Nestled in the valleys of the San Antonio River and the Cibolo Creek, in the area which became Wilson County, Neo-Americans, now known as Native Americans lived and raised their families. The sub-tropical - sub-humid climate offered an abundance of native plants to eat, which, in turn attracted wild animals for these early Texans who were able to adapt to the local environment.
Spain claimed Texas for some three hundred years. Spanish explorers were sent to Texas and missionaries went with them. They wanted to establish missions, teach the Native Americans Christianity, and teach them a trade so they could live productive lives in a Spanish settlement.
Most counties begin with a county seat that remains in the same location. Wilson County had difficulty deciding on a county seat and it moved several times before it settled into a permanent position. The area we know today as Wilson County was a part of Bexar County and the county seat was in San Antonio, Texas. In 1855 Dr. John Sutherland of Sutherland Springs and a veteran of the Texas Revolution, sent petitions to the Texas Legislature asking this body to form a new county from portions of Bexar and Karnes counties. The act to create said county was approved by the Texas State Legislature on February 13, 1860. It was named Wilson County after James Wilson, an Englishman who came to Texas in the 1830s. He survived the ill-fated Mier Expedition and became a state senator. The
Texas Legislature defined the boundaries of the county in the
Laws of Texas, Section 1:
“Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Texas, That all the territory comprised within, the following limits shall be created into a new county to be called Wilson – beginning on the west bank of the Cibolo, at the mouth of the Martinez Creek; thence on a straight line to the north east corner of Atascosa county line, hence south 39 degrees east with Atascosa line to the northwest corner of Karnes County; thence same course continued four and three quarter miles along the said Karnes County line; thence north 51 degrees east to the south-west boundary line, of Gonzales County; thence north 39 degrees west with Gonzales County line to the south-east boundary line of Guadalupe county; thence south with said line to the Cibolo; thence up the Cibolo with its meanders to the place of beginning.”
The Texas State Legislature appointed Dr. G.J Houston, of Sutherland Springs, to act as commissioner. He was instructed to organize the new county. It was his duty to order an election to elect county officers. The date of this election was to be published in the county. When the returns of the election were in, Dr. Houston was to issue certificates of election to the persons elected and to administer the oath of office to them in due form. Dr. Houston ordered an election for county officers. William Sutherland was elected Chief Justice. The county commissioners and other county officers were elected, and Dr. Houston administered the oath of office to them. The Wilson County Commissioner’s Court met in Creed Taylor’s concrete house in Sutherland Springs. Rent for this court house was set at $8.50 per month. The commissioners were instructed to establish a jail, a school and provide grounds for a cemetery.
The Texas Legislature stated that the county seat was to be in the center of the county. Sutherland Springs was not in the center and therefore served as temporary county seat until a permanent county seat could be obtained. The Texas Legislature had clearly stipulated in The Laws of Texas, Section 4:
“It shall be the duty of the court of Wilson County to ascertain by means of a plat and certificate from the General Land Office, under the seal of the same duly authenticated, the center of said new county, and select two or more sites nearest the center of said new county, having respect for any donation of land, that may be made for that purpose, as well as convenience of water, and when so selected the Chief Justice of said county shall order an election to fix said county seat.”
In the time frame of Wilson County’s creation, the mode of travel was horseback, wagon or buggy. The county seat needed to be in a central location, so that the law makers could travel to it in a timely manner. Floresville was not in existence at that time but Lodi, located on the San Antonio and La Bahia Road, was a thriving, dynamic, trade community on the San Antonio River. It was a larger community and nearer to the center of the county than Sutherland Springs. The court was petitioned to establish the Lodi and Sutherland Springs Road in 1860. It was established in 1861. The well traveled road was a link between these two important communities. The distance traveled from one community to the other was lengthy and several camp sites developed along this road. One such campsite was located on the Coldeway Ranch. It had the space for people in wagons to stop and the necessary water for people and their draft animals. People in wagons, buggies or horseback could camp for lunch or for the night, and ride on the next morning. The county seat also traveled back and forth between Sutherland Springs and Lodi several times.
Wilson County was very new when the American Civil War began. Texas flew the confederate flag and many able bodied men in the county fought under this banner. The Wilson County Commissioner’s Court met in Sutherland Springs and the business of the county was carried out. Roads were designated, taxes were paid and court cases were tried. The business of finding a permanent county seat was put on hold. It was not exactly business as usual, but the court did the best it could and waited for the war to end.
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