Breckenridge, the county seat of Stephens County, is at the intersection of U.S. highways 180 and 183, four miles east of Hubbard Creek Reservoir in west central Stephens County.
Breckenridge originated about 1854 as Picketville, named either for the post and clay structure of the early homes or for early rancher Bill Picket. When the county was organized in 1876, the town was made county seat and renamed Breckenridge after John C. Breckinridge, United States senator from Kentucky and vice president, although the spelling of the name was altered. That year the first courthouse was built, and a post office was opened. The Northwest Texian, the town's first newspaper, began publication in 1877. Among early publishers were B. B. Greenwood and E. W. Davenport. Davenport later started the Democrat, a weekly which survived until 1924. In the early 1880s a two-story school building was erected, and the upper floor, referred to as the "Opera House," was used for church services. By 1884 Breckenridge had an estimated 500 inhabitants, Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches, a district school, a bank, and five general stores. The population reached 531 in 1900, a new school building was erected in 1906, and by 1914 Episcopalian and Christian churches had joined the others. Read More Breckenridge History from the Handbook of Texas Online >>
The growth of Breckenridge within one year from a village of 800 or 900 population to a bustling city of 20,000 is a typical instance of the wonderful changes due to oil discovery and exploitation, changes so rapid and momentous and occurring in so many different places, almost at the same time, that it taxes the historian's ability to keep pace with them. The little village was enjoying a slow and gradual growth, depending upon the surrounding live stock and agricultural industries, but handicapped by the lack of a railroad, when the discovery of oil in West Texas, with Stephens County in the center of the oil belt, gave Breckenridge an impetus that has since carried it along by leaps and bounds. Pioneers of oil development early saw that Breckenridge would become a center of new and important interests, and, armed with abundant capital, they made the town their headquarters. Having located, they saw opportunities for town development, and thus the ranks of the progressive citizenship of Breckenridge received valuable additions. The railroad has since come, but the early arrivals did not wait for it, they were whirled from the nearest railroad stations by motor cars, they traveled in wagons, they brought supplies and materials in great trucks and they took possession of Breckenridge before the railroad was more than a remote possibility. Continue Reading Breckenridge History Written in 1922 >>