Mansfield Timeline





  This timeline is a quick sprint through the history of Mansfield, including events in the state and nation that helped shape the city and its residents. We will be expanding it with new milestones on a regular basis.  -
    Late Prehistoric Period, Middle Phase      
Prior to this time there was no evidence of people inhabiting the area on a permanent basis. There is evidence of hunting and gathering over hundreds of years, but use of sites was probably less than two months. There is evidence of a horticultural community dating between A.D. 1000 and 1200 in the Joe Pool Lake area. The presence of Caddoan-like pottery and evidence of a small village and corn horticulture suggests that a group of Caddoan people settled in this area for a few years only. (Stock image)

Caddo spearpoint
    Late Prehistoric Period, Late Phase      
  Occupation appears to be less intense than the Caddoan settlement of 300 years earlier. In summary the prehistoric investigations of the Joe Pool Lake area have demonstrated that small groups of hunters and gatherers used the area only seasonally during most of the prehistoric period.(Stock image)  
Caddo pottery
1528   Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca and shipwrecked crew arrive near Galveston Island.     

Conquistador Juan de Oñate officially claims all the land drained by the Rio Grande as Spanish territory. With this act, the foundation is laid for two centuries of Spanish control of Texas and the American southwest.


Modern Era - 19th Century


1824 - Mexico wins independence from Spain, Moses Austin founds new colony.

1826 - Haden Edwards receives a land grant in east Texas for 800 settlers. A dispute for colony leadership soon breaks. He and his allies form an alliance with the Cherokees and declare the independent republic of Fredonia.


1833 - Santa Anna becomes President of Mexico.

1836 - On March 2, the Texas Declaration of Independence is signed, officially creating the Republic of Texas. On March 6, the Alamo falls.
1839 - Austin becomes the capital of Texas.

Republic of Texas currency

1845 - Texas is admitted into the United States as the 28th state.
1848 - End of the US - Mexican War.

1849 - California gold rush.

1850- 1860   

1850 - Texas ranchers organize cattle drives to California to feed the "Forty-Niners".

The first European settlers to the Mansfield area of are of Scotch/Irish descent. Several small settlements or communities, consisting of family units, are established in the general area by the early 1850s. The Poindexter enclave is located out west of Mansfield. The Bludworth School is located what is now the intersection of Highway 1187 and Gertie Barrett Road. The building now serves as a church.
1853 - Charles Turner, first known settler in the Mansfield area, establishes a saw or grist mill.
1854 - Walnut Creek Cumberland Presbyterian Church is organized.




Group of settlers




    1856 - Mr. Ralph S. Man and Mr. Julian Feild come to this area to build a grist mill, and Mr. Feild purchases 540 acres. Between 1856 and 1859 they build their mill on the land that is now at the southwest corner of East Broad Street and South Main Street (currently a restaurant). The mill, which produces flour and meal, is the first built in North Texas to utilize steam power and enjoys patronage as far south as San Antonio and as far north as Oklahoma. Across Broad St. from the mill, Feild builds and operates a general merchandising store, the first of its kind in Mansfield. He also builds a log cabin inn by his home (near Broad St. and First Ave. ) which provides lodging for mill customers and other travelers. His wife, Henrietta, manages the inn.  

Mr. Man and Mr. Feild

no. 11-82304 Mansfield Mill with Branson Chilren 1895
1895 photograph of the mill.
1860-1870   By 1860 the nucleus of the community has formed around the mill location. It is being referred to as Mansfeild (spelled F-E-I-L-D).
The first postmaster in town is Julian Feild. When people start sending their mail to Mansfeild they continue to spell it Mansfield, so by popular demand the town changes the name to Mansfield. (Image from Museum collection.)
1860 - First general merchandising store is established.
Julian Feild
    1861-1865 - Mansfield citizens fight in the Civil War. Records show that 123 Mansfield men joine leaving only 2 men under the age of 45 in town. The Man and Feild Mill supplies meal and flour to the Confederate States Army, hauling it to Shreveport, Louisiana, and Jefferson City, Missouri.
Mansfield is unique in that it prospers during this difficult time while surrounding communities experience a downturn in growth.

1861 - John L. Wyatt, Mansfield's first banker/moneylender, begins his business.
War supply train

1866 - Texas ranchers pioneered the Chisolm Trail, and other cattle trails, to take their beef to market at the Kansas railheads.

1867 - The city fathers invite the Reverend

Doctor John Collier, a Presbyterian minister, to come to Mansfield and establish an educational facility for the community. Dr. Collier agrees, but insists that the city meet two requirements: 1) that Dr. Collier and his family be provided with housing, and 2) that the city be platted and registered with the County Clerk's Office. Having the city platted and registered will give it a sense of permanence for his school, and this was accomplished in 1870.

1868 - Julian Field donates the land for the building of the Walnut Creek Congregation, Cumberland Presbyterian.
1869 - Upon the encouragement of the town, John Collier establishes a coeducational school: Mansfield Male and Female College

    1869 - The Trans-Continental railroad is completed. Railroads are about to revolutionize America. Towns begin to sprout up all along the route.   railroad-trancont  
1870- 1880   1870 - Dr. Collier opens the Mansfield Male/Female College on the property where the Mansfield Independent School District administration offices are located today. (Musuem collection)

Survey and plat of Mansfield town site drawn by John Peter Smith.

Mansfield Male/Female College
    1871 - The Salt Creek Massacre, also known as the Warren Wagon Train Raid, occurrs on May 18, 1871.

1877 - Dr. Collier builds a two-story house on the western edge of the college campus. He and his family occupy the lower floor while the upper floor houses the female educators and students. Today, his house is occupied by Blessing Funeral Home at 401 East Elm Street.


Satank (Sitting Bear)      Collier house

Collier house

1880 - Mansfield population reaches 249.
1882 - James "Squire" Grimsley is Justice of the Peace. It is said that Judge Roy Bean, who dispenses law west of the Pecos, had nothing over Squire Grimsley. The Squire cannot be bothered with technicalities, and dispenses justice without any frills. He is thought to be fair, is probably ignorant of all the legal twists and turns, but relies on his sense of right and wrong. When faced with a crowded docket, he will hold a night sessions, usually on a crate by candlelight. (Image from Museum collection.)

Grimsley & wife Mary Adair

1883 - The "Mansfield Chronicle" begins publication. Later named the Mansfield News-Mirror, it is now the oldest newspaper in Tarrant County.

1883 - The First Baptist Church is founded.

1884 - City population reaches 400. Many families move in from Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi, many to escape the turmoil of Reconstruction.


1863 Ruggles printing press


1885 - The railroad trestle is built. Now, it is one of the oldest operating trestles in the state and is one of the most visited sites of interest in Mansfield. (Image from Museum collection.)


1886 -The railroad comes to town. The small surrounding communities then became dependent on Mansfield as a point of commerce.(Image from Museum collection.) Cotton was king, and many bales were transported from Mansfield via railroad.


1887 - Dr. Collier purchases Marvin College in Waxahachie and closes the Mansfield Male and Female College.

1887-1901 Private schools were conducted, coupled with the public school.


Railroad trestle
 Depot, east side of dock.
    The first church built in Mansfield is the Cumberland Presbyterian church. It is built at the corner of Church Street (which is now N. Walnut Creek Dr.) and East Broad Street - approximately in right field of the current Geyer baseball field.    
First church building
Present-day site
1890- 1900   

1890 - Mansfield is incorporated on August 23rd. It is described in the Texas State Gazetteer as "prosperous", having four churches, two schools, two mills, a cotton gin and numerous retail businesses. Population is 418.

1894 - In June, crews drilling for water in Corsicana, TX struck oil  instead, starting a huge drilling boom. From this boom came a company today called Mobile.

1897 - Julian Feild passes away on September 7th.
Citizens of Mansfield organize the Mansfield Academy Association and begin building a two story brick building plus two other brick buildings and a dormitory. (Images from Museum collection.)
- Mansfield Volunteer Fire Department is established.

1898 - The Spanish-American War 

1899 - The McKnight building is completed.


1900    Modern Era - 20th Century      

1900 - city population is 700
1901 - Mansfield Academy is opened.

1901 - President McKinley is assassinated. Theodore Roosevelt becomes President of the USA.

1902 - the neighboring town of Lillian is started.

1903 - Wright brothers first flight.
1904 - First town marshall hired.
1905 - R.S. Casals was awarded a 25 yr contract to build and operate a lighting plant in town.

1905 - Joseph Edwards installs the first telephone lines in town. The switchboard was located in the McKnight buildling.
(Stock image)
1906 - Mansfield State Bank is chartered.
1906 - Ralph Man passes on Nov. 18th.
1909 - The Mansfield Independent School District is incorporated. In September, the first classes of the new District are held in the old Mansfield Academy buildings which were purchased by MISD.
(Image from Museum collection.)

Myrtle & Maggie
at the switchboard.
1910- 1920   1910 - On October 11th, the city passes an ordinance to prevent autos from exceeding 10 miles per hour and also prevent persons from riding their bicycles on the sidewalks. (Stock image)
1914 -Mansfield is a bustling small town, with buildings designed in the current most popular architectural style. Many small towns in Texas, with surviving historical downtowns, look very similar in style.
1917 - The USA enters into World War I in April.
    auto 1910 ww1-main
    1917 - Mr. Milton Farr builds the first electric light plant and installs the first electric lights on Water Street (future Main Street). He rents a building in downtown and opens the Farr Best Theater.  The theater features Saturday afternoon kiddy matinees, a movie on Friday night and a matinee and night movie on Saturdays.  

Photo c.1960s

1920- 1930  

1922 - A terrible flood hits Mansfield and surrounding cities, leaves 13 dead and 35 missing in the area.  In Mansfield, flood waters pushes Walnut Creek totally out of its banks. It destroys bridges, tracks and many rail cars, but the railroad bridge by North Street is left intact. (Image from Museum collection.)

1924 - The cornerstone is laid for the new MISD school in September. When completed, the school houses white students grades 1-11 until 1953, when a new elementary school is built. The building was then occupied by grades 9-11. (Image from Museum collection.)
1924 - Famous singer Ella Mae Morse born on Sept. 12.

1924 - Texas elected its first woman governor, Miriam "Ma" Ferguson.

  82519-1922-flood .jpg  84606-300p-4x4 
    1925 - The sewage treatment plant is built. That location now is used as the north soccer field in Hardy Allmon park.
1926 - Mr. Farr installs Mansfield's first sewer system, and natural gas was supplied to business and residential area of town. (Stock image)

1927 - The first movie with synchronized dialogue is released. It is dubbed a "talkie". 

1929 - The city library is established.

1929 - The Stock Market Crash (or financial collapse) in October signals the beginning of the ten-year-long Great Depression in the USA and in all Western industrialized countries. 


1930- 1940   The decade of the Great Depression.  

1940-1950   1940 - In May, construction begins on The Rock Gym, as W.P.A. project # 40541. It is budgeted for $18,238.00, including a gym and two class rooms for Mansfield High School. (Image from Museum collection.)


1940 - State Highway 34 was changed to Highway 287.




    December 7, 1941 - Japan attacks the American naval and air bases at Pearl Harbor, HI. The next day, America declares was on Japan and so enters World War II.
(Stock image)

1945 - Crowds take to the streets on V-E Day, May 8th, celebrating Germany's surrender in World War II.
    1949 - Dial telephones are introduced. (Stock image)   telephone-1949-dial   
1950- 1960  

1952The City Council hires a night watchman for $150/month.

1953 - Railroad depot closes. Mr. W. E. Marshall, the second and last depot agent, locks the doors for the last time.
(Image from Museum collection.)


1954 - The US Supreme Court rules on segregation in the landmark Brown vs Board of Education case. Click HERE to read more on this subject.

W.E.Marshall, last depot agent

1954 - The fine for driving without a license was raised from $5 to $10
1954 - The Mansfield City council hires its first Police Chief. It is a low-paying job and the Chief has to furnish his own car.
1956 - The city purchases its first police vehicle, a 1956 Chevrolet 4–door sedan, for $1542. A few months later, the police radio is installed. Dispatching was done out of the Chief’s home, by his wife.
1956 - The Mansfield Desegregation Incident leads to the passage of Texas desegregation laws in 1957. Click HERE to read more on this subject.



Downtown, 1956




1956 - A page from a local news broadcast carries the story of the new Mansfield City Hall and fire station. This City Hall is built on the site of the original Man & Feild feed mill (corner of Broad Street & Main Street, now a restaurant).


    1958 - Kow Bell arena is established. (Aerial view, c. 1958, from Museum archives.)

1958 - On September 8th, the City Council votes to change the name of Water Street to Main Street.
(Stock image)


  kowbellarialview-210x230  main-street-sign-old
1960- 1970  

City population reaches 1375.



1963 - A new high school is built. Grades 7 and 8 remain in the old school building.

President Kennedy is assassinated on November 22.

1967 - MISD integrated. Click HERE to read more on this subject.

1968 - Two Mansfield firefighters lose their lives fighting the fire at the Red Ball gas station in Kennedale. Photo at right shows the remains of the 10,000 gallon gas storage tank that exploded.

1969 - Neil Armstrong sets foot on the moon. 

1970-1980    1974 - As the Dallas-Fort Worth area grew, the population of Mansfield increased from 1,375 in 1961 to 5,000 by 1974, when employees working in the larger neighboring cities transformed the town from a rural community into a modern suburb. Civic leaders promoted Mansfield and allowed graduate students from the Institute of Urban Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington to renovate the downtown area in the early 1970s      
1980-1991   City population reaches 8,000.      
1990- 2000   City population reaches 15,615.      
2000    Modern Era - 21st Century      
2000- 2010   2000 - City population reaches 28,031.
2010 - City population reaches 56,368.
2010- 2020  .. 2013 - The City builds the MISD Performing Arts Center.      

2015 - Mansfield celebrates 125 years of incorporation with a variety of events and ceremonies throughout the year.


The logo for this anniversary is the Museum's own McKnight Building.


2016 -  The LOT opens on Main Street (April)




Images without attribution are from the Museum archives or from stock sources.