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City of Hamilton

Hamilton Public Library

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.

1934 Canning Plant


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Early Train

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SN & ST Train, 1907 

Meisner Commercial Hotel

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Smith Harris Lumber Yard

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Jack's Self Service Grocery Store

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Hamilton Market Place

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Hamilton Market Place

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Haskell Harelik Dry Goods


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McKinley-Corrigan Grocery Store

Laying Water Mains, 1911

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South Side of Courthouse Square, before 1930

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Manning, Gordon, Henderson House
South Rice, Hamilton, TX 
Shared by Fred "Ric" Gordon 
and Nora Katherine (Henderson) (James) Teague



"HAMILTON, TX." The Handbook of Texas Online




People and Places: Gazetteer of Hamilton County, TX
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Copyright © March, 1998
by Elreeta Crain Weathers, B.A., M.Ed.,  
(also Mrs.,  Mom, and Ph. T.)

A Work In Progress