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Taylor County History 1922

Taylor County History Written in 1922

Taylor County was formed from portions of Bexar and Travis counties, February 1, 1858, and a change in boundaries was made in 1876. The county was formally organized July 3, 1878. Near the center of the county was the old town of Buffalo Gap, which was the first county seat. The county had received more than a proportionate share of settlers during the '70s, and over 1,000 inhabitants were enumerated by 1880. In 1881 the Texas & Pacific Railway was built across the north side of the county, and that gave stability to conditions which hitherto had depended upon the migratory enterprise of range stockmen.

A quite accurate summary of conditions and developments of the county is quoted from an issue of the "Taylor County Year Book :" "Cattle, horses, mules, sheep and goats up to about twenty-five years ago constituted the principal available wealth of the section. The conditions as to climate, rainfall, water, native grasses and forage plants were all especially favorable to the live stock industry. As late as 1875 large herds of buffalo ranged almost undisturbed over all of the section. and still later small herds found their way in. to be killed off quickly by hunters and the pioneer stockmen. They were in the section because they found here precisely what they needed. namely, abundant supplies of forage and water. Passing through the county as late as 1879, established ranches were to be found only at long intervals, and there were then in Taylor and Jones counties, for illustration, comparatively few settlers, and most of them in the main were engaged in stock raising, and had been attracted to the country by the abundance and luxuriance of the native grasses. A stockman who traveled through the entire section as late as the summer of 1876 says that the grasses everywhere were from one to three feet high, and that sometimes they were as high as a cow's back, not only in the bottoms, but also in spots on the dried upland. It was, indeed, an ideal stock country. There was plenty of stock water, and the man with the hoe had not yet put in his appearance to dispute with the stockman the right and title to the boundless meadows. Some sheep men even then were scattered here and there along the uplands, where there was a shorter and richer growth of herbage, but they were so few in number that they were tolerated by the cattlemen for the reason only that there was such a plethoric abundance of both grass and water. Few, if any, of the stockmen then owned or had in fact any exclusive right to a foot of the land occupied by them, but there was plenty for everyone and range rights there were determined by rules that were agreed upon by all, though there was no statute laws to bind anyone. Now there is no longer any open range in Taylor County and the farmer is distinctly "on top," and the one traveling from one neighborhood to another must travel through lanes, or along well defined public roads, between well improved farms on both sides. The natural conditions are quite as favorable for the livestock industry as they were in the former years mentioned, except that instead of large herds of cattle, horses and sheep roaming almost at will on free grass, now live stock are fenced in on the pasturages of the farmers and stock farmers who have purchased and now hold the land under title that the courts recognize as being good. It is the current opinion of those not informed on these subjects that in consequence of the changes noted there are not nearly so many live stock throughout this section of the state as there were in the former years, when on every hand they were to be seen on the open range. The fact is, however, as shown by the books of the several tax assessors and collectors throughout the section, that there are not only more live stock, but that they are superior in quality. In no other section of Texas are to be found cattle, horses, mules and sheep that class better, on the pastures and in the markets, than do those now in Taylor County, and every year the grade of each is improving.