Decatur, Texas has a rich and fascinating history, with events that have shaped its past and still resonate today. Here are seven historical events that have taken place near Decatur.
1. Battle of Decatur – During the Civil War, Decatur was a strategic location as it was on the route of the Confederate supply line from Texas to Arkansas. On March 22, 1862, Union troops under Colonel Edward Canby attacked Confederate troops under General Henry McCulloch. After a day-long battle, the Confederates withdrew, and Decatur remained in Union control for the remainder of the war.
2. Butterfield Overland Mail Route – In the mid-1800s, the Butterfield Overland Mail Route passed through Decatur on its way from St. Louis to San Francisco. The stagecoaches carried mail, passengers, and goods, and the route became an important link between the East and West.
3. Wise County Courthouse Lynchings – In 1893, two African American men, Anthony Bewley and Thomas Harper, were arrested for the alleged murder of a white woman. They were held in the Wise County Courthouse in Decatur, where a mob of white men broke in and lynched them. The men were hanged from a nearby tree, and the incident drew national attention and condemnation.
4. Oil Discoveries – In the early 20th century, oil was discovered in the area around Decatur, leading to a boom in the local economy. The first significant discovery was the Daisy Bradford well in 1918, which produced over 3,000 barrels a day. The town of Bridgeport, just south of Decatur, became known as the "Oil Capital of North Texas."
5. Wise County Seat War – For over a decade in the late 1800s, there was a dispute over where the county seat of Wise County should be located. The town of Decatur had been the county seat since 1858, but some residents wanted it moved to the new town of Bridgeport. The dispute led to several lawsuits, physical altercations, and even the theft of the county records. In 1895, the Texas Supreme Court finally ruled in favor of Decatur.
6. Chisholm Trail – The Chisholm Trail, used in the late 1800s to drive cattle from Texas to Kansas, passed near Decatur. Cowboys would stop in Decatur to rest and resupply before continuing on their journey. The trail was a crucial part of the development of the American West and remains a symbol of the grit and determination of the cowboys who traveled it.
7. Wild West Shows – In the early 1900s, several traveling Wild West shows visited Decatur, including those led by legendary figures Buffalo Bill Cody and Tom Mix. The shows featured trick riding, sharpshooting, and reenactments of frontier battles, and were a popular form of entertainment for people of all ages.
These events are just a few of the many historic moments that have occurred near Decatur, Texas. They offer a glimpse into the town's past, and a reminder of the people and events that have shaped it.
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