4
Settlement

A COUNTRY WHERE
A MAN CAN SWITCH
HIS TAIL.

Texas cowboy
expression from
the 1880s

Following the Civil War, people took up the move to Texas at the earlier pace. Between 1870 and 1880 the population almost doubled, and in the next decades the rate slackened but slightly. By the end of the century this confluence gave the Lone Star State a population of over three million and a ranking of sixth largest in the United States. By 1900 all unappropriated land was gone; the land rush was over. During these thirty years the cities, following the national trend, attracted people at an even faster rate, and the urban population increased from 7 to 17 percent of the total state population. Density became greater, from three to twelve persons per square mile. As a result, the empty spaces in the eastern and southern portions filled up, and pressure was brought on the western part of the state. This was the home of the Comanche.

The attraction of Texas was still the same—land. When it joined the Union, the state retained its public domain, 150 million acres. It used 32 million acres to subsidize railroad construction and sold nearby property to individuals for $1.50 per acre beginning in 1874. Five years later the land office lowered the price to $1.00 for acres to support schools and $.50 for others. In 1883 a state land board classified the remaining public domain into agricultural, timber, and pastoral areas. The first two categories sold for $3.00, the pastureland for $2.00. Payment periods lasted from ten to forty years, and interest rates ranged from 5 to 10 percent. Until 1899 a married man could claim a 160-acre homestead with proof of three-year residence; a single man could obtain half that amount. Land in Texas was a bargain. There was no consideration of Indian claims to the country.

During the Civil War, after troops left for the campaigns of the East, the frontier defense weakened. Exploiting this debility, Indians out of Mexico and the high plains raided and burned isolated ranches and farms. In north-central Texas, particularly Wise and Young counties, over half the settlers abandoned their homes. In Tarrant County, the location of Fort Worth, the population declined from six thousand to one thou

-79-

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