Grayson County began its Texas existence after the revolution, when it cleaved from
Fannin County in 1846. With the break-up of Fannin County, the county seat of Warren, a
trading post on the Red River, gave way to Bonham (today's Fannin County seat) and
Sherman. So Sherman's been around a long time, and has the history to prove it.
According to various early Texas maps, Grayson County settlers didn't simply select
Sherman as their new county seat only because it was the geographical center of the
county - though that helped, of course. Instead, the place that would become Sherman
sat along the Chihuahua Trail, which was established during the colonial era and
reached from today's Arkansas all the way to the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. Thus,
Sherman quickly developed into a larger city that centered on regional trade, linking
Colbert (Indian Territory), Preston, and Dallas via stage coaches and trade routes,
including the Butterfield Overland Mail company and the Shawnee Trail. The town
slowly kept pace during the Civil War, when it saw many troubles, including food riots,
Quantrill guerrilla raids, and anti-unionist violence.
Like most cities in the Red River Valley, Sherman, which was named after the Texas
revolutionary war veteran Sidney Sherman, really began to grow once the railroad came
through. In 1872, the Missouri Kansas & Texas Railroad had entered Grayson County
from the north and ended its line in the newly-established town of Denison. Sherman
wanted to ensure that it would also get a railroad - and not lose its county seat status to
burgeoning Denison - and tried to entice the MKT to continue building southward, but
to no avail. Luckily, Shermans' incentives did beckon the Houston and Texas Central
Railroad, which built its line north from Dallas through Sherman to link with the MKT in
Denison. Though Sherman and Denison continued a rivalry of sorts with each other, an
interurban train, established at the turn of the century, connected them. The interurban
line eventually extended into Dallas.
|March into Sherman, Texas
The arrival of the railroad, which closely coincided with the end of Reconstruction, signaled a new chapter in Sherman. The city
encouraged the building of many higher education institutions, such as Austin College (relocated from Huntsville in 1876), St. Joseph's
Academy, and Mary Nash College. In the late 19th century, Mary Nash College and the North Texas Female Institute morphed into the
Kidd-Key Conservatory, which would become a junior college in 1916. The Great Depression forced Kidd-Key College to close, however. It
was also during the 1930s that Sherman saw a lynch mob burn down the courthouse. A new courthouse was built with WPA funds in 1936.
Since Sherman was in Sam Rayburn's home region, it received more than its fair share of federal dollars. Rayburn, history's
longest-serving Speaker of the US House of Representatives, ensured that Grayson County became home to Lake Texoma, at that time
(1939) the largest reservoir in both Texas and Oklahoma. Today, Sherman is still an important gateway to manufacturing, education, and
recreation in Northeast Texas.
|The Chihuahua trail, a Spanish colonial
road, is today's TX 56 west of Sherman.
This map is from 1844.
|The St. Louis and Southwestern Railroad - known as the "Cotton Belt" -
came to Sherman in the 1880s and built a pretty brick depot.
|Sherman sits just east of the Shawnee Trail. This 1862 map still
depicts Warren, Fannin County's original seat, as well. Warren
would later become nothing but a memory and is now the location
of a sand pit.
|This swing bridge across Choctaw creek east of Sherman was used by
pedestrians, wagons, and cars.
|One of Sherman's most famous landmarks is its Woodmen's
Circle orphanage west of town. The hill that houses the
orphanage served as the original location of the town before it
moved a few miles east. The Shawnee Trail runs on the hill's