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DECATUR, TEXAS

"Eighter from Decatur, County Seat of Wise"
- gambling epithet

Wise County Seat, North Central Texas
Highways 287 and 380
27 miles SE of Bowie
27 miles W of Denton
40 miles NW of Fort Worth
Population: 6,162 (2010) 5,201 (2000) 4,245 (1990)

Book Hotel Here > Decatur Hotels

Courthouse tower and Coca Cola sign Wise County Courthouse Tower and the Coca-Cola sign
TE Photo, 2004
History in a Pecan Shell

Wise County was established in 1856 and named after Virginian Henry A. Wise who supported Texas annexation.

The town was originally called Taylorsville after The Mexican War Hero Gen. Zachary Taylor, but was changed in 1858 to honor Stephen Decatur, Revolutionary War naval hero. The town was platted by early settler Absalom Bishop who became a member of the Texas Legislature.

A post office was opened in 1857 and the first school was opened that same year. Decatur was a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail.

During the Civil War, 5 members of the Unionist Peace party were tried and executed in Decatur in 1862.

The last Indian raids occurred around 1874 and by 1882 the Fort Worth and Denver Railway laid tracks to town. The population tripled from 579 in 1880 to 1,746 in 1890.

Decatur's population high-water mark was in 1928 when 3,200 lived there, but commuters from Fort Worth have recently boosted the growth to where it now stands at over 6,000.
Wise County Courhtouse Wise County Courthouse
Photo courtesy Sam Fenstermacher, 2004

Decatur Landmarks/Attractions:

  • Wise County Courthouse
    The first county courthouse was erected in 1858 and three more followed in 1861, 1883 and 1896... more
  • Wise County Jail - The historic Old Stone Prison
  • The Texas Tourist Camp & Petrified Wood Gas Station
    ("Rooms with a Past" series) - Text & photos by Robin Jett
  • Decatur Hotels
  • Decatur water tower and masonic building
    Decatur Masonic Building and Water Tower

    On the northwest corner of the square. This is one of two water towers that're set behind the Masonic Building. - SF

    Photo courtesy Sam Fenstermacher, 2004

    Growing up in Decatur in the 1930s

    Excerpts from "I Was a Teen in the 1930s and Some More Stuff" by Harold Bell
  • Miss Bell
    Nobody in the world, dead or alive, knew how long Miss Bell taught the fourth grade in and around Decatur, Texas...
  • The Sheriff
    "You never know when somebody says something, or does something, that it may have a big effect on you the rest of your life."
  • The Tight-Wire Walker
    "She's very daring. They put her wire up to the very tiptop of the tent thirty-five feet above the ground, and she does exciting maneuvers without using a net."
  • My Date with Mary
    Mary was the cause of the most exciting week of my young life.
  • Recommended Books on Decatur, Texas
    Two excellent books of stories of growing up in Wise County during the first half of the 20th century are:
  • I Was A Teen in the 1930s by Harold Bell, 2002 - book review
    Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned by Listening to Old Men On My Paper Route in Decatur, Texas
    or
    What They Didn't Tell Me Was Supplemented By Selling Magazine Subscriptions Around the Southern United States During the Great Depression.
  • Joe B. Frantz on Small Towns
    From the Foreword to Eighter from Decaur: Growing Up in North Texas

    by Jim Tom Barton, Texas A&M University Press, 1980
  • Nearby Destinations

  • Wise County Towns
  • Lake Bridgeport - off US Highway 380 west of Decatur. On the West Fork Trinity River in Jack and Wise counties.

  • Decatur Tourist Information
  • Decatur Chamber of Commerce - (940) 627-3107
    P.O. Box 474, 1200-C S. FM 51, Decatur, Texas 76234
    http://www.decaturtx.com/
  • City of Decatur - http://www.decaturtx.org/

    Book Hotel Here > Decatur Hotels
  • Decatur, Texas
    Area Destinations:

    Bowie
    Denton
    Fort Worth
    See Wise County
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    Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic photos, please contact us.

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