Thursday, February 24, 2011

Early County Roads Differed from Today's

Column sent to Frederick Leader and Frederick Press
May 11, 2009
Tillman County "Highway" Map, 1916

Early Map Shows Main County Roadways

When this undated highway map was printed in the Frederick Leader’s 1916 county industrial edition, the area that is Tillman County had been opened to settlement for less than 15 years. Establishment of towns and communities was still underway, and development of roads and bridges was a very different process than today.
Transportation was by horse, wagon, buggy, or early automobile. “Highways” were unpaved, and many were located very differently than today’s principle highways.
Bold lines on the map show the prominent roadways (called state highways), which total 225 miles.
No highways ran directly to the Red River and no highway bridges are shown across the Red River south of Tillman County, although a railroad bridge did cross the river southwest of Davidson.
The 1916 map shows a bridge across the North Fork west of Tipton, although it is one mile south of the current Highway 5 bridge.
The entire county was heavily populated with farm families and early settlers. Many of the 1916 highways led to areas that today are open countryside. In 1916, however, those highways would have led to established communities throughout the county.
In addition to present cities, towns that are named on the map include Isadore, Parton, Quanah, and Eschiti.
Hackberry Flat is also clearly drawn on the map southeast of Frederick.
The 1916 industrial edition described the highway system as follows:
“Tillman county is famous for its good roads, which need but little work to keep them in good condition. The county commissioners have laid out a system of state roads which will be part of the state highway system, and work is now being done at putting these roads into condition.
“All this work is done under the direction of the county engineer and the commissioners, after plans which have been approved by the state highway engineer, thus insuring the best class of bridges and the most approved roads. The bridge building problem is not a serious one in Tillman county, but where bridges are needed they will be constructed of the most lasting type, so as to afford as nearly permanent good roads as is possible.
“The above map shows the county roads as originally laid out. These have been subjected to slight changes and some additions, but his map serves to give a good conception of the extensiveness of the system in this county.”

Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society Board of Directors. He can be contacted by e-mail at

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Joe, Do you (or anyone) know where a place called Crossroads might have been located? Jack Abernathy of "Catchem' Alive" fame referred many times in his autobiography and/or memoirs to his ranch and home in the Crossroads community NW of Frederick maybe 15 miles. My ancestors just across the Northfork River wrote in their memoirs about a Mrs. Abernathy who would cross the river (probably on the Roberts or Boyd Ferry) to teach the Wilson kids music lessons on the piano that I think they bought from Jack--maybe around 1910. I've been reading Jack's book "In Camp with Teddy Roosevelt or The Life of John R.(Jack) Abernathy" published in 1933. This book is packed with interesting Tillman County and state history. Thanks for any information, Randy Wilson.