Symour, County Seat and
only town in Baylor County, is located in northwest Texas at the crossroads
of five major highways. Farming, ranching and oil are the major industries.
Baylor County was created by the State of Texas in 1858, opening this
vast area for settlement. Until this time, the area was home of Indians
and wildlife - untouched by the hand of the "white man". Comanche,
Tonkawa and Wichita Indians roamed the area. One of their favorite campgrounds
was the area that is now Seymour. Wild game and water were plentiful along
Early settlers who came looking for free range land were driven away by
Indians who were quick to defend their hunting ground, thus slowing the
settlement of Baylor County.
It was 1878 before a group of settlers came from Oregon and stayed to
establish the Town of Seymour. A post office was requested and the new
town was to be named Oregon City. However, as there was already a city
by this name, the Baylor County town was renamed Seymour. It was possibly
named for a cowboy, Seymour Munday, who lived near the creek.
After the town was established, more settlers came. The census of 1880
shows 78 people living in the County.
The first settlers were ranchers, taking advantage of the free range.
Farmers came, but had trouble raising crops because the ranchers cut their
fences - allowing cattle to destroy the crops.
During the years of the free range, the Millett Brothers established a
large ranch with the headquarters some 10 miles south of Seymour on Miller
Creek. The cowboys on this ranch were a very disturbing factor in the
early days of the County. There were about 50 men in the Millett outfit
and some of these were reported to be thieves and outlaws. They did all
in their power to prevent settlement of the county and made life very
hard for the early settlers. It was not unusual for some of the cowboys
to ride into Seymour for supplies, then purchase whiskey and proceed to
"shoot up the town".
A range war was prevented only by a law which was passed in 1884 -- making
fence-cutting a felony. The Milletts realized that law and order had come
to the County and sold their ranch. The sale included 25,000 cattle and
1,000 horses. Hughes and Simpson were the buyers. It was the largest transaction
ever made in northwest Texas at that time. The purchasers used the Hashknife
Ranch branch, which is still in use in the County.
With the free range gone, farmers, merchants and professional people came
to Seymour. The town began to grow.
The Concord Stage Coach came through Seymour, making its run from Wichita
Falls to Abilene. The Butterfield Trail, a branch of the Chisholm Trail
and the Old Cheyenne Trail, passed through Baylor County driving great
herds of cattle from south Texas to Kansas to market. There were as many
as 6,000 head of cattle in some herds.
Small towns and communities sprang up throughout the County -- Westover,
Red Springs and Bomarton, to name a few. At one time, there were 16 schools
in Baylor County. Today they have all been consolidated within the Seymour
Murals by Bill Ines
Mural by Tom Lea in the Seymour Post Office
Great Western Trail - Cattle Drive