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Water tower by the Kwianis Park.

Water tower by the Kwianis Park.

I know the sky has a red tint to it but  it does looks like a sandstorm is blowing in. Actually it was a nice day. I’ve been having trouble with the network today so this is going to be a short post.

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HAMILTON, the county seat of Hamilton County, is the oldest town in the county. The legislation which created Hamilton County

also specified that the site of the countyseat must be located near the center of the county. The Legislature named the county for General James Hamilton, a former governor of South Carolina. Gen. James Hamilton died before the county was created.

Hamilton County, located in Central Texas, is actually the second county named Hamilton in Texas; however, it is the only Hamilton County to be organized as such. Both counties were named to honor Gen. James Hamilton for his participation in the financial support of the Republic of Texas. The first Hamilton County was created 2 February, 1842, by the Sixth Congress of the Republic of Texas. The Sixth Congress passed an act to divide Montgomery and Houston Counties in southeast Texas so that two additional counties would be created for “judicial and other purposes.”   “It included the north half of what is now Walker County, the east portion of Madison County, and parts of Houston, Trinity, and Polk counties; Cincinnati was made the county seat. Hamilton County was abolished by the Spring Session of the Texas Supreme Court in the Stockton v. Montgomery decision which declared judicial counties created by the Texas Congress were unconstitutional.”- -Oran Jo Pool, Nov. 19, 1954

Sixteen years later, on January 22, 1858, what is now Hamilton County was sliced from Comanche, Bosque, and Lampasas Counties by the Legislature of the State of Texas. The county was organized August 2, 1858, and the county seat of Hamilton was soon surveyed. Only one family, the Ezekiel “Zeke” Manning family, lived at the site selected for the town of Hamilton. Mrs. Manning was the first white woman ever to spend a night in Hamilton. The Mannings from Perry County, MO, had arrived in 1855 in an ox cart and initially camped at the site now occupied by St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. Mr. Manning built a “tavern” on the southwest corner of the square (now the at the intersection of HWY 281 and HWY 36. The square had not been laid off, and there was a big chaparral thicket where the courthouse now stands. Mr. Manning helped organize the county of which he was the first sheriff being appointed by Governor Sam Houston. Also appointed were

  • Chief Justice (County Judge)–James Monroe Rice
  • County Commissioner–Henry C. Standefer, and
  • County Clerk–Isaac Skelton Standefer.

The first elected county officials on 2 August, 1858, were:

  • Chief Justice (County Judge)–James Monroe Rice
  • Sheriff–Ezekiel Manning
  • County Treasurer–Jesse J. Griffith
  • Assessor and Collector–R. B. Griffith
  • County Clerk–Isaac Skelton Standefer.
  • County Commissioners–Henry C. Standefer and Noah Crisco

Isaac Standefer issued the first marriage license in Hamilton County to Joel Baggett and Emily J. Ferrell.

Most of the inhabitants of the new county lived on the Leon River near what is now known as the Evergreen community and they wanted the county seat to be located at the site of the future Rock House near the Leon River. Fear of losing Priddy, Center City, and the western part of the county contributed to the acceptance of a more centrally located site. In creating Hamilton County, the Texas Legislature had stipulated that both the county and the county seat would be named Hamilton, and that the town of Hamilton would be within five miles of the geographic center of the county.  Many of these people lived near Pulltight, which was also called Old Hamilton.

M. McIlhaney offered sixty acres of land “beginning at a point where the Burch hotel now stands and extending to the F. C. Williams home, and from the Presbyterian Church street [College Street–across the street from and south of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church] to where the railroad tract now runs on the east [Railroad Street.] This was the edge of the timberland, and the beginning of the prairie.”

Severe droughts in 1856 and in 1858 increased the hardships and dangers faced by the first brave souls who ventured into the soon-to-be Hamilton County. In 1877 frosts occurred every month with the exception of July and August.  The frost on 10 June, 1877, killed all of the corn crops.  There was no rain in Hamilton County in 1886, and none in 1887 until August. The years of 1917,  1918, and 1950 also brought a drought to Hamilton County. The drought of the 1950’s was broken with the flood in Hamilton on May, 1957.

By 1871 residents on the Leon River were pressing for the county seat to be moved to the Leon River. On 31 January, 1871, a petition was sent to the state legislature on behalf of both the county and the town of Hamilton to leave the county seat where it was. If the county seat were moved, it would have been ten miles from the center of the county instead of four miles north of the county’s midpoint.

Also in 1871–July 17, that the first District Court was organized in Hamilton County. J. P. Ousterhout, was the first Judge of the 34th Judicial District. James B. Boyd was district attorney; Isaac Hollingsworth Steen was district clerk, and Capt. Frederick Browder Gentry was foreman of the grand jury.

Dangers from Indian attacks prevailed through the 1870’s.

In 1881 the residents of Hamilton County learned that the State Legislature was considering forming a new county from the counties of Hamilton, Lampasas, Comanche, and Brown. Both the Commissioners Court and the citizens of the county sent petitions opposing the loss of any Hamilton County land to a new county. Despite the protests Mills County was organized 15 March, 1887, from the above named counties. Before Mills County was formed, the citizens of the southern portion of Hamilton County had become disgruntled with being so far from the countyseat. After the courthouse burned 2 February, 1886, these citizens petitioned for an election to consider relocating the county seat to “Pegtown,” a proposed town eight miles south of Hamilton near Shive. To preserve Hamilton as the countyseat of Hamilton County, the Commissioners Court negotiated with the residents along the southern border of the county to move the Hamilton County line north seven miles from Sims Creek south of Center City to McGirk.

Following the flood in Hamilton in May, 1957, a series of reservoirs were built around Hamilton to control future flood situations. — ECW

More About Hamilton:

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Ok, I couldn’t resist the pun with the title.  Several old bridges from the county have been moved to Pecan Creek Park awaiting refurbishment. — DEH

Bulman Bridge

Bulman Bridge

The Bulman Bridge was located on the north side of the Leon River ten miles east of Hamilton near Rock House in the community named at various times Pulltight, Busyton, Snow Creek, Old Hamilton, and Rock Church. Rev. Henry Jefferson Bulman came to Hamilton County in 1871 where he bought a farm on the Leon River twelve miles east of Hamilton. The Bulman Bridge was named in his honor. The Bulman and other old bridges have been relocated to the Pecan Creek Park in Hamilton. — ECW

Looking up from underneath the bridge.

Looking up from underneath the bridge.

Can you see me?

Can you see me?

bridge21

Looking down 2 of the bridges.

Looking down 2 of the bridges.

bridge1

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Note: Today’s entry is includes lots of photos.

On 14 November, 1987, Pecan Creek Park was dedicated. A seven-year project of the Woman’s Council, Pecan Creek Park extends for 10 blocks –12 acres– along Pecan Creek. The park included trails, six clear span arch bridges, three cameo recreational areas, multi-purpose pavilions, playground equipment, and picnic areas. Included in the project were Schadler Meadow–featuring playground equipment, picnic areas, and restrooms, north of the municipal swimming pool; Park Plaza–pavilion, specially-designed lighting for night-time use, south of park headquarters; and Schrank Park–pavilion, restrooms, hillside slide, swings, and picnic area. — ECW

Recently, the newest addition to Pecan Creek Park was built.  The park facilities run along Pecan Creek as it meanders through Hamilton. It is a project that has taken several years to complete and is a work in progress. — DH

pecancreeksign

New entry to Pecan Creek Park.

Pecan tree near entry of park.

Looking out the front entry of the park.

New playground.

New playground.

Baseball/Softball fields.

Baseball/Softball fields.

The new park even includes a skate park.

The new park even includes a skate park.

One of several old bridges in the park waiting to be restored or used somehow.

One of several old bridges in the park waiting to be restored or used somehow.

Pecan Creek Headquarters Building.

Pecan Creek Headquarters Building.

sign1

The park headquarters was located in the oldest commercial building in Hamilton, a restored stone building which originally was a grist mill on Pecan Creek. For many years this building was used as an office and warehouse by Robert Bernard “R. B.” Miller,Sr. Distributor of Gulf Oil Products and Firestone Tires and Batteries. — ECW

Be sure to visit the That’s My World! blog.

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The Texan Theater has been a Hamilton landmark since the 1920’s. According to records I can find it first opened around 1928. It appears to have burned sometime around 1949.  The Texan is still the only theater in Hamilton. By the late 1970’s and 1980’s the theater had become very run down. It closed for a period of time in the 1990’s. Currently the theater is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Texan Theater sign. Those power lines really made it hard to get a good sky shot.

Texan Theater sign. Those power lines really made it hard to get a good sky shot.

Moved in closer for this one. Looking up at an angle

Moved in closer for this one. Looking up at an angle

According to the current owners this is the original popcorn machine. It still works.

According to the current owners this is the original popcorn machine. It still works.

The balcony is in the process of being restored.

The balcony is in the process of being restored.

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One my favorite places to eat in Hamilton is the Dutchman’s Hidden Valley.

Hidden Valley began as a roadside produce stand owned by local rancher Johnny Harris.  He sold pecans, peaches and other seasonal fruit. Eventually, he built a shed and continued to add to the building.

In the 1980’s Harris sold Hidden Valley to Ron Wenzel, who had a German deli, The Ductman on the other side of Hamilton. The Dutchman’s Hidden Valley features homemade candies and peanut butter, smoked meat. One of the more unique offerings is bison.  Currently, the store is now owned and operated by Wenzel’s daughter and her husband.

Dutchman's Hidden Valley

Dutchman's Hidden Valley

dhvbuffalohiddenvalley

Be sure to visit the That’s My World! blog.

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Today, I taken some pictures around Hamilton County for other features when I discovered these X’s hiding in the pictures. — Dee

Bullman Bridge

Bulman Bridge

The Bulman Bridge was located on the north side of the Leon River ten miles east of Hamilton near Rock House in the community named at various times Pulltight, Busyton, Snow Creek, Old Hamilton, and Rock Church. Rev. Henry Jefferson Bulman came to Hamilton County in 1871 where he bought a farm on the Leon River twelve miles east of Hamilton. The Bulman Bridge was named in his honor. The Bulman and other old bridges have been relocated to the Pecan Creek Park in Hamilton. — ECW

Taken at the Dutchman's Hidden Valley

Taken at the Dutchman's Hidden Valley.

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