Parker County Today May 2017 - Page 35

I Parker County Postal Map 1920s 1857. The newcomer soon began construction on a steam-flouring mill on North Main in Weatherford. Smythe wrote it was the first mill in the county. “…One year after, the mill was completed and began its operations with a first grist of corn,” Smythe wrote. “This was an event of consid- erable importance, because steam was, for the first time, introduced into manufactures in this then remote section of the country. The near- est mill was Witt’s, seventy-three miles east of Weatherford. That mill supplied all west of it, except the flour obtained at Jefferson and some small towns east.” Smythe assured, at the time of his writing, the mill on North Main was still a going concern with “three run of stone, with capacity for three more.” He said a 60-horse-power engine powered the mill. Meanwhile, with things looking up and commerce seemingly taking root along the banks of the Clear Fork in Cartersville, by 1888 the town’s 75 residents were granted a post office and officially adopted the name “Carter.” Carter held on longer than many rural communities in Parker of Weatherford, Carter sprouted the year after the Civil War battlefields fell silent and the seceding states (including Texas) had been dragged back into a union they so wanted to escape. Unreconstructed Southerners were about to pay the price for their secessionist ideas and actions — Reconstruction stood at the door and had no intention of knocking. Hard times. On the cusp of this return to “a more perfect union,” in 1866-67, a Judge W.F. Carter and two partners — T. Parkinson and H.C. Vardy — established the community, building a flourmill on the banks of Clear Fork Creek. Soon the settlement boasted its own cotton gin, general store and blacksmith shop and a school and church, as well. Statewide recogni- tion came to Carter in 1873 when the State Fair of Texas in Houston judged its flour the best in the state. 
Judge Carter apparently arrived in Texas 10 years before starting the creek-bank community. According to Henry Smythe’s 1877 book, Historical Sketch of Parker County and Weatherford, Texas, Judge W.F. Carter came from New York, arriv- ing in Parker County in November, ’ve always been fascinated by towns or communities that once were, yet are no more — or if they are, there is little proof. These are places where, despite human indus- try, things just didn’t pan out. For one reason or another, folks who’d banded together to make a town just couldn’t make a go of it. Perhaps the railroad didn’t come. In the late 19th and early 20th centu- ries, rerouting tracks around a fledg- ling community sounded the death knell. Upstart towns often picked up and moved a few miles to where the railroad ended up, to the place lucrative considerations and conces- sions had drawn the iron tracks like a magnet. Or maybe the Indians were too wild, unwilling to abandon their generations-old traditions for some new “White Way.” The Texas fron- tier often retreated eastward when Comanche and Kiowa warriors took to the warpath to raid and pillage, and sometimes to kill those who had the audacity to stake claims on their traditional hunting grounds, to try and own the land. Even those tribes that initially tolerated white settle- ment recoiled once they learned the true meaning of “Manifest Destiny.” A sure sign a community had designs on the future was the acquirement of a post office, that citadel of communication that “neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night…” could hinder. If you had a post office, well, you were someplace. Trick was (and it seemed like a dirty trick) if not enough folks hung around to justify the post office, there were no qualms about clos- ing the doors. Some opened only to close a few months later, while others struggled on for a few years, and still others managed to, if not thrive, at least survive. Industrialization and harsh weath- er stamped out many a rural commu- nity, chased people off the farms and into the cities and larger towns where jobs could be had and droughts were somebody else’s problem. One North Cent [\\[B[][]HؘXHۛۈ[B[\ܞHY\\\܂\\ݚ[H \\[JH\]\›ܚY[[Hۛۋ[Z[\ܝ