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Freestone County is a county located in the state of Texas. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 19,816. Its county seat is Fairfield. The county was created in 1850 and organized the next year.
the water in the region, which was free of minerals
County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts
The farming Kichai band of the Caddoan Mississippian culture dates as far back as 200 BCE in the area. The
Hernando de Soto expedition of 1541 resulted in violent encounters. Spanish and French missionaries brought smallpox, measles, malaria, and
influenza epidemics against which the Caddo had no immunity. Eventually, the Caddo were forced to reservations.
The Tawakoni branch of Wichita Indians originated north of Texas, but migrated south into east Texas. From 1843 onward, the Tawakoni were part of treaties made by both the Republic of Texas and the United States. Tawakoni were also sometimes known as Tehuacana.
In 1826, empresario David G. Burnet received a grant from the Coahuila y Tejas legislature to settle 300 families. By contracting how many families each grantee could settle, the government sought to have some control over colonization.
The threat of Indian hostilities kept most from homesteading in Freestone County until the Treaty of Bird's Fort.Within three years of the treaty, colonization, primarily from Southern states, had been so successful that the counties surrounding Freestone had already been organized. In 1850 the Texas legislature formed Freestone County from Limestone County. Freestone is a descriptive name referring to the quality of the soil. The county was organized in 1851. Fairfield became the county seat.
Handbook of Texas Online
Archeological evidence indicates that the area that is now Freestone County was inhabited from the late Holocene era to the arrival of the Spanish. In the historic period the area was inhabited by Caddoan Indians; in the 1830s these included the Kichais, who had a small settlement near what is now Butler, and the Tawakonis, who lived around Tehuacana Creek. Many other tribes also appear to have used the area for hunting and trading. While both the French and Spanish were familiar with the area, the French seem to have had more influence with these Indians, which limited the Spanish presence in the region. In the mid-1820s the Mexican government opened Texas to American colonization through the national colonization law of 1824 and through a law passed by the state of Coahuila and Texas in 1825, which opened uninhabited tracts to contractors and empresarios (see MEXICAN COLONIZATION LAWS). One of the first to secure a grant was David G. Burnet, whose land lay in the area that later became Freestone County. Under the terms of his grant, Burnet was authorized to settle 300 families in the area within six years. Little progress was made in executing the provisions of the contract, however, until after 1830, when Burnet joined with other empresarios to form the Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company. In 1833 at least seven Mexican citizens received eleven-league grants, and another twenty-four titles to land were granted between 1834 and 1835. It is unclear how many of these landholders actually took up residence in the area; according to one account, in 1835 the only white inhabitant was James Hall, a fur trader. After the establishment of the Republic of Texas in 1836, the land company's rights to land in the area were terminated, and all lands not previously assigned became part of the public domain. During the early years of the republic period the area that is now Freestone County was considered Indian land and therefore dangerous; very few whites ventured into it until the Indian Treaty of 1843 (see INDIAN RELATIONS). So many settlers moved into the region in the years immediately following the treaty, however, that by 1846 every county now bordering Freestone County had been organized. One of these, Limestone County, included the land that would later comprise Freestone County. By the 1840s the white population of the northeastern half of Limestone County had grown significantly. By 1846 a fairly large settlement, later called Troy, had been established along the west side of the Trinity River near Pine Bluff, and in 1848 a few isolated settlers appeared in the southern and central sections of what is now Freestone County. Sometime around 1847 the steamboat Roliance made its way up the Trinity River. Others soon followed, bringing supplies for the many settlers moving into the area. Often the heads of families arrived on prospecting missions, then returned home to bring their families back with them. Since the population of Limestone County was rapidly expanding, in 1850 the Texas legislature divided it to form Freestone County. By 1851 the county had been organized; the town of Mound Prairie, in the center of the county, was chosen to be the county seat, and its name was changed to Fairfield. Some other early towns were Cotton Gin, Avant Prairie, Butler, and Bonner Community. By 1860 the agricultural economy was rapidly developing toward the model provided by slaveholding areas to the east; of the county's total population of 6,881, more than half (3,613) were slaves. The United States agricultural census found 417 farms, encompassing 282,803 acres, in Freestone County that year. More than half of these farms were smaller than 100 acres in size (and only two were larger than 1,000 acres), but already a few extensive plantations had been established. Two local landholders owned more than 100 slaves each, and four owned 70 to 100 slaves; all told, there were fifty-seven slaveholders in the county who owned twenty slaves or more. Though corn was the county's most important crop at this time, cotton production was also becoming well established. Over 6,900 bales of cotton were ginned in 1860, and local farmers also produced 5,200 pounds of tobacco, along with other crops such as wheat, oats, and sweet potatoes. Ranching was also an important part of the economy; the agricultural census listed almost 19,300 cattle and 7,700 sheep in 1860. By the early 1860s the residents had also begun to found cultural institutions. A combination school and Masonic lodge was built in Fairfield in 1853, and at least two colleges were established before or during the Civil War, including Fairfield Female Academy, (chartered in 1860) and Woodland College for Boys (established in 1863). Thirteen churches, mostly Methodist and Baptist, had also been established by 1860. More at
John Leffler, "FREESTONE COUNTY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hcf09), accessed January 23, 2016. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 892 square miles (2,311 km2), of which, 877
square miles (2,273 km2) of it is land and 15 square miles (38 km2) of it (1.65%) is water.
Bordering counties are as follows: