Thanks again go out to Melinda Ray for her permission to use information from her very informative and well-researched book, “Limestone Legacies, A Collection of Articles on Granbury and Hood County History.”
With Hood County founded by Texas’ Eleventh Legislature in 1866 and its boundary defined, the next step was to establish county leadership and select the county seat location.
Who was the person selected to organize Hood County leadership?
A respected community elder, Abel Landers of the Stockton Bend community was a known moderate in politics with extensive previous town planning and political leadership experience in Missouri. He was appointed County Judge by the reconstruction government in Austin and given the authority to hold local elections.
Who was eligible to hold county office?
Post-war reconstruction rules for qualifications to serve in county offices were still up in the air in Austin. Eventually, rules were made that men who had served as officers for the Confederacy were not eligible to hold government office during the reconstruction period. The “carpetbaggers” in Austin had final approval rights to the selection of officers at all levels of government.
Did Abel Landers hold an election to select Hood County leaders?
No. Since rules were not yet totally defined as to how to fill government offices at the time, he held meetings in Acton, Thorp Springs, and Glen Rose Mills with well-respected community leaders. He recommended that the older generation of non-combatants during the war should fill those positions as the first county government leaders and allow the younger men to continue rebuilding their lives that were so disrupted during the war. County leadership was selected from a consensus of those far-flung meetings.
Consider the difficulty organizing those meetings and traveling on horseback through prairies, woods and thickets, and across rivers and creeks to distant areas of the county to gather these men for their meetings. There were no real roads or bridges at that time. Consider also, issues with the Indians raiding the outlying farms and ranches were still unresolved after increasing in frequency during the war.
Who were selected to be the first Hood County leaders?
The commissioners for the first Police Court (county commissioners) from various locations in the county were C.C. Alexander, Wilson Barker, John Meeks and Joe Robinson. The first treasurer was Peter Garland. Gideon Mills was the first tax assessor. John Morris was the first clerk for the district court. The first selections for county clerk and sheriff were rejected by the state reconstruction government because of their service during the war. Jessie F. Nutt as county clerk and John Hightower as sheriff were ultimately chosen for those positions.
Each of the above-mentioned men was a gentleman of the highest character and all were well-respected leaders in their community.
The first meeting of the Hood County Police Court was held in January 1867 at Abel Landers’ cabin in Stockton Bend. Thirty or so observers gathered to watch and mark the occasion.
What was one of the first orders of business for the new county government?
The location of the county seat was to be selected. The county seat had been named Granbury by the eleventh state legislature, but no location had been defined. As one can imagine, each district representative wanted his district to be the county seat. Normally, the geographic center of the county would be its government center. The geographic center of the new Hood County was at Comanche Peak. It was an unacceptable choice because of the lack of water availability. Glen Rose Mills was too far south from the greater population of the county. Acton was across the Brazos River and a good distance from the other communities. The community of Thorp Springs was already established and centered around one religious group. After several contentious debates and elections, a wooded site with a spring-fed creek flowing into the river was selected three miles south of the Stockton Bend community on a bluff overlooking the Brazos River. The forty-acre townsite for Granbury was donated by Tommy Lambert and the Nutt Brothers; Jessie and Jacob, to be the new Hood County seat location.
How did downtown Granbury become “The Square?”
Judge Landers’ previous town planning experience included the layout and design of three other county seat towns in Missouri in a plan that had become known as “The Shelbyville Model.” It was a central town square with the courthouse in the center and a block of retail and service businesses facing inward, around the courthouse. The town square was surrounded by blocks of residences, parks, churches, and schools. This popular town model was duplicated throughout America as the nation grew. While Judge Landers and the commission worked on ordinances governing the layout plan and the plan itself, workmen got busy clearing the thick growth of native trees and brush in the future townsite.
Soon lots were being sold and construction started on buildings around the square. Timbers from clearing the town square were used for those buildings. The first building to be completed in downtown Granbury was the Nutt brother’s grocery and mercantile store at the northwest corner of Bridge and Crockett Streets. Those first simple wood business and service structures including the courthouse and jail would later be replaced with elegant and durable cut limestone and brick buildings.
The next volume of “Granbury History in Bits and Pieces” will include the development of the leadership of the town of Granbury and the key drivers of progress in the new town.