117 years ago today, the paragraph below appeared in the Bryan, Texas Eagle: “The Gun of Rev. George W. Truett Goes Off Accidentally While Hunting. Dallas, Feb. 5. – J. C. Arnold, chief of police of this city, was accidentally shot yesterday near Cleburne, Tex., while hunting, by Rev. George W. Truett, pastor of the First Baptist church here. The gun of the minister was accidentally discharged, sending a load of birdshot into Captain Arnold’s leg. The wound is not considered dangerous.”Continue reading The Preacher and the Police Chief
“John Wesley Harding
Was a friend to the poor
He trav’led with a gun in ev’ry hand
All along this countryside
He opened a many a door
But he was never known
To hurt a honest man.”
“John Wesley Harding” by Bob Dylan
The life of John G. Hardin was typical of many Texans who came to the state with little or nothing and remained for the rest of their lives. John G. Hardin was born in the Mississippi in 1854. His family relocated to Tennessee shortly thereafter. When he reached the age of 21, he came to Texas on a visit with his father. His father returned to Tennessee while John remained.
Legend has it that the town of Burkburnett in Wichita County was named by President Teddy Roosevelt upon visiting the area for a wolf hunt at the invitation of rancher Samuel Burk Burnett. Roosevelt reportedly named the post office for Burnett, the founder of the 6666 Ranch.
The area was settled by ranchers before the Civil War and was also historically inhabited by Native American Caddoan Indians, namely the Wichitas and Taovoyas, along with the Apaches and Commanches. At various times, settlements went by the names of Nesterville and Gilbert until the 1900s when Burnett sold some of his acreage to developers including Frank Kell and Joseph Kemp. The community took a firm foothold and the surnames Kell, Kemp and Burnett are familiar to Wichita County residents today.
With the economic benefit provided by the Wichita Falls and Northwestern Railway, development took hold. It was further encouraged by the discovery of oil west of town in 1912. The 1940 MGM adventure film Boom Town is based on the James Edward Grant fictional story “A Lady Comes to Burkburnett” and starred Clark Game, Spencer Tracy, Claudette Colbert, Hedy Lamarr and Chill Wills. It was nominated for two Academy Awards and was reportedly the highest grossing Clark Gable film exceeded only by Gone with the Wind.
Wichita County was established by an act of the Texas Legislature in 1858. The current City of Burkburnett was incorporated in 1923 and is located at coordinates 34°4′58″N 98°34′6″W.
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