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Johnson County TX
Johnson County

Cleburne Hotels


WARDVILLE, TEXAS

First county seat of Johnson County

Texas Ghost Town
Johnson County, Central Texas North

32° 19' 24.96" N, 97° 26' 50.568" W
US 67
on the W Fork of Noland’s River
About 5 Miles W of Cleburne
SW of Fort Worth

Wardville, Texas Area Hotels >
Cleburne Hotels
Wardville TX Johnson County Log Cabin Courthouse at Sunrise

First Johnson County Courthouse
"Oldest log courthouse in Texas"

Photo courtesy Johnson County Chisholm Trail Museum

History in a Pecan Shell

Named for Thomas William Ward, a Texas Revolution hero, Wardville was the first county seat of Johnson County in 1855. A post office opened that year but it closed within two years. Although it was chosen as county seat by the state legislature; it was found to be slightly off-center. State law dictated (for ease in voting) that county seats be as near the geographic center of a county as possible).

An election was held in 1856 and the winner was Buchanan, Texas – a fledgling community five miles west.

Wardville citizens relocated to Buchanan and after the post office closed, prospects for Wardville’s future were dashed.
Wardville TX Johnson County Log Cabin Courthouse in  snow

The original Johnson County log cabin courthouse in snow
Photo courtesy Johnson County Chisholm Trail Museum

Johnson County Chisholm Trail Museum

(From their website, http://www.jcchisholmtrail.com)

"It is the home of Wardville, the first county seat of Johnson County established in 1854. This was nine years after Texas became a state. Originally this was Navarro County, which ran from west of us at Glen Rose all the way to Corsicana over in east Texas. Since the only transportation was "horse or mule powered," in those days, it was difficult to do county business and the state recognized the need to divide into more and smaller counties.

William O'Neal donated eighty acres to the new county of Johnson and he and his brother built the first courthouse which is here on site and is now accepted as the oldest log courthouse in Texas. From 1854 to 1856 with Wardville as the county seat, there were twenty-nine families living between Town Branch Creek and where the courthouse is today.

The Wardville Cemetery has been located and restored. At present we have a Stage Station/Saloon representing the stage line that ran out of Cleburne and the seventeen saloons in this area during the heyday of the Chisholm Trail cattle drives. We also have the Sherrif's Office and Jail that was added in 2010. There was a jail at Wardville in 1855 and we have the jail doors from the original jail. These historic doors were used in three different jails over the years and have made their way back to their original location. The metal cell bars were used in the county work farm in 1885."
Submitted by Matthew Lee, December 21, 2017
Wardville TX - 1854 Johnson County Jail Doors

Original 1854 Johnson County Jail Doors
Photo courtesy Johnson County Chisholm Trail Museum

Historical Marker ( On US 67, 50 yds W of Cleburne city limits)
Site of Wardville

(1/4 mile south of marker) First county seat of Johnson County, chosen in Aug. 1855, and located on an 80-acre donation from William O'Neal. Named for Thomas William Ward (1807-72), a Republic of Texas soldier and second commissioner of General Land Office of Texas. The first courthouse, 16 feet square, was built by O'Neal of logs overlaid with clapboards, at cost of $49. When Wardville was found to violate Texas constitution's requirement that a county seat be within 5 miles of center of county, it was abandoned (1856). Ironically, later county line changes made it near the center.
1972


Wardville, TX 1856 postmark
Wardville, TX 1856 postmark
Cover canceled with Wardville TX 1856 postmark
Courtesy The John J. Germann Collection

More Texas Courthouses | Texas Jails | Texas Museums

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Wardville, Texas Nearby Towns:
Cleburne | Fort Worth
See Johnson County | Central Texas North

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