Somervell County Sketch 1895
Sketch of Somervell County Written in 1895. Created by act of the Legislature in 1875, this county was organized out of about 200 square miles of territory taken wholly from Hood. At that time N. A. deCornnick was the Glen Rose justice of the peace, and probably officiated as the presiding justice of the first police court for the new county.
At the first election under the new constitution, J. H. Chambers was elected county judge, J. H. Montgomery county and district court clerk, John J. McCowan sheriff, Phil Jackson assessor of taxes, Scott Milam treasurer, Wm. G. McCamant surveyor and J. S. Fairly, J. P. of the 1st precinct.
Prominent among the promoters of the new county were, besides the above named, Maj. T. C. Jordan, Judge J. J. Matthews, Rev. J. N. Chandler, David McCoy, the Martins, W. H. Barker, E. A. Gage. Wm. Porter, S. H. Brown, J. T. Parker, I. S. Mason, James West, with many others. Hon. A. J. Hart was then the representative in the Legislature, a resident of this territory, and may be presumed to have been in full sympathy with the movement, though as a fair representative man of the whole county of Hood, he took great care to ascertain that it met the approval generally of the people of the old county as well as the new. Maj. Jordan, whose expenditures upon the Barnard mill property were great, made liberal grants to the public building fund in order to insure Glen Rose the county site, already indeed a certainty, as no other spot had any prospect of securing this favor.
In 1893 the first courthouse suffered the fate of incendiary fire, so common to many of the courthouses of the State, and was replaced promptly by the present very handsome little building, which in its appearance and appointments does credit to the county.
Let us proceed to the notice of a few of the men who have figured in public life, or in sonic way contributed to the public good. J. J. Matthews, son of Dr. Mansil Matthews, accompanied his father to Texas in the same party led out from Tennessee by David Crockett in 1836. This party of Tennesseeans consisted of about 100 men, some of whom, like Dr. Matthews, had their families with them, and in their train was some forty or fifty wagons. After crossing the Mississippi at Memphis, Crockett. passing among the campers, bade each woman and child and the men left with them an affectionate farewell, mounted his noble bay charger, accoutered for battle, and waving his cap, halloed, "Hurrah for Texas," as he galloped away at the head of some sixty volunteers for the Texas army. Little did these spirited men then think that they were hastening to that sacrifice at the Alamo, so gloriously remembered at San Jacinto.
Judge Matthews, then an eight-year-old lad, was deeply impressed with the actions and bearing of this soldier leader. His own father, after settling his family in Red River county, hastened on and joined Gen'l Houston, was made army surgeon, and was with Houston, attending upon his wounds, when Santa Anna was brought in a captive. Dr. Matthews, subsequent to independence, represented Red River county in the 1st congress and in the constitutional convention. He also served as president of the board of laud commissioners of that county. Dr. M. Matthews was truly a Texan, since he had lived and served the public in some of the capacities for which his broad mind was adapted in almost every locality, having spent some of his time in our territory. He died at the age of 85 years, in Wise county. Judge Matthews had no doubt received as an heritage from his father many of the qualities which designated him among his fellows as a trusty counsellor [sic] in his after life. Before he was of age he served as deputy sheriff and subsequently held the office of justice of the peace in both Tarrant and Cook counties. He married in Grayson county a sister of Dr. Scott and Ben Milani, who, too, belonged to a noted family of early Texans. Matthews settled near Buchannan about 1861, and in 1863 removed to the west of the Brazos, where he has since remained. He succeeded Judge Chambers, the first county judge of Somervell county, and has been the incumbent of this most important office for six terms ; first, from 1878 to 1885, and again from 1888 to 1895-12 years of service, or more than half the period of its existence to the present time. He is a man of sound judgment, equanimity of temper and deep sympathies, and has been, perhaps, the most popular man of Somervell county.