Carrollton and Southeast Denton Co.

Paul Warren

The settlement of the Carrollton, TX area was determined in 1841, not in Carrollton, but in Austin, 200 miles south. Having gained independence from Mexico in 1836 Texas was a Republic- independent, few people, ant broke. The only asset the Republic of Texas had was land. But it needed people.

The Republic, then, among many other acts to gain population passed an act on Feb. 4, 1841, authorizing a contract with twenty or so businessmen of Louisville, KY. and London, England, to establish a colony of residents in North Texas. (Later to be called the Peters Colony.) with its first headquarters located in Farmers Branch. The Peters Colony Company was named after three prominent members of the Kentucky group named Peters. They advertised the venture extensively in KY, IL, IN, and TN as well as in Europe for settlers to come to Texas.

And the settlers came. Many of them settled in what is now Southeast Denton Co. and Northwest Dallas Co. These emigrants claimed their 640 acres as head of household or 320 acres if single, and established their farms and ranches in the area that is now Carrollton.

This is a simplified account because the Peters Colony grant was changed or amended to include more land several times. The Peters Colony organization agreed to furnish good citizens as settlers in return for land and other considerations. Their advertising in the previously mentioned places achieved this result.

Some of the pioneer families settling here----without an attempt to be complete, or to place them in the order of their arrival ---follow
Thomas L Chenowith
J. W. Chowning
M. Franklin Fortner
Mary Kennedy
William Cochran
David Myers
John Nix
A. W. Perry
William Larner
Western Perry
John Miller Myers
Thomas Rattan
Jesse V. Mounts
Joshua B. Lee
Hamp Rattan
Sarah Perry
W. H. Witt
Preston Witt
Robert Chowning

These and many others settled the farms and ranches in the area. Most of them were from Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, and Kentucky as well as England. Other early families were the

Elisha Fyke
Noah Good
Issac Webb
Thomas Williams
Obadiah Knight
John B. Bachman
George W. Record
John Warner, Sr.
John Jackson
Robert J. West families.

These settlers and all their neighbors had problems with Indians, weather, and wild animals as well as the remoteness of their location. The area was well settled by the mid 1840's.

Carrollton proceeded from the 1840's to today from farm and ranch settlements to village to town to city. William and Mary Larner were probably the ones that deserve recognition as the first colonists to settle and spend the rest of their lives in the area later known as Carrollton. They married in Carrollton, IL March 30, 1837, sold their property there in 1842 and headed for Texas with their three children. They arrived in 1842 and settled here where two other children were born to them.

Others already named as well as many more unnamed followed and settled the Carrollton area throughout the 1840's and after. Another very prominent family (many believed they were the first) was the A. W. Perry family from Greene Co. Illinois. They settled in 1844 in the Trinity Mills area of what is now Carrollton. His headright was patented in Trinity Mills area where he and his family lived and cultivated the land. In time he accumulated vast land holdings. Thus he owned most if not all of the land in the original townsite of Carrollton. He was an original partner with Wade H. Witt in the mill at Trinity Mills to which settlers from Southeast Denton Co. as well as Dallas and Collin Co. settlers took their grain to be ground.

Mr. Perry, through years of accumulating much land was apparently instrumental in granting much of the right of way and a site for a depot for the Dallas-Wichita Railroad when they made plans to extend their operations Northward. This was key to the development of Carrollton. He also donated land for use of church and schools. He established a cemetery. He platted at least a half dozen residential additions in Carrollton. He had 14 children and gave each one that survived to adulthood a large amount of land. Definitely by 1882, and perhaps a few years earlier, Carrollton moved from farm settlements to a small village because it is known that by then

Rev. John Miller Myers had a general merchandise store and a drug store in what is now downtown Carrollton adjacent to the railroad for which he was the first agent. An area northeast of downtown Carrollton extending into southeast Denton Co. frequently was referred to as the English Colony because the large landowners of the area had come from England.

One of the first English families to settle in that area was that of John Jackson who came in 1848. He and his family emigrated from England to claim the 640 acres he had purchased for 50~ an acre, sight unseen, from a representative of the Peters Colony organization. They crossed the Atlantic aboard the "Gypsy Queen" in nine weeks, arriving in New Orleans. After a few days rest they procured a journey by riverboat to Shreveport. From there he had to buy a covered wagon, six oxen, ant many supplies to make the overland trip to Stewartsville approximately where Hebron is now, by way of Bonham. All this after he and his sons taught themselves how to drive the oxen. After much difficulty they finally settled about 3 miles north and northeast of what would be Carrollton. What fierce determination they showed.

The Jacksons, Furneauxs, and Morgans formed the nucleus of the English Colony but there were others. Many of these and other English families are buried in the Furneaux Cemetery in Southeast Denton County which is now in Carrollton. It was started in 1884. There was a Methodist Church at this location until it was destroyed by a tornado in the 1920's.

So, when did the Town of Carrollton begin to take shape? Research reveals that the earliest survey of Carrollton was on a plat filed Jan. 26, 1878 by A. T. Obenchain. He was agent for depot towns of the Dallas & Wichita Railroad Co. The post office for the village was established May 16, 1878. As noted earlier there were commercial businesses here in 1882. There was a cotton gin in town also. Then came other mills, more gins, two churches and two schools. It was a shipping center by rail by 1884-85 for grain, cotton, and cotton seed and had daily mail service by rail.

Another railroad, the Cotton Belt, came through Carrollton in 1888 bringing additional business and prosperity. It was followed by a third, The Frisco Railroad in 1903. All three railroads had a unique crossing in Carrollton which exists today and has received a Carrollton Plaque of Historic Significance. There are other such plaques in the city as well as several State Historic Markers. No doubt other businesses were founded between 1885 and the turn of the century. In 1900, the business district was platted which became the town square.

Many businesses were now being opened, and in 1903 the first bank was opened on the square. The building-The Bank of Carrollton, still stands, though it is not now a bank. In 1913 a Ford dealership opened on the east side of the square. In any event 1913 was the year the City of Carrollton was Incorporated. The business area of the town remained much the same until the 1950's. After this Carrollton grew and other shopping areas came about east of downtown.

Also in the early 1900's a brick factory began operations and ran successfully for about 10 years. In fact Carrollton had still another brick factory for awhile. They provided some employment opportunities. Another major business was the operating of gravel pits. The J. Fred Smith Gravel Co. was organized in 1912 and was a major employer providing a large payroll for the area. It operated until 1966. In 1924 the Texas Interurban Railway from Dallas to Denton came through Carrollton, further tying Dallas and Denton Counties. It could carry 56 people and ran at regular and frequent intervals. The town grew and grew.

By 1960 the population was in excess of 13000. By the late 1960's the population and the town expanded into Southeast Denton County. Into the 1970's North Carrolltons booming population expanded the northern border of Carrollton deeper into Denton County. It continued in the 1980's and now into the 1990's until now in this Sesqui-Centennial year, well in excess of 55% of Carrolltons population of some 88,000 to 90,000 people live in Denton County.

It is fitting, therefore, that in the year of Denton Counties Sesqui-Centennial, We are Carrolltonians and over half of us, the writer and his family included, are Denton Countians.

Jan. 1996

"Elm Fork Settlements" by Georgia Myers Ogle
"Sixty Years In Texas" by George Jackson
Personal knowledge of Peggy Oliver, Historian
Personal knowledge of Paul Warren, Citizen