Back When … Spring Creek County
On Nov. 17, 2015, a forgotten part of Texas history was brought to light and honored with a Texas Historical Commission Marker. Spring Creek County was one of 16 “Judicial” counties established between 1840 and 1842 to provide better access to citizens when conducting government business, such as recording deeds, paying taxes, court proceedings, and other business activities. In the early days of Texas, the County Courthouse was where the real business of government took place.
Harrisburg County was created in 1836 and in December 1839 it became Harris County, with the city of Houston as the county seat. Montgomery County was established by the act of Dec. 14, 1837 and the city of Montgomery was declared the county seat. The county seats of Houston and Montgomery were 30 to 45 miles away from the Spring Creek area depending on your location. The people living in the Spring Creek area were farmers, doctors, merchants, ministers, blacksmiths and veterans of the Battle of San Jacinto. At the time the only transportation was a horse, and people living on the outer edges of the counties would need a day or two to reach their county seat. It was too far away and inconvenient to serve on juries or conduct business. On Nov. 4, 1840, 130 male residents residing around the Spring Creek area signed a petition to the Congress of the Republic of Texas to create a new county comprising portions of Harris and Montgomery counties along Spring Creek.
Congress established Spring Creek County on Jan. 21, 1841 to give the residents better access to county offices and officials. The centrally located county seat would be a new town to be named Greenville. It was to be located on a high ridge one-quarter mile south of Spring Creek near today’s Rose Hill west of Tomball. The Republic of Texas Constitution stated that each county would have at least one representative in Congress, and the Congress was limited to 40 representatives until the population of the Republic reached 100,000 residents. So the new Spring Creek County, as well as 15 others, were established as ”judicial” counties, meaning that all court and government services would be supplied by the new county, but the congressional districts would remain the same, covering parts of multiple counties, as they do today.
William Pierpont, Isaac Decker, James Cooper, George W. Cropper, Abram Roberts and Archibald Smith were named County Commissioners. James Cooper was appointed Chief Justice (County Judge), and on May 8, 1841, the following officials were elected: District Clerk William B. Reeves, County Clerk Thomas M. Hogan, Coroner Jason Whitney, Sheriff Alexander F. Barron, Surveyor Eugene Pillot, and Justices of the Peace Henry T. Mostyn, Claude N. Pillot, Nathaniel J. Carrol, Samuel Davis, James Dickson and John Simmons.
On February 4, 1842 the Republic of Texas Supreme Court ruled that the 16 judicial counties, including Spring Creek County, were unconstitutional because they did not have separate representation in Congress. The areas of these counties were then returned to their respective parent counties. Many former judicial counties were recreated after statehood in 1845. Spring Creek County is the only one whose territory remains almost entirely within its parent counties.
Both Harris County and Montgomery County officials as well as members of their respective Historical Commissions participated in the historic marker dedication ceremony at Spring Creek Park in Tomball. We want to thank Trevia W. Beverly and Bernice Mistrot for their dedication and countless hours of research in writing the narrative for the Texas Historical Commission Marker and in granting us permission to use their research in this article.