Other Views of Gainesville

Other Views from 1883

Where is Gainesville?

Above: Augustus Koch (1840–?). Bird’s Eye View of the City of Gainesville Cooke County, Texas 1883, 1883. Lithograph, 22.7 x 30 in. Lithographer unknown. Morton Museum of Cooke County, Gainesville.

Gainesville in 1883

The Gainesville that Augustus Koch depicted in 1883 was a prosperous cattle town, with a large courthouse and public school building financed by income from the cattle business. The first Anglo-American settlers arrived in the area, on the western border of the Eastern Cross Timbers, where “the magnificent roll of the prairie is broken abruptly off against the woody rim,” in the 1840s, and the city was founded as the county seat of Cooke County in 1850.[1] Although the city was on the Butterfield Stagecoach route, the area did not begin to grow until hostilities with the Indians ceased in 1868 and the cattle drives of the post–Civil War era brought in new business and offered local ranchers the opportunity to market their cattle. A branch of what became known as the Chisholm Trail passed near Gainesville, and drovers on their way to railheads in Kansas often stopped for entertainment, relaxation, and restocking for the trail.[2]

Koch depicted the city from the southeast. The streets are laid out north-south, east-west. California Street, so named because it was a part of the route that gold seekers took on their way from St. Louis to California in 1849 and 1850, runs east and west, more or less dividing the city north and south. As with many of his other city views, Koch focused on the Denison and Pacific Railway which had connected the city with Denison in 1879 and later became a part of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad. The tracks and passenger station, complete with a puffing locomotive and box cars on side tracks, are shown in the right foreground. Elm Creek, a tributary of the Trinity River, marks the city’s western boundary and is fed by a smaller creek, called simply “slough” on some maps. Leonard Park was established in the area east of Elm Creek and between California Street on the north and Church Street on the south in 1902, but it had been a designated swimming area ever since 1874. In 1877, a city ordinance prohibited nude bathing between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Pecan Creek winds by the eastern side of the city, crossing under the railroad in the center foreground en route to its confluence with Elm Creek south of the city. Telegraph wires parallel the tracks.

Koch identified a number of businesses by labeling the roofs of the structures, including Gleaves & Fletcher at the corner of Boggs and Rusk streets, the Lyon and Gribble Lumber Company stretching along Denton Street from Bogg almost to Hudson Street. As usual, he also identified a number of churches, hotels, mills, and the courthouse and jail, and the Gainesville Driving Park is featured in the upper right hand corner of the print.