History

Mansfield Timeline

1853 - Charles Turner, first known settler in the Mansfield area, establishes a saw or grist mill.

1854 - Walnut Creek Cumberland Presbyterian Church is organized.

1856 - Mr. Ralph S. Man and Mr. Julian Feild come to this area to build a grist mill, and Mr. Feild purchases 540 acres. Between 1856 and 1859 they build their mill on the land that is now at the southwest corner of East Broad Street and South Main Street (currently a restaurant). The mill, which produces flour and meal, is the first built in North Texas to utilize steam power and enjoys patronage as far south as San Antonio and as far north as Oklahoma. Across Broad St. from the mill, Feild builds and operates a general merchandising store, the first of its kind in Mansfield. He also builds a log cabin inn by his home (near Broad St. and First Ave.) which provides lodging for mill customers and other travelers. His wife, Henrietta, manages the inn.

By 1860 the nucleus of the community has formed around the mill location. It is being referred to as Mansfeild (spelled F-E-I-L-D). The first postmaster in town is Julian Feild. When people start sending their mail to Mansfeild they continue to spell it Mansfield, so by popular demand the town changes the name to Mansfield.

1860 - First general merchandising store is established.

1861-1865 - Mansfield citizens fight in the Civil War. Records show that 123 Mansfield men joined leaving only 2 men under the age of 45 in town. The Man and Feild Mill supplies meal and flour to the Confederate States Army, hauling it to Shreveport, Louisiana, and Jefferson City, Missouri. Mansfield is unique in that it prospers during this difficult time while surrounding communities experience a downturn in growth.

1861 - John L. Wyatt, Mansfield's first banker/moneylender, begins his business.

1866 - Texas ranchers pioneered the Chisolm Trail, and other cattle trails, to take their beef to market at the Kansas railheads.

1867 - The city fathers invite the Reverend Doctor John Collier, a Presbyterian minister, to come to Mansfield and establish an educational facility for the community. Dr. Collier agrees, but insists that the city meet two requirements: 1) that Dr. Collier and his family be provided with housing, and 2) that the city be platted and registered with the County Clerk's Office. Having the city platted and registered will give it a sense of permanence for his school, and this was accomplished in 1870.

1868 - Julian Field donates the land for the building of the Walnut Creek Congregation, Cumberland Presbyterian.

1869 - Upon the encouragement of the town, John Collier establishes a coeducational school: Mansfield Male and Female College.

1869 - The Trans-Continental railroad is completed. Railroads are about to revolutionize America.

1870 - Dr. Collier opens the Mansfield Male/Female College on the property where the Mansfield Independent School District administration offices are located today. Survey and plat of Mansfield town site drawn by John Peter Smith.

1871 - The Salt Creek Massacre, also known as the Warren Wagon Train Raid, occurs on May 18, 1871.

1877 - Dr. Collier builds a two-story house on the western edge of the college campus. He and his family occupy the lower floor while the upper floor houses the female educators and students. Today, his house is occupied by Blessing Funeral Home at 401 East Elm Street.

1880 - Mansfield population reaches 249.

1882 - James "Squire" Grimsley is Justice of the Peace. It is said that Judge Roy Bean, who dispenses law west of the Pecos, had nothing over Squire Grimsley. The Squire cannot be bothered with technicalities, and dispenses justice without any frills. He is thought to be fair, is probably ignorant of all the legal twists and turns, but relies on his sense of right and wrong. When faced with a crowded docket, he would hold night sessions, usually on a crate by candlelight.

1883 - The "Mansfield Chronicle" begins publication. Later named the Mansfield News-Mirror, it is now the oldest newspaper in Tarrant County.

1883 - The First Baptist Church is founded.

1884 - City population reaches 400. Many families move in from Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi, many to escape the turmoil of Reconstruction.

1885 - The railroad trestle is built. Now, it is one of the oldest operating trestles in the state and is one of the most visited sites of interest in Mansfield.

1886 -The railroad comes to town. The small surrounding communities then became dependent on Mansfield as a point of commerce. Cotton was king, and many bales were transported from Mansfield via railroad.

1887 - Dr. Collier purchases Marvin College in Waxahachie and closes the Mansfield Male and Female College.

1887-1901 Private schools were conducted, coupled with the public school. The first church built in Mansfield is the Cumberland Presbyterian church. It is built at the corner of Church Street (which is now N. Walnut Creek Dr.) and East Broad Street - approximately in right field of the current Geyer baseball field.

1890 - Mansfield is incorporated on August 23rd. It is described in the Texas State Gazetteer as having four churches, two schools, two mills, a cotton gin and numerous retail businesses. Population is 418.

1894 - In June, crews drilling for water in Corsicana, TX struck oil  instead, starting a huge drilling boom. From this boom came a company today called Mobile.

1897 - Julian Feild passes away on September 7th. Citizens of Mansfield organize the Mansfield Academy Association and begin building a two story brick building plus two other brick buildings and a dormitory. Mansfield Volunteer Fire Department is established.

1898 - The Spanish-American War 

1899 - The McKnight building is completed.

1900 - city population is 700 

1901 - Mansfield Academy is opened.

1901 - President McKinley is assassinated.Theodore Roosevelt becomes President of the United States.

1902 - The neighboring town of Lillian is started.

1903 - Wright brothers first flight.

1905 - Joseph Edwards installs the first telephone lines in town. The switchboard was located in the McKnight building. 

1906 - Mansfield State Bank is chartered. 

1906 - Ralph Man passes on Nov. 18th. 

1909 - The Mansfield Independent School District is incorporated. In September, the first classes of the new District are held in the old Mansfield Academy buildings which were purchased by MISD.

1910 - On October 11th, the city passes an ordinance to prevent autos from exceeding 10 miles per hour and also prevent persons from riding their bicycles on the sidewalks. 

1914 - Mansfield is a bustling small town, with buildings designed in the current, most popular architectural style. Many small towns in Texas, with surviving historical downtown areas, look very similar in style. 

1917 - The USA enters into World War I in April.

1917 - Mr. Milton Farr builds the first electric light plant and installs the first electric lights on Water Street (future Main Street). He rents a building in downtown and opens the Farr Best Theater. The theater features Friday and Saturday movie nights and matinees.

1922 - A terrible flood hits Mansfield and surrounding cities, leaves 13 dead and 35 missing in the area.  In Mansfield, flood waters pushes Walnut Creek totally out of its banks. It destroys bridges, tracks and many rail cars, but the railroad bridge by North Street is left intact. (Image from Museum collection.)

1924 - The cornerstone is laid for the new MISD school in September. When completed, the school houses white students grades 1-11 until 1953, when a new elementary school is built. The building was then occupied by grades 9-11.

1924 - Famous singer Ella Mae Morse born on Sept. 12.

1924 - Texas elected its first woman governor, Miriam "Ma" Ferguson.

1925 - The sewage treatment plant is built. That location is now used as the north soccer field in Hardy Allmon park.

1926 - Mr. Farr installs Mansfield's first sewer system, and natural gas was supplied to business and residential area of town.

1927 - The first movie with synchronized dialogue is released. It is dubbed a "talkie". 

1929 - The city library is established.

1929 - The Stock Market Crash (or financial collapse) in October signals the beginning of the ten-year-long Great Depression in the USA and in all Western industrialized countries.

1940 - In May, construction begins on The Rock Gym, as W.P.A. project #40541. It is budgeted for $18,238.00, including a gym and two class rooms for Mansfield High School.

1940 - State Highway 34 was changed to Highway 287.

December 7, 1941 - Japan attacks the American naval and air bases at Pearl Harbor, HI. The next day, America declares war on Japan and so enters World War II.

1949 - Dial telephones are introduced.

1952 - The City Council hires a night watchman for $150/month.

1953 - Railroad depot closes. Mr. W. E. Marshall, the second and last depot agent, locks the doors for the last time.

1954 - The US Supreme Court rules on segregation in the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case. Click HERE to read more on this subject.

1954 - The fine for driving without a license was raised from $5 to $10.

1954 - The Mansfield City council hires its first Police Chief. It is a low-paying job and the Chief has to furnish his own car. 

1956 - The city purchases its first police vehicle, a 1956 Chevrolet 4–door sedan, for $1,542. A few months later, the police radio is installed. Dispatching was done out of the Chief’s home by his wife.

1956 - The Mansfield Desegregation Incident leads to the passage of Texas desegregation laws in 1957. Click HERE to read more on this subject.

1956 - A page from a local news broadcast carries the story of the new Mansfield City Hall and fire station. This City Hall is built on the site of the original Man & Feild feed mill (corner of Broad Street & Main Street, now a restaurant).

1958 - Kow Bell arena is established.William H. (Bill) Hogg, a lifetime resident of Mansfield, opened the Kow Bell Indoor Rodeo in 1959. Rodeos were held each Saturday night, year around.

1958 - On September 8th, the City Council votes to change the name of Water Street to Main Street. 

1963 - A new high school is built. Grades 7 and 8 remain in the old school building.

1963 - President Kennedy is assassinated on November 22.

1967 - MISD integrated. Click HERE to read more on this subject.

1974 - As the Dallas-Fort Worth area grew, the population of Mansfield increased from 1,375 in 1961 to 5,000 by 1974, when employees working in the larger neighboring cities transformed the town from a rural community into a modern suburb. Civic leaders promoted Mansfield and allowed graduate students from the Institute of Urban Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington to renovate the downtown area in the early 1970's.

1980-1990 - City population reaches 8,000.

1990-2000 - City population reaches 15,615.

2000 - City population reaches 28,031.

2010 - City population reaches 56,368.

2013 - The City builds the MISD Performing Arts Center.

2015 - Mansfield celebrates 125 years of incorporation with a variety of events and ceremonies throughout the year. The logo for this anniversary is the Museum's own McKnight Building.

The Historical Society

The Mansfield Historical Society was formed in 1970 with the express purpose of collecting, investigating and preserving the richness of our southern heritage, specifically genealogical, biographical and historical data about the Mansfield community and its residents.