Heritage Association
Brown County

Note:  This website will be discontinued at the end of August 2014.
It will be replaced by http://browncountyhistory.org/

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History of Brown County

Brown county was formed in Texas in 1856 from Comanche and Travis counties and organized in 1858, with Brownwood designated as the county seat.  Brown County is named for Capt. Henry Stevenson Brown, a company commander in the battle of Velasco and a delegate to the Convention of 1832.  The  settlers were harassed by Indians and white predators for twenty years after the county was formed. 

Oil was discovered in Brown County in 1879, and a small producing well was drilled on the H. M. Barnes farm near Grosvenor in 1900. Later, several other wells were drilled, but the first commercial production came from the efforts of Jack Pippen in 1917 at Brownwood. 

Between 1941 and 1943 military needs led to the construction of Camp Bowie,an infantry and cavalry training center, mainly of the 36th Infrantry Division, that covered 122,000 acres south of Brownwood.  Over 240,000 men and women trained at Camp Bowie during World War II.

The county is served by U.S. highways 67 and 84 crossing from east to west, and 377 and 183 from northeast to southwest. The Texas Pacifico Railroad crosses the state from the northeast to the west through Brownwood.

The first courthouse in Brown County was a log cabin east of its present site.  In 1865, a second story was added to a building that was to serve as a Masonic Lodge. When title to the land proved defective, the courthouse was moved to its current location, and it burned in 1880. There was no courthouse from 1880 to 1885. The cornerstone for a new courthouse on the same site was laid on October 30, 1884. In 1916 the County decided to repair or remodel the courthouse. The courthouse of today is known as classical revival brick.

The old Brown County Jail (shown in the background), now the Brown County Museum of History, was started in 1902 and completed in 1903 and exemplifies the principles that governed jail design in America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The museum was organized in 1983 by the Historical Society showcase the history of this county.