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.
1000 - 1300 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.
1300 - 1600 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.
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.
1800 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.
1845 – Texas is admitted into the United States as the 28th state.
1848 – End of the US – Mexican War.
1849 – California gold rush.
1850 – Texas ranchers organize cattle drives to California to feed the “Forty-Niners”.
The first European settlers to the Mansfield area 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.
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.
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.
1860 – First general merchandising store is established.
1861-1865 – Mansfield citizens fight in the Civil War. Records show that 123 Mansfield men joined, 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.
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 Feild 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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.