Yorktown Bicentennial Chapter

Yorktown, DeWitt County, Texas
Organized:  1981

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DeWitt County, Texas

written by our member,

Mrs. Rosemary Blackwell Sheppard

In 1996, DeWitt County reached its 150th year. The county was named for the colonizer, Green DeWitt, and comprised of portions of the counties of Gonzales, Victoria and Goliad. Many of the early settlers had come from the Southern states and the late 1840's brought European settlers. These people had lost friends and loved ones at the Alamo, fought in the battles of Bexar, Goliad, Gonzales and San Jacinto. Some of the men took part in engagements against Indians and remnants of the Mexican army in the Somerville Expedition, Santa Fe Expedition, Mier Expedition, Battle of Salado, Council House Fight, Sacking of Linnville, and the Battle of Plum Creek.
March 24, 1846 was the date of the first DeWitt County organizational meeting. Meetings would continue to be held to select a site for a county seat, elect county officials, and attend to county business in 1846. The first meeting was held at Daniel Boone Friar's store, located at the junction of the LaGrange-LaBahia and Victoria and Gonzales Roads (to us in an area near US Hwy 183 and US 77A junction).
At least three men were anxious to secure the county seat on their property. The new state of Texas had rules locating the county seats. One declared that the seat must be in the geographical center of each county or within a five mile radius of the county center.
Captain D.B. Friar hoped his combination home, store, and post office area would be selected as the county seat. The surveyors discovered Friar's store to lie seven miles from the county's geographical center.
Richard H. Chisholm, a ferry boat owner on the Guadalupe River, donated 640 acres for consideration as a county seat location. He was eager for a town to grow on the west bank of the Guadalupe near his ferry operation, a town he called Clinton.
To settle the matter, a committee was chosen by the Texas Legislature, consisting of John Troy, William Blair, Daniel Boone Friar, and James McCulloch Baker, to select a county seat site. On June 23, 1846, these men announced the county seat to be located on the east bank of the Guadalupe River, nearly opposite Sandie's Creek (approximately three miles north west of present day Cuero). The site was located on the John J. Tumlinson Survey on land donated by Joseph Tumlinson. The name selected for the new county seat was to be Cameron, commemorating the life and death of Captain Ewen Cameron, the ill-fated leader of the Mier Expedition and one of the victims of the famous Black Bean drawiing by his Mexican captors. It was also agreed that the election of county officers would take place July 13, 1846.
The meeting was held and the officers took oath of offices on July 27, 1846, at D. B. Friar's home, a temporary meeting place.
The voters selected:  Probate Judge - James McCulloch Baker, who as Chief Justice of Gonzales County, swore in the other officials:  County Judge - John Troy; County Clerk - James Norman Smith; District Clerk - Joseph L. Baker; Sheriff - W. P. Patterson; Commissioners - V. V. Poinsett, John York, Crockett C. Cardwell and Kimber Barton; Justice of the Peace - Jonathan Scott and Miles Squire Bennet.
The judge and court soon appointed Arthur Burns, Rufus Taylor, Samual Donald and John McCrabb to lay off and mark a road leading from Chisholm Ferry on the Guadalupe to intersect the Gonzales and Victoria Road at Patrick Dowlearn in the nearest, best and most practical way.
Court business was conducted at the Friar store until moved to the one room log court house at  Cameron. The settlement consisted of James N Smith's house and several other houses.  When court was in session the officials camped out to be present for meetings. Cameron never proved suitable as a site for the county seat and the court moved to Clinton. After arrival of the railroad and founding of Cuero in 1873, the county seat made its permanent move to Cuero in 1876.
The two story wooden courthouse at Clinton was moved and rebuilt on the site of the present courthouse. This building burned in the early morning of April 8, 1894.
Our present sandstone and granite courthouse, completed and accepted by the court in late 1896, has served DeWitt County well for 100 years.
This frontier land our county began 150 years ago has seen many changes. We are grateful to all who came, stayed, and added through the years to our county.
*The word CUERO means leather in Spanish.

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Latest update: 10 April 2017