Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser
When Dabney Lynch settled on Big Piney, in 1825, he found Josiah H. Burkhart's Mill on Big Piney; Richard Sullens, who had a mill four miles above the old mill; Thomas Cork's Mill, which was located four miles above Sullen's Mill, purchased by John Ormsby in 1828; Truesdale's Mill seven miles north of Houston, was purchased in 1828 by Washington Walton. A few members of the Sullens family were here, Reuben having a farm above the Burkhart Mill.
Baldridge's Mill was six miles below Truesdale's Mill, in Township 30, Range 9, about sixteen miles north of Houston, just west of Licking. This Baldridge was the first settler there, and early in the 1830's sold his farm to Ware.*
(* Evidently this is an error in location, since Township 32 is west of Licking, not Township 30. In fact, Licking is in Township 32, while Houston is in Township 30.)
In 1832-33, a gin mill was erected by Nesbitt on Big Piney, six miles below Houston. He sold to Richardson in 1834, who, in 1835, sold to David Lynch and John T. Fourt. This was sold to Oziah Upton, and it was ultimately washed away. A mill was built in more recent years by Albert Bates, which is now (1889) in existence ...
The Paola and Pinkashaw Indians had their two towns on Jack Fork, about six miles above Clear Springs Post-Office. (--State of Missouri, History of Texas County, Goodspeed Bros. Pub., 1889, pp. 430, 431.)
The pioneer, Duke, selected a home on Big Creek ten miles away from the river settlements. He was a hunter and trader, and drove a team of six elks which he domesticated. At times he would ride into the mill settlements mounted on a great elk and clad in a bear skin; but about 1848, when the tide of immigration set toward the county, he and his six elks set out for California, where he arrived. In 1845, when he drove up to David Lynch's house to attend court, his outfit, as S. M. Williams related, scared the horses of the settlers and scattered them. (--State of Missouri, History of Texas Co., p. 431.)
Texas County is located in the south central and slightly east section of the state, in the second tier of counties from the Arkansas line. The region was first settled by Boone, Paddy, Truesdale and others. It was defined as a county in an act approved February 17, 1843, and named Ashley County, for William Henry Ashley, fur trader who later became first lieutenant-governor of Missouri. (See Ashley Cave.) On February 14, 1845, an act was approved changing Ashley to Texas in honor of the Republic; later the State of Texas. Many men from the section emigrated to Texas, and many were members of Doniphan's force on his march to Texas. (See page III for the counties from which Texas was formed.)
Perhaps the fact that the county is the largest in the state, just as Texas is the largest state in the Union, had something to do with the choice. Texas is an Indian word used by the Hosinai tribes of Angelina and upper Niches Valley, Texas to mean Friend. It also means Ally. The word was extended by the Spaniards to include the tribes and finally the territory in which they lived. (--Place Names.)
The Boones and Paddies, trappers and hunters settled here in 1816. After a successful season, they would load their ponies and start for St. Louis, following the old Indian trail, there being no roads. They built the mill on Paddie's Spring, which was the first in this part of the state. The next settlers were the McDonald's and Burkharts, who settled on Robidoux (also spelled Roubidoux) Creek, and were followed by John Sherrill, Wm. Thornton, the Baldridge's and the Carters, with their families, who located at Buffalo Lick, now the town of Licking.
The first town settled was Ellsworth, on Piney River, in 1837. The county was organized February 14, 1845 and in 1846 Houston, the present county seat was laid out.
R. Y. Smiley, who built the first house and was the first merchant in the place, is still living in the county, on Elk Creek, (1774). (--Gazetteer of Missouri, Campbell, 1874, p. 619.)
The Pine Woods of Texas were known to the early travelers, and hunters of Spanish and French days; but not until 1816 did capital and enterprise come hither to develop them. In 1826, when Dabney Lynch settled on Big Piney, he found Josiah H. Burkhart's Mill on Big Piney. (--State of Missouri, History of Texas County, Goodspeed Bros. 1889, p. 430.)
Texas County was established under the Act of February 14, 1845. The county judges commissioned by the governor February 20, 1845, were James A. Gardner, Henry F. Ormsby, and David Lynch.
The petition of M. A. Staton and others, asking for the location of the county seat was granted, when William Walton, of Gasconade, John. Hight, of Wright, and Moses Bean, of Pulaski, were appointed to located the county town.
There followed several failures to select a county seat. Eventually, in June of 1846, (date not given), the name Houston was adopted for the county seat, and James R. Gardner appointed county seat commissioner. In September a new court house was authorized and in December, the Post-Master General was petitioned to extend mail facilities to Houston.
In March of 1857, the road from Elk Creek to Montreal (near Mountain Grove) was opened. (--State of Missouri, History of Texas Co., 1889, pp. 436, 437, 438, 439.)
John T. Lynch, in his reminiscences of 1841 says:
"When this was Gasconade County, the people here had to go to Pinkney, a small town on the Missouri River, eighty miles above St. Louis to court; when it was Pulaski County, they had to go to Waynesville to court; when it was Wright County, they had to go to Hartville, to court; and when Texas County was made, court was held on the old homestead where I first landed, in Section 7, Township 31, Range 9, on the banks of the Big Piney River."
In the history of Texas County, reference is made to the first representatives of Wright Co. In 1855, John F. McMahon represented Wright; Cyrus H. Frost, Texas; L. J. Morrow and M. Boyd, Greene County, and Lemuel Jones, Dallas.
Texas County has an area of 1,145 square miles of land, making a larger territory than St. Charles and St. Louis Counties combined -- the largest county by 145 square miles of any in the state.
The county was named for the State of Texas, while the county seat, Houston, was so styled to commemorate Sam Houston's acts at San Jacinto, the date of naming being June 1846. (--State of Missouri, History of Texas Co., pp. 476, 379, 380, 426.)