Timeline for Clay County's Early Years
By Lucille Glasgow
Late '50's, early '60's: most ranchers lived in Montague Co. grazed cattle in Clay Co; suffered heavy losses; included J.B. Earhart; Charlie Wantling, Jim Dumas; E.E. Emerson; Calvin Smith; Harris Forsythe; Perry E. & Levi Wilson; Willis Sparks; Ed Wolffarth; W.T. & Jess Waybourne; Farmers came to grow corn, wheat, oats, vegetables; George Shelton; Tip Mooney; Ben Hubert; Mr. Valentine; Mr. Gouch.
1857: created from Cooke Co; named Clay after Henry Clay, county seat to be Henrietta, the feminine form of Henry, not his wife's name
Population 107 whites, 2 free Negroes
1860 -Organized, an election of officials; Henrietta had some 10 houses and a general store occupied by some of the absentee ranchers
1863: Disorganized because of the Civil War and marauding Indians who burned all the buildings.
Clay Co was a good place for deserters, outlaws, and Indians during the war.
1865: Dr. Elderidge attempted settling 8 or 10 families in charred buildings; several massacred; others left;
1866: The Babb Cabin raided in Wise Co.; Dot & Bianca kidnapped, later ransomed; Mrs. Luster escaped, later returned home.
1867: Ft. Buffalo Springs built in southern Clay Co.- one Indian raid there- moved to become Ft. Richardson at Jacksboro the same year because of insufficient water supply.
1869: Henry Whaley first truly permanent settler, near present Waurika Bridge; grew oats to sell to the cavalry at Ft. Sill, which had been established in 1867,
1869: Wm Benjamin Worsham came as Chisholm Trail boss, later big rancher, banker, oil producer
1870: Gottleb Koozier was murdered by Indians under Chief Whitehorse, his wife and daughters kidnapped, later ransomed.
1872- the community of Newport began in extreme southeast Clay Co.
1872- J.P. Earle came to Clay Co. to straighten out some surveys for Doc. Eldridge; camped the first night at a crossing on East Fork near old Sparks Ranch, said bottoms of East Fork & Little Wichita were full of Kansas horse thieves. He came again in 1873 with Clay Co. land records in a gunny sack on his saddle horn.
1871-2. Wichita City by a few ranchers
1873- Spring- not a house in Henrietta, just burned chimneys- George Rouse had a grocery store in a large tent at the crossing of Turkey Creek on Charlie Rd.-near where Ikard brought the first Hereford cattle to Texas in 1876
1873 Clay Co reorganized with Cambridge as county seat (according to Earle); election held - the first house in Henrietta was a one-story double log cabin where Main & Commerce St. now intersect - served as post office, district & county clerk's office - first sermon preached there while Indians stole all the horses.
1873- Satterfield grocery in Wichita City, then as Henrietta’s first in 1874.
1873 – Chief Justice (later called County Judge) J.M. Grigsby held the first trial in Clay Co. – A Waggoner cowboy shot another cowboy- held an immediate trial with Col. Boothe, a stockman of Decatur serving as a defense attorney- the defendant was acquitted.
1870’s – Henrietta was the supply station for buffalo hunters, who went out on the Plains and returned with hides to be freighted to Sherman; later the hides and then bones were shipped by rail. Hides brought about $3.00 each.
1874 – First court in Clay Co. - Apr 6, Judge J.M. Lindsey of Gainesville – log house corner of Bridge & North –indicted White Horse for the murder of Mr. Koozier; White Horse was nowhere to be found
1874 – a ranger company was organized in Henrietta with E.F. Ikard captain & George Campbell of Montague 1st Lt.
1874 – Babe Cobb taught the first school in a little log cabin on town square
1875-1879 - Henrietta had legal jurisdiction all the way west to the New Mexico line until Wheeler County was organized with Mobettie the county seat.
1876- District Court under Judge Joseph A. Carroll- while court and jury were at supper, a cyclone hit & blew down the house – no one hurt.
1876 - US Gov. put telegraph line through Cambridge to connect forts to Ft. Sill. Cambridge had over 600 residents and tried to get the county seat; gave up when the Ft. Worth and Denver City RR came through Henrietta in 1882.
1877 – W. B. Plemons appointed 1st County Judge –later was a lawyer & state legislator in Amarillo
1880's - stage coaches ran from Henrietta through Benjamin out to Mobettie and from Henrietta to Ft. Sill and out to Archer City
1882 - Railroad came through Henrietta and went on to Wichita Falls that same year. Henrietta has incorporated as a town that year also.