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SILVERTON, TX

SILVERTON, TEXAS. Silverton, the county seat of Briscoe County, is on State Highway 86 in the central part of the county. In August 1890 Thomas J. Braidfoot filed claim on the section of land that would later contain Silverton. He soon built a house in the area. In the spring of the following year he and his associates, most of whom had arrived from Della Plain in Floyd County, formed a townsite company. The name, submitted by his wife, was reportedly derived from the silvery reflections of the shallow lakes in the area. A post office, three stores, a blacksmith shop, and a school were established by the fall of 1891. Thomas J. Briscoe started the first newspaper, the Silverton Light. When the county was organized, a special election was held on March 15, 1892, in which Silverton beat out two rival townsites, Linguish and Tarlton, as the county seat. A two-story, frame courthouse was erected in 1893. The following year a jail built of stone from Tule Canyon was completed; its first occupant was the county sheriff, Miner Crawford, who was jailed as a joke during the opening ceremony. Tom Braidfoot's two-story house served as the town's first hotel. A community church was used by various denominations until they built their own houses of worship.

Silverton quickly prospered as a trade center for area ranchers and farmers. The population was 400 in 1900 and 500 in 1910. The first bank was opened in 1909, and a new brick schoolhouse was constructed in 1911. The town has had several newspapers, including the Silverton Enterprise and the Silverton Star. The present paper, the Briscoe County News, has been in operation since 1912. The present county courthouse was built in 1922. Mail was brought to Silverton from Tulia by stagecoach before 1928, and later by automobile. In 1928 the town became the northern terminus of the Fort Worth and Denver South Plains Railway from Lubbock. Silverton was subsequently incorporated, and it grew. Natural gas was introduced in 1929 by the West Texas Gas Company. By 1940 Silverton had thirty-five businesses and a population of 684.

Throughout its history Silverton has suffered from prairie fires, grasshoppers, dust storms, and cyclones. Its worst disaster occurred on the night of May 15, 1957, when a tornado killed twenty-one people and did over $1 million worth of damage. The citizens quickly rebuilt, and Silverton has continued as an agribusiness center. Clay products and irrigation supplies are manufactured locally. The population increased from 857 in 1950 to 1,164 in 1964 but has declined since then. In 1985 the town had a hospital and a clinic. A new junior high school building was built in the late 1970s. The Briscoe County Historical Society operates a small museum in the county courthouse basement. A small airfield is located east of town, and Haynes Boy Scout Camp is in the canyon breaks eight miles to the east. The annual Briscoe County Birthday celebration is held on the second weekend in August. In 1984 Silverton had a population of 918 and twenty-seven businesses. In 1990 the population was 779. The population was 771 in 2000.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Briscoe County Historical Survey Committee, Footprints of Time in Briscoe County (Dallas: Taylor, 1976). F. Stanley [Stanley F. L. Crocchiola], The Silverton, Texas, Story (Nazareth, Texas, 1975).

H. Allen Anderson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

H. Allen Anderson, "SILVERTON, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hls48), accessed September 19, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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