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THE HISTORY OF WHARTON COUNTY


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The town of Wharton was founded as the seat of Wharton County
in April 1846, named for two brothers, William Harris and
John Austin Wharton, who were Texas heroes. The town site was
surveyed by Virgil Stewart and William J.E. Heard, and rich
farmland attracted many settlers. Land for a courthouse
named Monterey Square was given from the land grant of
William Kincheloe, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old 300
colonists who settled in this area in 1822.The advent of
railroads and irrigation brought increased settlement to the
town, which remains a center of agricultural, educational,
industrial, and medical services for a large area.
The Wharton County Courthous, pictured below, has been
restored to its 1888 status.



City of Wharton Tour Movie



1985 Wharton Country Youth Fair Parade





Prospective landowners first came to the plains of the Colorado River in 1822, 
having been led there by Stephen F. Austin under contract with the 
Mexican Government.  The Mexican Imperial Colonization Law of 1823 
granted 177 acres to the heads of families for farming, 4428 acres for raising 
cattle and 80 extra acres for each slave owned by the settler.

During the time of the Republic of Texas, 1836-1846, the area was divided 
into three counties: Matagorda, Jackson, and Colorado, 
each consisting of isolated plantation homes and two 
growing towns, Preston and Egypt.  When Texas entered 
the United States in 1845, Wharton County was formed of 
parts of the three existing counties near the intersection 
of mail routes from Matagorda to Columbus and from 
Houston to Victoria.  The town and county were named 
after William H. Wharton, a lawyer, member of the Convention 
of 1832 and Minister to the United States, and his brother 
John A. Wharton, also a lawyer, soldier, Secretary of War and 
representative from Brazoria County to the First Congress of the 
Republic of Texas.  The land where the city of Wharton is now 
located was originally part of a league granted to William Kincheloe


and his family in 1824.  Located on the east bank of the Colorado River, 
in what was known as the "Great Prairie Canebrake" of "Bay Prairie", 
this rich flood plain was covered with a dense stand of 20’ tall switch 
cane through which flowed Caney Creek, originally a bed of the 
Colorado River.  This cane had to be cut down by the first team 
to survey the town site.  Kincheloe donated the land for the courthouse 
and central square.  Land below the square providing access to the 
river was designated as Kincheloe Common.  Under Mexican and 
Texan laws, water rights remained with the government.  Rain collected 
in cisterns and well water provided the drinking water.

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The town In its earliest days consisted of a few houses made of logs or imported lumber. Heart pine shipped from Louisiana was frequently used. Brick buildings were scarce but slaves made bricks for f oundations and chimneys. On the riverbank where the City Hall now stands was Lucinda Flowers' cabin, built about 1843, and nearby were cabins for about one hundred slaves. Farther away on the main road, towards Matagorda was the two-story brick-and-scantlings plantation home of Albert Horton, elected Lieutenant Governor in .
1845.  A. A. McWillie's 228 acre plantation was located at the northern edge of town. 
The first courthouse of Wharton County, a small frame building, was built in 1848, 
enclosed within a wire fence in 1851.  In June, 1852, the first courthouse was torn
 down.  The new courthouse was finished in March of 1852. Built of brick, the 40’ 
square building was two stories, with the first floor divided by intersecting 
north-south and east-west passageways.  In 1857, the wire fence was replaced 
by a plank fence of heart pine which stood until the early 1900's
 
 The second official building to be built was the jail in 1854.  
It was made of 8” logs on a 3’ brick base, topped by a second 
story made of a wooden wall enclosed by a brick wall. 


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