Sherman in 1891
The Texas Legislature established Sherman as the seat of government for Grayson County in 1846, and by 1860 the city had incorporated and become an important trading center for farmers in the surrounding area. The growth continued with the arrival of the Houston and Texas Central Railway in 1872, but because the city did not offer enough support, the Missouri, Kansas and Texas line chose to establish a new city—Denison—for its roundhouse and shops that year and did not build a line to Sherman until 1880. According to one historian, Sherman prided itself on its schools and its society, while Denison valued “success.” This led to a natural rivalry between the two cities that continues today.
When Thaddeus Fowler arrived to do his view of Sherman, he found a thriving regional center with a population of almost 8,000; flour and cotton mills; iron works; and several small colleges, including North Texas Female College and Austin College for men. Fowler prominently illustrated and identified public school buildings. He pictured the generally flat terrain from the southwest looking northwest, with Post Oak Creek in the lower left-hand corner of the image. The town had suffered two fires in 1875 that destroyed all the buildings on the south side of the courthouse square and all but two on the east side. Merchants quickly replaced the wooden structures with more substantial brick buildings, which helps explain the uniform and substantial look of the buildings around the courthouse.