In this Old Cemetery Rests the First Judge of Tom Green County
SAN ANGELO, TX — Tom Green County was established exactly 144 years ago today, March 13, 1874 and the Tom Green County Historical Commission presented a portrait of the first County Judge and a vintage map of the original county to the Commissioner’s Court Tuesday morning.
Tom Green County was originally much larger and was divided by the Texas Legislature and is now 13 West Texas Counties. Tom Green County was larger than Massachusetts and Connecticut combined and included the area of the modern counties of Coke, Crane, Ector, Glasscock, Irion, Loving, Midland, Reagan, Sterling, Upton, and Ward according to the Texas State Historical Association.
Above: Francis Corbett Taylor headstone in Ben Ficklin Cemetery.
Local photographer Jim Bean joined Historical Commission Chair Golda Foster in presenting a portrait of Francis Corbett Taylor, the first County Judge in Tom Green County. Taylor and his wife both passed away in 1879 and were buried in the Ben Ficklin Cemetery. The flood of 1882 that killed 65 people also washed the cemetery away in Ben Ficklin. Taylor and his wife’s remains were re-interred in the Ben Ficklin Cemetery located on the map below.
As a result of the Ben Ficklin flood, the county seat was moved to San Angelo. The first Tom Green County Courthouse was built in 1884. It was torn down and the courthouse we all know today was built in 1928.
The county’s unique shape came about because of state law on the creation of counties. Tom Green County has a long, narrow strip of land extending to the west, often referred to as a "panhandle." This feature is because what today is Reagan County to the west formerly was part of Tom Green County, and the state of Texas required that all counties have a contiguous land route to their county seat. Therefore, the small strip of land served to connect the two main regions. In 1903, the residents of the western section voted to form their own county (Reagan County), while in the same vote it was decided that the connecting strip would remain as part of Tom Green County.
Editor's note: Every March, the city commemorates Fairmount Cemetery. We are honored to have Harper Funeral Home sponsor our articles commemorating this historic piece of our community. And although the first Tom Green County Judge is still buried in Ben Ficklin, many of the graves at the old Ben Ficklin Cemetery were transferred to Fairmount.