Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

June 29, 2009

John Watson: Pool Park and a little Bosque County history

About four miles south of Clifton on Texas 6 I spotted a historical marker for “Election Oak.”

After Bosque County was formed in 1854 this oak tree was the site of one of three polling places for the first election in the county.

A driveway near the marker led through an archway that had Pool Park written across the arch.

I decided to investigate.

There were other markers inside the park. One marker gave this information: “On August 7, 1854, the first election in Bosque County was held near this site. One of three ballot boxes provided for the county was placed under this ‘Election Oak.’

‘About fifty years later Tom M. Pool moved his family to a small house under the oak. The Pool family lived here from 1899 to 1905 while their new home was being built on the mesa to the southeast. The Pool family resided at this location, later referred to as Highview, until 1968.

“In 1926 Tom and Mellie Pool deeded five acres of land surrounding the oak to the Old Settlers Association of Bosque County. During the 1920s and 1930s Bosque County residents celebrated the 4th of July here. Picnics were held, musicians played, and politicians spoke. As time and the old settlers passed, the celebrations were discontinued in the 1940s.

“The last celebration at Pool Park was held during the county’s centennial celebration in 1954, where the keynote speaker for that Old Settler’s Reunion was Dr. William C. Pool, grandson of Tom M. Pool.”

I still had not located a large old oak tree in the vicinity of the markers.

After looking around a little more, I found another marker that explained the lack of an old oak tree.

The marker stated, “In 2004 students of Bosque County school districts under the leadership of Elizabeth Torrence, chairperson of the Bosque County Historical Commission, director of the Bosque County Collection, and granddaughter of Tom M. Pool, rededicated Pool Park and ‘replanted’ a live oak to replace the original ‘Election Oak,’ which succumbed to oak wilt in 1980.”

This live oak is now about 10 feet tall and is directly behind the markers.

I turned my attention to the area across the driveway.

Here was a walk-through gateway with a sign hanging in the center stating “Bosque County.”

This was a garden-like setting with walkways meandering throughout.

Once inside the gate you find posts scattered throughout the area, each about waist high with a plaque on top.

Some of these give a short history of each town in Bosque County, including major dates of important happenings.

Below are some of the towns with the date they were founded along with the first settlers.

Kopperl — Named in honor of Moritz Kopperly of Galveston; banker and director of the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Railroad. The first post office was established in 1881.

Morgan — Samuel Nichols built the first rock house in the community in 1859.

Walnut Springs — On Oct. 6, 1860, the William Henderson Russell family, the Isaac Randell family and the Mize family established a camp one mile east of the present town of Walnut Springs.

Iredell — Founded in 1870 by Ward Keeler on a 50 acre tract of land. He named the town for his son Ira with “dell” attached because the new town lay in a valley.

Cranfills Gap — Established in 1879 and named for George Eaton Cranfill. In 1913 all the buildings were moved by steam engine to “new” Cranfills Gap.

Clifton, originally Cliff Town — Organized in 1852. In 1882 Clifton moved from the pre-railroad “old town” to the current location.

Valley Mills — In 1867 Dr. Booth and Mr. Stegall named Valley Mills and built the mill.

The Chisholm Trail went through Bosque County, and they put a statue of a miniature Texas longhorn in the center of the garden area and a marker with the following inscription:

“The Texas longhorn. A feral animal, hardy, slow of growth, muscular and powerful, with long curving horns that can reach up to eight feet in length. Originally transported from northern Africa by the Moors into Spain. They were brought to the New World by the original Conquistadores. When the Comanche drove the Spanish southward the cattle remained and flourished.”

Much of Texas could not have been settled had it not been for the windmill to pump underground water for the settlers and their livestock. There is a windmill here along with a marker with a short history of the windmill in Texas.

On one side of the garden area is a pole, covered arbor with a picnic table beneath it. This would be the perfect picnic spot in the spring before the weather got too hot or maybe in the fall before it got too cold.

Some honeysuckle bloomed near the picnic table and really made the place smell good.

As I walked through this area looking at the histories of each town in Bosque County, I thought that something like this would be great to set up at the old Wardville site to give the history of the towns in Johnson County.

John Watson is a Cleburne resident who can be reached at