Foard County Courthouse
County Seat: Crowell
(2010 U.S. Census)
The Foard County Courthouse fashioned of brick and stone was built in 1910 in a Texas Renaissance style as designed by McDonald Brothers of Fort Worth. In 1942, the courthouse dome and porticoes were ripped from the building by a tornado and were never replaced.
The county was named in honor of Robert J. Foard, a lawyer and Confederate officer, while the county seat of Crowell refers to George T. Crowell, who donated half a section of his own land for the governmental seat. Foard County was actually founded by J.G. Witherspoon; as historians indicate, without Witherspoon’s efforts to secure a strip of land mainly from Hardeman County, the designated area would have been too tiny to justify the designation of a county.
In her book “The Texas Courthouse Revisited,” author June Rayfield Welch recounts an amusing story from the county’s early days as follows: “A good friend of mine…grew up in Foard County. In the childhood of Sister Mary Margaret O’Connell, the Saturday cowboy movie was a major event. Her brother always had to take her – to his dismay. The theater had no restroom and in the most important part of the movie he always had to shepherd her across the street to the courthouse facilities.”
The county’s label as the “Wild Hog Capital of the World” is not its only claim to fame. In addition to its spectacular hunting, Foard County is home to the Three Rivers Foundation Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus (CSAC). Astronomy enthusiasts from across the state, the nation, and the world visit this 700-acre facility, which offers telescopes, observatories and indoor and outdoor classrooms. CSAC programs cover topics ranging from astronomy to environmental and earth science.
The astronomy campus, a former Comanche bison hunting ground, boasts a rich biodiversity and healthy ecosystem where resident species include the Texas Horned Lizard, deer, coyotes, jackrabbits and cotton tails, more than 50 types of birds, and a host of insect and plant species that are native to Texas. CSAC also hosts an Ornate Box Turtle habitat offering students, teachers and the general public the opportunity to get a first-hand look at these unique animals. Finally, migrating species spotted on campus include Monarch butterflies, hummingbirds, Mississippi kites and Sandhill cranes.
Some nine miles east of Crowell a marker commemorates the recapture of Cynthia Ann Parker, Texas’ most famous Indian captive and the mother of Quanah Parker. The marker reads: “In 1860, at the Battle of Pease River, Indian captive Cynthia Ann Parker and her daughter, Prairie Flower, were rescued by Texas Rangers under Captain L. S. Ross (later Governor of Texas).”
The county history is detailed in the Santa Fe Depot Library/Museum, the Foard County Courthouse Museum, and the Firehall Museum, which features a pioneer school room and a detailed scale model of a country town in the early 1900s.
Area agriculture includes wheat, cattle, alfalfa, cotton, sorghum and dairies with a total market value of some $17.6 million. Hunting leases also contribute to the local economy.
Every November the county celebrates Crowell as the “Wild Hog Capital of the World” with a Wild Hog Cook-Off.