The Birdville Historical Society (BHS) is a non-profit organization whose main purpose is to aid in the collection, preservation and presentation of local history and to promote historical awareness within the community. The Society aims to discover and preserve for posterity the history of the Birdville area — its cities, streets, buildings, and people.
- Board Of Directors
- President: Betty Porter
- First Vice President: Pat Davenport
- Second Vice President: Bob Watkins
- Secretary: Fran Burns
During the Republic of Texas days, the area of present-day Tarrant County was located within the Robertson District. Tarrant County was created in 1849 being carved from Navarro County consisting of 898 square miles of gently sloping to level terrain. The Trinity River is the major watercourse and flows from the northwest to the southeast across the county, with the Clear Fork and the West Fork draining the western half and other smaller tributaries draining in eastern half.
The northeast area of Tarrant County abounded with large and small creeks feeding into the Trinity River, rolling grasslands, with rich clayey and loamy soil, with portions consisting of shallow loamy and alternate layers of limestone and marl. Throughout the region were found blackjack oak, live oak, and hardwoods such as American elm, pecan and box elders along the creeks and the river. Exposed rock formations in the area are almost exclusively of the Cretaceous period. Mineral resources consisted of sand, gravel, and stone. Buffalo, deer, wolves, and other native wildlife roamed the area. The buffalo would water in and along the Trinity River, then travel toward the area later known as Sandy Land (present location of the southern extension of Beach Street from Belknap). Within this deep, sandy soil, the buffalo would wallow in the sand to dry and cleanse their long, hairy coating. The weather was found to be moderate with an average low of 35 degrees to an average high of 96 degrees. Average rainfall was a little more than thirty-two inches per year, and the growing season extending for a good 230 days out of 365.
Native Americans living on the land
The environment was ideal for camps of various Indian tribes; providing food, clothing and shelter. The earliest tribes thought to have been in the area were the Tonkawas and the Hasinai Caddos. By the late 1700s, the Comanche, Kiowa, and Wichita tribes had also moved into the region.
When the first few white settlers came, they clashed with the native population. The Battle of Village Creek, in 1841, was the first major military conflict led by Gen. Edward H. Tarrant. He seized and destroyed three Indian villages. As a result of his efforts, as well as others, the area cleared the permanent Indian settlements from the area, yet the Comanche and Kiowa continued their intrusions into the 1870s. In the fall of 1841, General Tarrant ordered a military outpost built near Village Creek. Fort Bird (most call it Bird’s Fort) was named after Capt. Jonathan Bird. The fort was abandoned in less than a year because of threatened Comanche attacks. At this site, in 1843, a treaty negotiation dividing the area between the Anglo settlers and the Indians was signed. Many of the immigrants, who settled within the area, gave up and left due to the Indian attacks and depredations. Veterans returning from the Civil War found most of their stock gone, and homes and barns damaged or destroyed. Most started over rebuilding or repairing their homesteads as well as their assets thus becoming the icons of progression in the growth of the northeastern part of the county. Independent and determined, they were survivors.
Tarrant County Seat
After the Treaty of Bird’s Fort in 1843, immigrants from Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky began to enter the territory. The Texas Congress recognized the opportunity to settle the western frontier of Texas and offered large grants to companies such as the Peters Land Company to entice additional settlers into the area. In 1845, a group from Missouri settled to the south of the present northern Tarrant County line (present-day Southlake area), with another group founding Birdville on the banks of Big Fossil Creek.
As these settlements grew, the need for military protection was evident due to the never-ending, sporadic Indian raids. In 1849, Major Ripley Arnold chose a site at the conflux of the Clear Fork and West Fork of the Trinity River, naming the post Camp Worth, honoring Gen. William Jenkins Worth of Mexican War fame. CampWorth was later officially named Fort Worth. With the protection of the fort, many settlers chose to make their homes close by.
The Texas Legislature was beginning to take notice of the western expansion of their state. On December 20, 1849, they carved a new county out of a portion of the existing Navarro County. This new county was founded with Birdville, Texas, being the county seat with the selected site being the most center location of the county. The county was named after General Tarrant who had “cleared” the area of Indians. Tarrant County was formally organized in August of 1850, when the first elections were held.
The 1850 census of Tarrant County showed a population of 499 whites, including the many soldiers stationed within the fort, and sixty-five slaves. By 1860 the number of whites had grown to 5,170 with the number of slaves increasing to 850. The fastest growing area was in the northeastern portion of the county.