There were a number of early Texans who had the last name of Baylor. Henry W. Baylor was born in Paris, Kentucky in 1818 to John Walker Bledsoe Baylor and Sophie Marie Weidner Baylor. He studied medicine and liberal arts at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, founded in 1780, making it one of the oldest universities in the United States. About 1839 he came to visit his brother John Robert Baylor who had relocated to Texas earlier in the year. They joined the forces of Col. John H. Moore to fight Comanches for a time before Henry established a medical practice in La Grange, Fayette County. After going on several campaigns in pursuit of marauding Indians, he interrupted his medical practice to enlist in Company E of Col. John Coffee Hays‘ First Mounted Riflemen, First Rgt., where he served as a surgeon during the Mexican-American War. After his initial enlistment period was up, he reenlisted with Hays in the Second Rgt. where he was chosen as Captain. This unit served under U. S. Gen. Zachary Taylor and operated between Vera Cruz and Mexico City before returning to San Antonio for the duration of his enlistment.
After the Mexican-American War, he mustered out and returned to near Independence, Texas where he married in 1851. Baylor died of an unknown illness two years later and is buried in Independence, Texas. Baylor’s two younger brothers were John Robert and George Wythe Baylor. They were all nephews of Judge Robert Emmett Bledsoe Baylor, co-founder of Baylor University in 1845.
Henry W. Baylor is the namesake of Baylor County, located in North Central Texas. It was carved out of Fannin County in the late 1850s and formally founded in 1879. Before the Anglo settlement began, it was inhabited by a band of Comanche Indians who relied on its supply of buffalo for a great part of their basic needs for survival. It was not until the buffalo were eliminated from the area that the Comanche Indians were defeated and moved to a reservation in southern Oklahoma in the mid 1870s.
The first towns were Round Timber (no longer in existence) and Seymour, its county seat and both were assigned post offices in 1879. Rail service first reached the area in 1890 with the completion of the Wichita Valley Railway that ran from Seymour to Wichita Falls. Two more rail lines were completed through the area later. Its economy has primarily relied on farming and ranching until oil was discovered in the area in 1924. Seymour remains the largest town in the county, and its residents make up most of the county’s population. Over the years, Baylor County has used three different buildings as its courthouse. The first was a low building in Seymour followed in 1884 by an attractive three story building on the square, demolished in 1967. Its current courthouse is now a more modern looking structure dating back to the 1960s.
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