County Seat: Benjamin * County Population: 3,353 (2020 Census)
The Knox County Courthouse was built in 1935 in a Modern style as designed by architects Voelcker & Dixon. The county was formed from Young and Bexar territories in 1858 and named for George Washington’s secretary of war, Henry Knox. The County was re-created in 1878 and organized in 1886.
The first courthouse, a small box and strip building, was replaced by a native stone structure that served as the home of county government from 1888 to 1935.
One of the county’s historical markers offers a glimpse into the founding of the first settlement, the L-Ranch: “To assure these families church and school privileges, H.G. Bedford started the town of Benjamin in 1885, naming it for his eldest son. He gave 640 acres for a townsite, reserving 40 acres for a public square. He sold the remainder to these families at $5 per tract.”
In 1886, Bedford was instrumental in organizing the county with Benjamin as the county seat.
According to historian June Rayfield Welch, author of The Texas Courthouse Revisited, “During terms of court, men would bring bedding and camp equipment and spend a week or two in town. Mrs. Dudley Benge baked bread to sell to them. W.P. Lane’s bird dog once treed a coon on top of the billboard in the courthouse and generated about as much excitement as Benjamin could manage.”
The story of the Brazos River Bridge is shared on a historical marker: “Constructed in 1938-39 to replace a 1901 bridge and provide a crossing over the Brazos River. Located on State Highway 6 (originally State Highway 16 and later State Highway 283) south of Benjamin, the bridge links the Knox County seat to points south. A statewide historic bridge survey in the 1990s identified it as one of only five continuous through truss bridges in Texas built before World War II.”
The Narrows, the crest that separates the drainage basins of the Wichita River, whose waters flow into the Mississippi, and the Brazos River winds through Texas to the Gulf of Mexico. The Narrows were crossed by the Comanche, Wichita, Kiowa, Apache, Seminole, and Tonkawa Indians. Today its canyons and ravines are used for ranching.
The intersection of S.H. 6 and U.S. Highway 82/Texas Highway 114 runs through the middle of Knox County. On the southeast corner of this intersection, you will find the magnificent Knox County Veterans Memorial. Most veterans memorials usually pay tribute to the fallen of battle, and such is the case with this monument. However, this is a tribute to honor all men and women who served in the military who have or formerly had ties to Knox County.
Finally, the Knox County website includes a couple of “Historical Snippets From Knox County” that are worth a read, considering this is election season. Visit http://www.knoxcountytexas.org/snippets.htm!