Young County History 1922
The conditions following the war are described in the Texas Almanac : "Fort Belknap has long been a place of rendezvous for surveying, exploring and scouting parties. This county was included in the Peters colony or Texas Emigration & Land Company, and in it a great portion of its best lands were located. Young County was settled some five years in advance of the surrounding counties, but during the war became nearly depopulated." In the publication of election returns in 1871 Young was mentioned in a list of counties "once organized but now abandoned on account of Indian raids. and not voting."
The progress of the county is indicated in its population statistics. In 1860. 592 inhabitants were enumerated. By 1870 the population was only 135. During the succeeding ten years came the influx of permanent settlers, and by 1880 the population was 4,726: in 1890. 5,049: in 1900. 6,540: in 1910. after the first railroad had penetrated the county, 13,657: in 1920. 13,113.
The closing phases in the career of old Fort Belknap are suggested in a brief newspaper item published in the spring of 1878: "Belknap, which once had fifteen business houses and a military post, now has three mercantile firms. The shattered walls of the old military buildings are monuments of its former activities." In the mean time, another pioneer era had been inaugurated. Edwin S. Graham, a Kentuckian; came to Young County and in 1871 bought the old salt works on Salt Creek, where the manufacture of salt had been conducted in a crude way for several years. Mr. Graham and his brother, G. A. Graham, installed improved machinery, brought the plant to a capacity of about 2,500 pounds of salt per day, and the product was marketed in sacks and hauled east and south by freighting trains, After the salt business proved unprofitable Mr. Graham invested heavily in Young County lands, and in 1872 laid out the town of Graham, about ten miles east of old Belknap. Due largely to the enterprise of its founder, the town grew, and when the county was re organized it was selected as the county seat. A traveler through Graham in the spring of 1876 speaks of the pasture lands all along his route from Jacksboro as being dotted with cattle and here and there deer, antelope and turkeys, indicating how far the country was from being closely settled. In February, 1877, a writer says, the buildings in town number over 100, while a year before there were only seven, and the industries were represented by a sawmill, flouring mill, cotton gin, salt works, etc. Graham was more fortunate than most frontier towns in respect to communication with the outside world, for, though no railroads reached there for many years, the military telegraph gave the citizens daily reports of current events and was a convenience much appreciated by the townspeople. Scarcity of lumber interfered with building in Graham and all other West Texas towns. The first stage in the history of these towns might be referred to as the "Picket-house" stage. Rough shelters were built from up right pickets, plastered over with clay or mud, seldom boasting of any thing better than a dirt floor. Then came brick and stone buildings. the abundance of stone making that material cheaper than lumber, which had to be transported from the Eastern Texas markets and which sold for almost fabulous prices. Thus the lumber for the school houses in Graham was brought in by ox teams and wagons from Fort Worth.