Jacksboro, Texas: Legendary Land of Soldiers, Cowboys, and Indians on the Violent Frontier

Jul 8, 2022
Newspaper photo of Jack County Court House, 1870-1885
The courthouse where Satanta and Big Tree were tried for murder July 5-6, 1871.

Jacksboro has lived up to its two "name sakes": brothers William and Patrick Jack, who twice attacked Mexican garrisons in Texas' revolt against Mexico. Both were slave holders and fought to maintain the institution in Texas. In fact, Colonel Juan Bradburn, Mexican commander of a fort being built to force the Texas planters to pay taxes on goods, imported and exported, lit a fuse under the resolve of the Texicans to maintain control over their slaves by taking a slave of one of the Jack brothers and putting him to work on the fort. When William B. Travis, attorney for the brothers, insisted that Bradburn release their property, Bradburn replied that the slave in question would be freed by the Mexican army. To this Travis objected and was promptly arrested. The Jack brothers, along with James Bowie, led the assault on the fort and the seizure of Colonel Bradburn. Only the fortuitous intervention of Stephen F. Austin, in the company of a Mexican officer who outranked Bradburn, kept the Texicans from "stringing up" the Kentuckian colonel serving in the Mexican army. Instead of being hanged by the angry Texicans, Bradburn was ordered back to Mexico by his superior officer.

Jack County, though named in honor of the Jack brothers who fought the Mexican army to maintain slavery, voted against secession in 1860. An intense belief in freedom for the individual, along with an innate desire to "make good" on the violent frontier, drove the first citizens of Jacksboro to brave attacks from Comanches and Kiowas who claimed the land as their own. Jack County men were rugged types. Inspector General of the Army, Randolph Marcy, who accompanied General William T. Sherman on an inspection of the frontier in 1871, observed of the Texans in the Jacksboro area," they expose women and children singly on the road and in cabins far off from others as if they were safe in Illinois. If the Comanches don't steal horses, it is because they can't be tempted." read more