The dissenting vote
It was the court that wasn’t, not really, helping establish the town that wasn’t, not really.
And somebody had the audacity to vote no.
You just have to love Texas.
The records are in a minute book tucked away in a set of records called Commissioner’s Court records, part of the digital image database entitled “Mills County Clerk Records, 1841-1985” on FamilySearch.
Now you have to figure that’s going to be pretty near irresistable to The Legal Genealogist, right?
So I started poking around, and right at the beginning of volume 2 are records from May 1895, and an election to incorporate the town of Mullin, Texas, for school purposes.
The story starts at the beginning of May 1895 when A.V. Logan, Judge of the County Court of Mills County, Texas, received a petition from 28 residents of the area asking for an election to incorporate the town of Mullin.1
They represented that they were all qualified electors of Mills County and of the area to be incorporated, that the area had more than 200 inhabitants, and they wanted an election to incorporate for school purposes. And they attached a survey of the boundaries of the town they wanted incorporated. 2
The Judge accepted the petition, ordered that the election be held on May 21st, appointed John J. Cox to preside over the election and ordered the sheriff to post notices.3
Some 38 people turned out to vote at that May 21 election… and the results were overwhelming: 37 votes for incorporating for school purposes, and one against. All 38 voters were identified by name; the lone dissenter in the balloting wasn’t named.4
So… a court that wasn’t? A town that wasn’t?
Let’s look at this.
A commissioner’s court in 1895 Texas — and today as well — really isn’t a court at all. Since the adoption of the Constitution of 1876:
The commissioners’ court has none of the functions of a court but is the general governing body of the county. It establishes a courthouse and jail, appoints numerous minor officials such as the county health officer, fills vacancies in the county offices, lets contracts in the name of the county, builds and maintains roads and bridges, administers the county’s public welfare services, performs numerous duties in regard to elections, sets the county tax rate, issues bonds, adopts the county budget, and serves as a board of equalization for tax assessments.5
And Mullin, Texas, wasn’t really becoming a town. It was just setting up a structure whereby the locals would have control over the schools, they could receive its share of school funds from the State Board of Education, and they’d “have the right to levy and collect taxes and issue bonds for school purposes.”6
Truth be told, there weren’t all that many people in Mullin — there aren’t all that many today:
Mullin, on Mullin Creek, U.S. Highway 84/183, Farm Road 573, and the Santa Fe line, ten miles north of Goldthwaite in west central Mills County, became a townsite with the construction of the Santa Fe track through the area in the late 1880s. Both the creek and the town were named for a pioneer family. Among the first businesses in the area were a saloon and a hotel in 1885. Dr. W. D. Kirkpatrick donated the townsite in return for the construction of the railroad through the area. The population of Mullin was 100 in 1890; in 1894 the first permanent schoolhouse was built. A gristmill and cotton gin were among the early businesses. By 1910 the town had three churches, a bank, a weekly newspaper named the Enterprise, and 750 residents. The population fell to 558 by 1920 and 404 by 1947. In 1958 there were only two stores left in the community. The population was 213 in 1980, 194 in 1990 and 175 in 2000.7
That’s not to say Mullin isn’t a town today. It is. With its own website. Where you will learn that “If you’re looking for a small town with a big heart, you’ve come to the right place. At Mullin we have strong family values and individual commitment you’ll come to expect and enjoy.” And that City Hall is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. By appointment only.
Now… doesn’t it make you wish you knew who voted against that incorporation? And why?
In the town that wasn’t, in an election ordered by the court that wasn’t…
As I said, you just have to love Texas.
- Mills County, Texas, Commissioner’s Court Minute Book 2: 1, May Term 1895; digital images, “Mills County Clerk Records, 1841-1985,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 12 Nov 2013). ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- Ibid., Minute Book 2: 6, Orders of Judge Logan, 8 May 1895. ↩
- Ibid., Minute Book 2: 10, report of John J. Cox. ↩
- Dick Smith, “County Commissioners’ Court,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/ : accessed 12 Nov 2013). ↩
- §154, in The School Laws of Texas, 1891 (Austin : Texas State School Superintendent, 1891), 63; digital images, Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 12 Nov 2013). ↩
- William R. Hunt, “Mullin, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/ : accessed 12 Nov 2013). ↩