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History and Facts of Texas Counties

Today’s Texas counties did not always exist in the present form. They went through many different changes in the space of a few short years.

Texas was originally divided into municipalities, a unit of local government under Spanish and Mexican rule. When the Republic of Texas gained its independence on March 2, 1836, the 23 municipalities became the original Texas counties. 

The State of Texas entered the union as the 28th state on December 29, 1845. The Republic of Texas officially transfered of power to the new state of Texas on February 19, 1846.

Texas is currently divided into 254 counties. States bordering Texas are ArkansasLouisianaNew MexicoOklahoma and Mexico.

Each county serves as the local level of government within its borders. Texas counties have eminent domain power and control all unincorporated land within their boundaries but they have don’t have home-rule authority or zoning power. 

At least 32 counties that were established by Texas law no longer exist. These defunct counties were either

  1. Judicial counties
  2. Counties established by declaration of the Constitutional Convention of 1868-69
  3. Counties established by legislative act but never organized and later abolished by legislative act
  4. Counties established outside the present boundaries of Texas
  5. Counties whose names have been changed.

Fun Facts about Texas Counties

Counties by Year

County Size Facts

County Population Facts

Texas City Facts

Texas’s 10  largest cities (2017 est.) are:

  1. Houston (2,312,717) is in Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery Counties
  2. San Antonio (1,511,946) is in Bexar, Medina and Comal Counties
  3. Dallas (1,341,075) is in Dallas, Collin, Denton, Rockwall and Kaufman Counties
  4. Austin (950,715) is in Hays, Travis, and Williamson Counties
  5. Fort Worth (874,168) is in Tarrant, Denton, Parker, and Wise Counties
  6. El Paso (683,577) is in
    El Paso County
  7. Arlington (396,394) is in
    Tarrant County
  8. Corpus Christi (325,605) is in Nueces, Kleberg, San Patricio and Aransas Counties
  9. Plano (286,143) is in Collin and
    Denton Counties
  10. Laredo (260,654) is in Webb County

Boundary Changes of Texas Counties from 1834 to 1931

This Interactive Map of Texas Counties show the historical boundaries, names, organization, and attachments of every county, extinct county and unsuccessful county proposal from the creation of Texas from 1834-1931.

List of Texas Counties

List of Old Former / Extinct Texas Counties

Texas contains some counties that no longer exist because they were discontinued, renamed or merged with another county. These are important for genealogy research purposes.

The below Texas counties no longer exist:

Bexar Land District, Texas

Created on January 26, 1856 from the Bexar County. Buchanan County was divided into Young Territory and Bexar Territory on August 19, 1856.

Bexar Territory, Texas

Created on August 19, 1856 from the Bexar Land District. That part of Bexar Land District north of Young Territory became known as Bexar Territory or Unorganized Territory on contemporary maps.

The Bexar Territory County was eliminated when
Carson, Dallam, Gray, Hansford, Hartley, Hemphill, Hutchinson, Lipscomb, Moore, Ochiltree, Oldham, Potter, Roberts, Sherman and Wheeler Counties were created on December 17, 1861.

Young Territory, Texas

Created on August 19, 1856 from the Bexar Land District.

Young Territory was eliminated when Armstrong, Bailey, Borden, Briscoe, Carson, Castro, Childress, Cochran, Cottle, Crosby, Dawson, Deaf Smith, Dickens, Fisher, Floyd, Gaines, Garza, Hale, Hall, Hockley, Howard, Kent, King, Lamb, Lubbock, Lynn, Martin, Mitchell, Motley, Nolan, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Scurry, Stonewall, Swisher, Terry and Yoakum Counties were created on November 19, 1876.

Buchanan County, Texas

Created on January 22, 1858 from Young Territory and Unorganized Areas, not fully organized, attached to Palo Pinto County for administrative and judicial purposes.

It was named after U.S. President James Buchanan.  Buchanan County was renamed to Stephens County on December 17, 1861.

Buchel County, Texas

Created on March 15, 1887 from Presidio County, not fully organized, attached to Brewster County for administrative and judicial purposes in March of 1889.

It was named after German soldier and war hero Augustus Buchel.  Buchel County merged into Brewster County on April 21, 1897.

Cibilo County (Proposed), Texas

Proposed to be renamed from Wilson County on January 19, 1869.  The changes were never recognized or legalized by the Legislature. 

Cooke Land District, Texas

Created on February 13, 1854. Cooke Land District was eliminated and became part of Young Territory on August 19, 1856.

Davis County, Texas

Created on December 17, 1861 by renaming from Cass County. Davis County was renamed to Cass County on May 23, 1871.

Denton Land District, Texas

Created on February 13, 1854. Denton Land District was eliminated and became part of Young Territory on August 19, 1856.

Encinal County, Texas

Created on February 1, 1858 by renaming from Nueces and Webb Counties, not fully organized, attached to Nueces County for administrative and judicial purposes.

Abolished on March 12, 1899 and incorporated into Webb County

Foley County, Texas

Created on March 15, 1887 by renaming from Presidio County, not fully organized, attached to Brewster County for administrative and judicial purposes.

Foley County had only twenty-five residents in 1890; thus it was one of the most sparsely settled counties in Texas.

On April 21, 1897 the legislature passed a bill abolishing Foley County and attaching its territory to Brewster County.

Fannin Land District, Texas

Created on March 14, 1846. Fannin Land District was eliminated and became part of Cooke Land District and Denton Land District when those districts were reorganized and expanded on February 13, 1854.

Travis Land District, Texas

Created on February 5, 1852. Travis Land District was eliminated and became part of Brown County on February 5, 1858.

Greer County, Texas

Created on February 8, 1860 from Young Territory, not fully organized, attached to Montague County for administrative and judicial purposes. Greer County was located entirely in present Oklahoma.

Greer County eliminated from Texas when U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Greer was not within the boundaries of Texas, but was under the jurisdiction of the United States. on March 16, 1896.

Harrisburg County, Texas

Established in January 1, 1836 as a municipality by the Provisional Government of Texas from Austin and Liberty. Harrisburg became a county in the Republic of Texas on March 17, 1836.

Harrisburg County was renamed to Harris County on December 28, 1839.

La Baca County (Judicial), Texas

Created as a Judicial County on January 29, 1842 by the Republic of Texas from Colorado, Fayette, Gonzolas, Jackson, and Victoria Counties.

On June 27, 1842 it was eliminated when Republic of Texas Supreme Court ruled judicial counties unconstitutional.

Mina County, Texas

Established in April 1834 as a municipality by Mexico from Austin County and unorganized area in Mexico. Mina became a county in the Republic of Texas on March 17, 1836.

Mina County was renamed to Bastrop County on December 18, 1837.

Miller County, Arkansas Territory

Created on April 1, 1820 from Hempstead County, Arkansas, not fully organized. Survey of boundary between the Republic of Texas and the United States began.

Miller County officially became extinct as Texas claims to the area were upheld, on May 21, 1840.

Navasota County, Texas

Created on January 30, 1841 from Robertson and Washington Counties, not fully organized. Navasota County was renamed to Brazos County on January 28, 1842.

Neches County (Judicial), Texas

Created as a Judicial County on January 29, 1842 by the Republic of Texas from Jasper and Jefferson Counties. It included all of the area of future Orange County, the south half of the future Jasper County, and the south half of what is now Newton County.

The county seat was to be Madison. On June 27, 1842 it was eliminated when Republic of Texas Supreme Court ruled judicial counties unconstitutional.

Paschal County (Judicial), Texas

Created as a Judicial County on January 29, 1841 by the Republic of Texas from Milam and Robertson Counties. It included all of the area of future Hopkins, Franklin, Titus, Morris, and Cass counties and most of future Marion County.

The county seat, to be selected by county commissioners, was to be named Dangerfield. On June 27, 1842 it was eliminated when Republic of Texas Supreme Court ruled judicial counties unconstitutional.

Santa Fe County, Texas

Created on March 15, 1848 from unorganized area, not fully organized. On December 13, 1850, the State of Texas sold part of Santa Fe County to the United States. The rest of Santa Fe County was merged into Bexar County.

Waco County (Judicial), Texas

Created as a Judicial County on January 29, 1842 by the Republic of Texas from Milam and Robertson Counties. Viesca was named the county seat.

OnJune 27, 1842 it was eliminated when Republic of Texas Supreme Court ruled judicial counties unconstitutional.

Wegefarth County, Texas

Created on June 2, 1873 from Bexar Territory and Young Territory, not fully organized. On November 19, 1876 it was abolished by the act of legislature, which established the other Panhandle counties.