Cooke County Records, 1849-1942Add to your cart.

Collection Overview

Title: Cooke County Records, 1849-1942Add to your cart.
Predominant Dates: 1870-1929
ID: 01/ AR077
Extent: 306.0 Volumes
Arrangement: Materials are arranged by series.
Languages: English


A collection of historical county ledgers from Cooke County, Texas.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Contains county and city ledgers related to financial matters, board minutes, registrations, convict labour, the criminal and civil dockets, property records, tax rolls, and mortgage records.

Part of the Cooke County Ledgers are comprised of Convict Labor Records from 1879 to 1891; Criminal Docket Records from 1857 to 1908; Minute Books from the District and Criminal Courts, 1880 to1904; the Sherriff's Fee Book from 1873 to 1874; Records from the Justice of the Peace inquests, 1888 to 1919; Fugitive Records from the District Court, 1865 to 1908; the Jail Register from 1897 to 1910; and Pauper Records from 1895 to 1905.

Collection Historical Note

Cooke County is located in north central Texas on the border with Oklahoma. Gainesville, the county seat and largest population center, is located seven miles south of the Red River and seventy-one miles north of Dallas. The county was established in 1848 by an act of the Texas legislature and was named for William G. Cooke, a hero of the Texas Revolution. The boundaries of the original county encompassed its present area, along with land that later became Montague, Wise, Clay, and Jack counties. Cooke County assumed its present boundaries in 1857. It is crossed by several early historic trails, including the Chisholm Trail and the Butterfield Overland Mail route. The southern and eastern parts of the county were settled by people primarily from Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri. The western part had only scattered settlements prior to the late nineteenth century, when German land speculators founded the towns of Muenster in 1889 and Lindsay in 1891.

The earliest settlers brought slaves with them, but not in the numbers that accompanied migrants from the Deep South to East Texas. The slave population of Cooke County in 1860 was 369, which was almost 11% of the total population. Although in 1861 the county's citizens voted more than 61% against secession, there was much sentiment for the Confederacy. In October of 1862, forty-two men were executed in Cooke County because they were believed to have participated in a pro-Union conspiracy (The Great Hanging.) Throughout its history, Cooke County has been heavily agricultural. Cattle, corn, oats, wheat, and cotton all were produced on the farms of Cooke County. Almost 15 years after the end of the Civil War, farmers were able to export their goods on the train. The Denison and Pacific Railway (later the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad) reached Gainesville in 1879 and the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe connected Gainesville to Denton on January 2, 1887, on its way to meet the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe at Purcell, Indian Territory.

The population of Cooke County has grown very slowly. The 1880 census counted 20,391 inhabitants. By 1980, there were 27,656 people living in the county. [Most of this information is from the Handbook of Texas Online.] The county records in this collection were generated by the Cooke County Courts, the offices of the Justice of the Peace and the Sheriff, and the Civil Courts.

Access Information

Access Restrictions:

This collection is not restricted.

Use Restrictions:

Reproduction and publication of materials in this collection are subject to the policies of the UNT Special Collections department. Copyright restrictions may apply.

Physical Access Note:

This collection is stored off-site and requires a minimum of 24 hours notice prior to use.

Reading Room or Duplication Requests

Depending on any access restrictions noted above, you may be able to request items be delivered to our reading room, or that we make reproductions for you. Just click on either the or icons in the listings below to be routed to our request form.

Administrative Information

Repository: Manuscripts
Related Materials: Digital surrogates of items from this collection are available in the Portal to Texas History. For more information please see
Preferred Citation: Cooke County Records, University of North Texas Special Collections
Finding Aid Revision History: March 2018 by Nicole Yatsonsky - fixed dates, wrote Abstract, modified Scope/Content, and added Historical Note from previous version of finding aid


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