the veterans and their families. Every family was impacted in one way or another by the war. Many families felt the burning sting of the loss of a son, brother or father for the rest of their lives.
How many lives were lost to the war?
It has been estimated that at least 620,000 Americans died, including those from both sides, because of the Civil War. About half the deaths occurred on the battlefield and the other half to disease and festering wounds.
How long did the war last?
Four long years. It started with the attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 and ended with General Lee’s surrender on April 9, 1865.
What did the veterans find when they returned home to Texas?
Although Texans escaped the physical destruction of homes, businesses and crops that many southern citizens from other states suffered, they still had to deal with shortages of needed supplies, or total outages in some cases. Most farmers lived on what they could produce. Some farms and ranches had been abandoned due to the increased Indian raids during the war. A system of sharecropping after the war left many in dire poverty throughout the south, resulting in increased immigration to the western states including Texas to start over. Many Texans had to start over as well.
How was Hood County and the town of Granbury created?
They were created by the final act of the Eleventh Texas State Legislature. That legislative session was the last to be conducted by supporters of the Confederacy. Conducting Texas State’s business during the legislative session in the spring and summer of 1866 was chaotic to say the least after the war’s end. The federal government had been in turmoil for months after the assassination of President Lincoln. There had been little formal plans made regarding an orderly process to allow rebel states to be readmitted back into the union. The new restrictive rules being issued by Washington to state lawmakers weren’t received very well in Austin.
How did Texas representatives respond?
The lawmakers made their distaste known by submitting a series of bills that were openly in defiance of the new rules coming from Washington. They were figuratively “poking the feds in the eye” with their defiant bills. Representative William Shannon from Johnson County submitted a bill to the Eleventh Legislature to create a new county from the western portion of Johnson County. The bill stipulated that a new county and its county seat would be named after Confederate Generals John B. Hood and General Hiram B. Granbury.
Did the bill pass easily through Congress?
Absolutely not! Governor James Throckmorton was horrified. He had been fighting to prevent a Federal Declaration of Martial Law and takeover of the Texas government. He vetoed the bill and sent it back to the committee with instructions to change the names. They refused to do so. Twice more the bill was submitted and passed by the house, again to be rejected by the governor. But the last time it was submitted, it had enough votes – by one vote – to override the governor’s veto. The bill finally passed! This bill to create and name Hood County and the town of Granbury, its county seat, was the final bill passed by the Eleventh Session of the Texas Congress. Three months later, in early 1867, federal troops marched into Austin establishing martial law and all government offices were declared vacant.
Stay tuned. The next blog entry of Granbury, Texas History in Bits and Pieces will cover how Hood County and Granbury developed its leadership and government in its fledgling community under reconstruction rules after the Civil War.