Capital of Texas" Sulphur
Springs celebrates 150 Years of History in 2004
Hopkins County Seat, East
Junction of I-30 and State Hwys 11, 19, and 154
S of Paris
43 miles N of Canton
miles W of Mount Pleasant
E of Greenville, 78 miles
E of Dallas
Population 14,551 (2000)
County courthouse and square.
1906 Postcard courtesy James Perkins
County Courthouse and Town Square|
Text and Photos by Sam Fenstermacher
The town square in Sulphur
Springs is a dramatically different place. A vintage J. Riely Gordon courthouse
occupies the northeast corner of the spacious town square. This offset location
is both by choice and chance. The previous courthouse was built on the east side
of the original town square. When that building burned down in 1894, a decision
was made to buy additional property east of the town square and build the present
day courthouse on the northeast corner of the enlarged town square.
net result of all these events in Hopkins County is a spacious public square with
plenty of room for parking and public gathering. Along the eastern side of the
square there's a bandstand and a small yard with trees and benches. The parking
lot and walkways on the square are paved with red bricks. This adds a vintage
feel to the place, and also creates a dramatic approach to the county courthouse....
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Seat’s Troubles by Bob
Hopkins County’s first seat of government, Tarrant had more troubles than most
frontier communities in East Texas.
In the end, the misfortunes converged to cause the town’s demise after 24 years
of tenuous existence.
In 1846, the Texas Legislature created a new county
named for the Hopkins family from portions of Lamar and Nacogdoches counties.
Two places within three miles of the center were chosen as suitable sites
for the county seat. Eli Hopkins offered the county suitable land for a public
square and courthouse if voters would decide in has favor. His brother Eldridge,
however, made a similar but competing offer.
Eldridge’s tract won out and
the county seat was named for General Edward H. Tarrant, a legislator who decided
that he had rather fight Indians on the frontier than deal with politicians. He
became a Texas Ranger and was popular among the frontier’s settlers.
a county seat, Tarrant began to grow. The county used a log cabin as the first
courthouse and county officials often carried county records to their homes for
safekeeping. In 1851, a contract for a permanent courthouse was awarded, but the
construction floundered for lack of money.
The solution was ingenious,
if not legal. When an official noted that cattle herds being driven through East
Texas by Louisiana cattlemen were munching on Hopkins County’s grasslands,
the cattle were found to be in violation of a law that supposedly said Texas grass
was not free.
Hopkins County charged the herd’s owners with breaking the
law and seized some 300 head of cattle, sold them at auction and raised $1,772
to finish the courthouse.
the Civil War, and the imposition of Reconstruction rule in Texas,
Tarrant’s people found that federal soldiers had little sympathy for East
The commander of a federal company in East
Texas deployed his men at Sulphur Springs, instead of at the county
seat, and ordered the county’s records delivered to his headquarters.
county records remained there until 1870 when civilian rule was reestablished
in the county and the records were returned to Tarrant. But Tarrant’s victory
The Texas Legislature soon approved a special act to make
Sulphur Springs the county seat. The Tarrant courthouse was closed and
sold at auction.
When the county seat was moved permanently to Sulphur
Springs, many county residents objected, particularly those living in the
north side of the county. They claimed Sulphur Springs was not the center
of Hopkins County.
But under another act of the Texas Legislature, a part
of Lamar County and the northern portion of Hopkins County were organized into
a new county known as Delta and the southwestern part of Hopkins County was deleted
and became Rains County.
The gerrymandering placed Sulphur Springs
near the exact center of Hopkins County.
Tarrant began to fade away and
today, except for a well-kept cemetery, there are no reminders today of Old Tarrant.
Bowman's East Texas" Column
Theatre in Sulphur Springs|
December 1984 photo courtesy Billy
Lake State Park
In northern Hopkins County
Rt 3 Box 741 Sulphur Springs
County Museum and Heritage Park
416 N Jackson St. Admission feeMusic
611 N Davis St. in library. 903-885-4926Southwest
In Civic Center Complex, 1210 Houston St. (Hwy 11).
Springs Tourist Information Visitor
Center - I-30. At the Factory Store of Amaerica mall.
888-300-6623 - Information
on city, events, accommodations and diningCity
of Sulphur Springs - http://www.sulphurspringstx.org/ Hopkins
County Chamber of Commerce - 903-885-6515
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Selling the Calves by
Robert G. Cowser
In the late 1940s cattle auctions were common in the
towns of Northeast Texas. Each town picked a different day of the week so as not
to compete with nearby towns. Sulphur Springs held its auction on Mondays,
Mt. Pleasant on Tuesdays, Paris
on Wednesdays, and Winnsboro on Fridays.
Most of the livestock bought by buyers from local meat-packing plants were calves
born in the spring and sold in the late summer or early autumn.
farm near Saltillo my father kept a herd of thirty Jersey cows as breeders. He
bred the cows to a Hereford bull because the Jersey cows produced more milk than
Hereford cows and the milk from the Jerseys was higher in butterfat.... more
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Springs water tower, razed in 2002
2002 photo courtesy Lou Ann Herda
Springs Water Tower (Razed in 2002)|
Springs complete with power lines/phone lines that I couldn't get around. I was
standing in the middle of a very busy road at the time before I realized traffic
was headed my way. I think this tower is an A-1 example of a fine Texas water
tower. Not as nice as the Fayetteville
one, but still pleasant. The cursive lettering is unmatched." - Lou Ann
Herda, April 14, 2002
Thank you for your
kind remarks about our water tower. However, I'm afraid it is no more. Not long
after you took that photograph, the landmark was torn down. It was really sad
to a lot of us. - John L. Bradberry, Sulphur Springs, TX, August 12, 2003
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic/contemporary
photos, please contact
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