County Seat: Sulphur Springs • County Population: 35, 161 (2010 U.S. Census)
Located across from the main square, the Hopkins County Courthouse boasts a Romanesque Revival style as designed by
J. Riely Gordon. Completed in 1895, this National Register Property is fashioned of granite and sandstone and was restored in 2003.
Hopkins County was carved out of Lamar and Nacogdoches counties in 1846 by the first Texas Legislature.
The inaugural county courthouse was built in the original county seat of Tarrant in 1854 using money from the confiscation of 300 cattle owned by a non-resident; the law restricted grazing to livestock owned only by Texans. During his 1959 gubernatorial campaign, Sam Houston gave an address at Hopkins County’s t wo-story, frame capitol.
In 1870, Rains and Delta counties were sculpted from Hopkins County, meaning Tarrant was no longer centrally located. Sulphur Springs, originally named Bright Star, was then designated the county seat, and rented quarters served as the temple of justice until a courthouse was built east of the square in 1881. Sulphur Springs’ first courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1894 and replaced with the present-day capitol and jail, which cost the county some $65,000.
There’s no doubt as to the pride Hopkins County takes in its former role as the nation’s No. 1 milk-producing county (1970s). By 1950, there were almost 1,000 dairies across the county, more than half of them rated Grade A.
Dairies and large milk-processing plants are still pillars of the local economy, giving townsfolk an ongoing reason to celebrate the county’s role as a premiere milk supplier.
Every June, Hopkins County kicks off the summer with its annual Dairy Festival, including a parade, coronation of the Dairy Festival Queen, a homemade Ice Cream Freeze Off, carnivals, a street dance, and a variety of dairy-related events.
The Southwest Dairy Museum offers year-round exhibits detailing every facet of milk production and processing, from early farm days to modern times.
Even the World Championship Hopkins County Stew Contest makes reference to the county’s dairy connection, touting “fixin’s including cheese made from Hopkins County dairy milk.” The stew contest is a highlight of the county’s September Fall Festival, which includes the county fair.