Granbury, county seat of Hood County, lies thirty-six miles southwest of Fort Worth on the shore of Lake Granbury on Highway 377. In 1854 “Uncle Tommy” Lambert and Amon Bond led a group of emigrants, mostly from Tennessee, across the Brazos River to the west bank into traditional Indian territory. That same year, Elizabeth Crockett brought her family from Tennessee to settle on a league of land awarded by the Republic of Texas to heirs of men who fought in the Texas Revolution in 1836. In 1866 brothers J. and J. H. Nutt donated forty acres of riverfront property to form a new townsite, and Hood County was carved out of Johnson and Erath counties and named in honor of Gen. John Bell Hood.
The new town was named for Gen. Hiram Bronson Granbury,qv who led Confederate troops from this area into battle during the Civil War. Three spirited elections were needed to make Granbury the county seat, instead of the older Glen Rose and Fort Spunky further south. The first two courthouses burned, the second one in 1875, at which time Somervell County was demarcated out of Hood County. Granbury’s new three-story courthouse was built of Brazos limestone and had a lighted clock tower.
The first public school in Granbury was taught by A. P. Harbin in 1871, the same year that the Methodists established the first church. A year later W. L. Bond founded the first newspaper, the Vidette. This was later taken over by Ashley Crockett, who had come to Texas in 1854. Granbury prospered as the trading center for much of north central Texas, marketing pecans, peanuts, peaches, grains, and cotton. Reunion Park, established in honor of returning Civil War veterans who met annually into the twentieth century, provided an active arena for trading and auctioning livestock. The county fair is held there annually.
When the Fort Worth and Denver Railway came through Granbury in 1887, travelers no longer had to ride thirty-five miles north to flag down the Butterfield Stages running from Sherman to El Paso. This rail connection spurred the construction of many buildings, mostly two story and built of limestone. There are thirty-nine such historic buildings in Granbury; many of them are on the courthouse square and house various business establishments. The Old Opera House, built in 1886, is a main tourist attraction, and the old red brick depot of 1887 is now the Genealogical Museum.
In the last century these buildings were occupied by several saloons, gun shops, a bank, the sheriff’s office and jail, a farm supply store, the Beef Market, and the Granbury House. These outstanding examples of nineteenth-century buildings are identified with state historical markers. In 1972 De Cordova Dam was constructed across the Brazos River southeast of Granbury. The town responded with new marinas and shopping malls to serve the expanding residential developments along the meandering riverbed.
Further growth came with the construction of the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant in the 1980s, which brought in thousands of employees to Somervell and Hood counties. In 1990 Granbury’s independent school district listed taxable properties amounting to more than $1 billion.
The population in 1990 was 4,045. In addition to its historic square, Granbury’s tourist attractions include facilities for golfing, fishing, and boating. The Granbury Queen, an old paddle wheeler, cruises the lake on weekends. Annual events include the Fourth of July Parade and the Bean Cook Off. The fifth annual reunion of the descendants of David Crockett was held in Granbury in 1990.
Ted W. Mayborn
The Texas Handbook Online