Local historian David Stevens recently completed a compendium of all elected officials in Brown County, and along the way corrected a few historical inaccuracies.
For months Stevens visited each municipality within Brown County as well as reviewed old copies of the Brownwood Bulletin in hopes of creating the first compendium of county elected officials, which he said had never been attempted until now.
“This is every office, every election or as much as possible. Some of the information is no longer available or does not exist,” Stevens said. “In 1880, the courthouse caught on fire and a lot of the records burnt up in that fire. There are old books, held by cities such as Blanket that are too delicate to be handled. You can’t open it or turn the page without causing degradation to the materials.”
Stevens said he cannot take soul credit for the compendium, titled ‘History of Governance Brown County Texas’. He said Doris Teague made the Blanket sections possible thanks to her decades of working with the Blanket City Council. Other municipalities such as Bangs were more than willing to allow Stevens access to their records, which finally corrected an inaccuracy circulated since the city’s inception.
“Without [Teugue’s] help. This would not have been possible,” Stevens said. “I went to Bangs and asked them if I could do their history because they did not have a complete idea of it either. They thought their incorporation date occurred June 1st of 1915. However, in this book, it shows through the deed of trust through the county clerk’s office, their incorporation date was actually December 21st, 1909.”
Another interesting fact Stevens uncovered was the strange career of Welcome William Chandler, who Stevens considered one of Brown County’s founding fathers. He was first elected in as a commissioner in 1857, in an election that was later rescinded. He was elected chief justice to the court in 1858 and elected later as sheriff. Although passing away in 1870, county records show Chandler serving as sheriff long after his death in 1871, making him the first undead acting sheriff in world history or so some may think.
“Few people recognize him as anything other than a founding member of the county’s governance, but don’t recognize him in the office of sheriff,” Stevens said. “He actually held the office twice and was appointed by Gen. Reynolds in 1869. It was given to Grisham Lee, who wasn’t able to hold the office, so it went back to Welcome Chandler and that would be in 1870, but not in 1871 – that was a misspelling … I don’t want to re-write history. I just want to understand it.”
Stevens said the project took 6 weeks to complete. He credits his historic background to helping him first figure out the questions to ask long before making his first trip to city hall. He said his primary motivation behind the entire project was it had never been done before and someone had to document the information before it’s lost to time. Stevens recently received shipment of the first copies, which he distributed to the Brownwood Public Library, the Brown County Museum of History
“There was no complete record for reference. I saw a need for it and I had the desire to do it so I completed the project,” Stevens said. “… I gave one to Becky (Isbell, BPL director) to put in her glass case, where she keeps Brown County history, so that it can remain there hopefully for the next 100 years. Maybe someone in the future can pick up and complete it again.”
Those interested in purchasing a copy of ‘History of Governance Brown County Texas’ can do so through the Brown County Historical Commission, the Brownwood Public Library’s History and Genealogy Research Branch across from the court house and hopes to have copies available at the Francis and Martin Lehnis Railroad Museum and libraries affiliated with every school district in the county in the near future.