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Hurst History: Narrative

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Early Settlement

Settlement of the area we know today as North Texas did not really begin until the mid-1830’s. Hailing mostly from the border southern states and lured by free and fertile land, several families began to make their way into this part of Texas. Very few Anglos, however, were tempted to colonize the Indian- “infested” lands of the upper Trinity River basin. Several Indian tribes (Anadarko, Biloxi, Caddo, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Delaware, Hainai, Kichai, Tawakoni, Waco and others) inhibited the area and early settlers were often plagued by Indian attacks, as both plains and woodland tribes grew restive over settlement on land they regarded as theirs. When the Texas Revolution freed settlers from Mexican rule, the fledging Republic of Texas (1836-1845) began encouraging settlement in north Texas despite the possibility of Indian attacks.

The first known Anglo-American expedition into present-day Tarrant County occurred in 1838, when some ninety Northeast Texas frontiersmen waged a punitive raid against Indians who had attacked their homes in Fannin County. After several clashes, most notable being the Battle of Village Creek led by General Edward H. Tarrant and which occurred near the present-day landfill in Arlington where several Indians were killed, brought about a request in 1841 by Brevet Major Jonathan Bird, a famed veteran of the Texas Revolution, to ask Texas Militia Calloway Lake. In 1843, Bird’s Fort, as it came to be called, was the site of negotiations by President Sam Houston to establish a treaty line where the Indian hunting grounds would be located northwest of the Trinity River. The treaty, known as Bird’s Fort Treaty, helped lure settlers to the area which promised fertile land abundant with game.

One of the first arrangements for colonization by the newly recognized State of Texas was made with W. S. Peters and Associates who agreed to bring 600 families into the area within three years in 1841. The Peters Colony was a strip of territory whose boundaries shifted several times, but soon stretched 100 miles long in North Central Texas and over 160 miles wide south of the Red River. Tarrant County, one of 26 counties created out of the Peters Colony, was established in 1849 and organized the next year. The county was named in honor of General Edward H. Tarrant of the Republic of Texas militia. White family men were eligible for a section (640 acres) and single men 320 acres. To obtain clear title to the free land the immigrants had to live on it three years, cultivate at least ten acres, and have the land surveyed and plainly marked.

From that point forward, early pioneers began to settle along the Trinity River basin and the lush green valley teaming with wildlife and fertile land for farming.

Early Pioneers

No one can identify with certainty the first permanent settlers in Tarrant County but it is clear that with the promise of free land that settlers began to trickle into the area. Many of those early pioneers chose to settle in northeast Tarrant County. Some of their stories are below:

John Hust
Perhaps one of the first Peters Colony settlers in the area was John Hust who settled on a tract of land roughly between Walker Creek and the Trinity River, between 1846-1848. He patented 640 acres in 1854, shortly before he and three partners built a grain mill on Hust’s land. The mill was erected on the south bank of the Trinity River, about a hundred yards west of present day Precinct Line Road. The mill became and industrial center for the North Texas area.

Hamilton Bennett
One of the first Peters Colony settlers in the area was Hamilton Bennett. Along present West Hurst Boulevard, considered part of the Birdville community at the time, Hamilton Bennett filed on 640 acres of land in 1848 and built a cabin there. He was a Church of Christ preacher from Virginia via Missouri. Bennett served as one of Tarrant County’s commissioners at one point. After the death of Bennett’s wife in 1851, he sold his land to Isaac Parker and left for South Texas in 1853.

Isaac Parker (1793-1883)
Isaac parker, who was born in Georgia in 1793, just seventeen years after American Independence, fought in the War of 1812 and then, under Andrew Jackson, in the Creek Indian War of 1813-1814. Parker moved to Texas in 1833 and fought alongside Sam Houston in the war for Texas’ independence from Mexico.

In 1836, when Isaac Parker was living in the family’s Fort Parker in Limestone County, the fort was attacked by Comanches led by chief Peta Nocona. Parker survived the attack, but hisfather and two brothers were killed and his niece, Cynthia Ann Parker, age eight and nephew, John Parker, age six, were abducted.

In 1841 Parker fought Indians in the Battle of Village Creek in present-day Arlington. Eventually Isaac Parker traded smoke-filled battlefields for smoke-filled rooms. The soldier became a politician. He was a representative and senator in the legislature of the Republic of Texas from 1838 until 1845. Upon annexation in 1845, he was a delegate to the state constitutional convention. Parker then served as a senator in the state legislature (1846-1853). From 1855 to 1856 Parker, while living in Tarrant County, represented Ellis and Tarrant counties in the House, where he introduced a bill to establish Parker County, which was named for him.

Migrating from Limestone County with his family (wife Lucy, children-Joseph Cheatham, Isaac Duke, William Eldridge, Virginia America and Lucy Ann), Isaac Parker purchased a section of land owned by Hamilton Bennett. Included in the purchase was a log cabin which was located near the present-day intersection of Loop 820 and Trinity Boulevard. Isaac parker’s wife, Lucy, died in 1867 and Parker, aware of a cemetery on the northern edge of his property called the Post Oak Cemetery, decided to set aside a small patch of land adjacent to the Post Oak Cemetery to become the Parker Family Cemetery. Lucy is buried in the Parker Family Cemetery located on Cardinal Road in Hurst which has been designated as a historic site by the State of Texas. In addition to Lucy Parker, Parker Cemetery is the final resting place for several members of the Parker family clan.

Three years later, at age seventy-six, Isaac parker remarried. In 1872 Parker and his second wife, Virginia, moved west, to a farm in his namesake county, eight miles from Weatherford. They had four children with the last child, a boy, born in 1879 when Isaac Parker was eighty-six years old.

Isaac Parker, after a distinguished career, died in 1883 and is buried in Turner Cemetery in Parker County.

Daniel Arwine (1830-1887)
The Arwine family came to the area from Indiana in 1865 and settled on a farm that soon developed into what was variously known for some years as Red Sulphur Springs or the Arwine Community, located where present-day Pipeline Road intersects with Brown Trail. Pre-war ties with families from their old state of Indiana soon brought neighbors, and by 1881 the Arwine Community included the Souder, Anderson, Brown, Robertson, and Sexton families (all of whom knew each other from Indiana, and intermarried with one another). This collection of Indiana families, along with others from Tennessee and elsewhere across the post-war South, made up the mostly agriculture-based community that would eventually become Hurst. Other communities began to spring up around the same time in present-day Northeast Tarrant County including Bear Creek, Bedford, Birdville, Euless, Isham, Mosier Valley, and Randol Mill.

The Arwines' most notable contribution to Hurst's founding was in 1879, when they deeded 6 acres to the community for a school, a church, and a cemetery. Arwine cemetery, with nearly 300 identifiable graves, was deemed as a historic site in 1977, and is preserved as such today near the Bellaire Shopping Center. The first person buried in the Arwine Cemetery was Daniel Arwine’s seven-year-old daughter. She had been playing with a friend and she mentioned that when she died, she wanted to be buried under the big tree they were playing under. Soon after she became ill and died quite suddenly and the friend told her granddaddy what she had said, so they buried her under the tree.

William Letchworth Hurst (1833-1922)
In 1870, “Uncle Billy” (as he was popularly known) moved into the area with his wife and seven children. In the late 1890s Hurst moved his family into a house approximately one mile north of the present Highway 10, and he found success trading and speculating in land and horses. Uncle Billy was most known as the area's most popular fiddle-playing entertainer, but it was his deal in 1903 with the Rock Island Railroad that eventually lead the community to take his name. He agreed to let the railroad lay track connecting Fort Worth and Dallas on his land with the condition that a stop be established there, and a depot built and given his name. The Rock Island Station was built in 1903, and, along with the surrounding community, was finally officially given the name Hurst in 1909.

Hurst Becomes a Community

The first half of the twentieth century saw minimal growth in the rural communities of Northeast Tarrant County. Trains stopped at the Hurst Depot less and less, as east-west routes were moved further south to go through Arlington. Lack of direct access to bulk transport made agricultural expansion more difficult, and area communities were slow to adapt. Families less able to make do with hardier crops like cotton - goods that could make the difficult journey to depots in the south - found themselves looking to for other ways to make ends meet. Even the community’s most prominent families (like the Hurst’s) tell of their bootlegging exploits during the leaner years, and in the early 1900s sand and gravel excavation in the Trinity River bottoms joined farming and ranching as a major industry in the area. By the 1920s, Fort Worth Sand & Gravel was the county’s largest employer.

Hurst saw little growth in the first half of the century, with developments like the brick school built by the Work Projects Administration in 1940, and the 1949 establishment of the Hurst post office (when the Souder Family added a postal station to the corner of their grocery store) constituting big news for the 1,000-or-so residents they served. In 1951, however, everything changed when Bell Helicopter opened a $3 million plant next to the southeastern border of Hurst that pioneered the helicopter aviation industry in Texas, and caused a growth boom for the area. Hurst incorporated as a general law city on September 25, 1952 with a total population of 2,700. During the next five years, the population increased to 5,700. By 1960 the population had almost doubled with 10,165 residents. In 1968 Tarrant County Junior College (TCJC), now known as TCC Northeast, opened it newest campus in Hurst. Growth continued and by 1970 the population had increased to 27,215. Two significant events occurred in the ‘70’s. First, the construction of the Northeast Mall in 1972 provided not only growth but financial stability and flexibility for development. Two years later, the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport opened bringing more growth and development to the area now referred to as the Mid-Cities area comprised of Hurst, Euless and Bedford. With these strong economic engines driving development, Hurst continued to grow.

Hurst Today

The current population for Hurst is approximately 39,160, with average household income estimated at over $75,000. The city's markedly stable political and economic condition has allowed the community to focus on sustaining and encouraging developments that improve the quality of life for Hurst families.

Demographic data is available from the North Central Texas Council of Government’s (NCTCOG) Research & Information Services Department, which performs demographic research on such topics as population, housing, and employment estimates; population, household, and employment projections; development monitoring; major employers; land use; and tabulation/analysis of Census data. Learn more about the data provided by the NCTCOG through the Research & Information Services page on their web site.

Additional information may be found at the following web sites:

For U.S. Census Data for the City of Hurst, Texas:

For open access to aggregated data & statistics relating to the City of Hurst:

Hurst Tomorrow

Hurst is a first-class city with great assets, resources and city leadership. However, Hurst, like many cities, is beginning to experience some of the challenges that comes with an aging community. Recognizing this reality, the city leadership has initiated a community-based redevelopment strategy that will help stimulate private investment and prioritize public involvement. Through this process, called “Transforming Hurst,” Hurst recognizes some emerging challenges such as outdated commercial buildings, declining housing stock, and aging infrastructure and high concentrations of older multi-family housing in some neighborhoods. As part of the Hurst redevelopment initiative, there are several goals and issues that have emerged. These include preserving Hurst’s character and high quality of life and improving commercial quality and neighborhood integrity through thoughtful and incremental economic development and planning policies. The City of Hurst believes its future is bright and one that is sustainable, safe and a dynamic place for all individuals to live, work and play.

References and Narrative Notes

(In 2018, Larry and Carolyn Kitchens updated the original Hurst History narrative.  This version is an excellent resource for students and historians to use as a reference for their own research.  This document, reviewed and approved by the City of Hurst Historical Landmark Preservation Committee, provides the reader with an accurate and comprehensive account of the prominent historical figures and events that shaped the City of Hurst.  Special thanks to Dr. Haynes, University of Texas at Arlington Professor and Director of the Center for Greater Southwestern Studies, for his review of the document.)

Information for this narrative was gathered from the following sources:

George N. Green. Hurst, Euless, Bedford: Heart of the Metroplex: An Illustrated History. 1995. Published by Eakin Press.

George N. Green, "HURST, TX," Handbook of Texas Online

Handbook of Texas Online

"HURST," Texas Almanac
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Lone Star History Links

Portal to Texas History

Texas Beyond History

Texas Historic Commission

Texas Historic Sites Atlas

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

City of Hurst Historical Timeline

1841 - The Republic of Texas signs a land grant contract with a group of investors originally headed by William Smalling Peters to recruit 200 families from outside Texas to settle in the North Texas area.  Peter’s Colony is formed.

1841 - May 21 – General Edward H Tarrant leads volunteers at Battle of Village Creek against Caddo, Cherokee, and Tonkawa tribes opening the region for further settlement.

1841 - August – General Tarrant orders a military outpost built near Village Creek. Bird’s Fort – named for Jonathan Bird – was built south of present day Euless (later abandoned in answer to the threat of Comanche attack).

1843 - September 29 – Treaty signed by Sam Houston, General Edward H. Tarrant, Ed Terrell, and several Indian tribes in the area (first Caddo, then also Anadarko, Biloxi, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Delaware, Hainai, Kichai, Tawakoni, Waco and others).  Bird’s Fort reestablished.

1846 to 1848 - John Hust from Tennessee filed a land claim on Walker Creek and may have been one of the first settlers in Hurst.  Soon afterward about a dozen settlers chose this area as their home.

1848 - Hamilton Bennett homesteads a section of land east of the Birdville community and builds a log cabin about where east Loop 820 and Trinity Boulevard intersect today. 

1849 - December 20 – Tarrant County created from Navarro County.  Named for General Edward H. Tarrant, Indian fighter, hero of the Mexican War, and a member of the Texas Congress.  Birdville, at the site of the present-day Shannon Learning Center, was named county seat.

1850 - August – First county election held in a log cabin in Birdville.

1851 - After Hamilton Bennett’s wife dies he establishes a public cemetery on top of a small hill nested among some live oak trees on the norther edge of his property. One of the first public cemeteries in Tarrant County, it is called the Post Oak Cemetery.  The cemetery is adjacent to the Parker Family Cemetery on Cardinal Road in Hurst.

1853 - Hamilton Bennett decides to leave the area.

1853 - Isaac Parker migrates to the area with his wife and five children from the little town of Elkhart on the Navasota River.  Parker buys a section of land from Hamilton Bennett, including the log cabin, just south of present-day Hurst.  The land reaches from south of Highway 10 to the Trinity River.  

1856 - November – Fort Worth was made the county seat.  Fort Worth won the election by 3 votes over Birdville that were later found to be illegal.

1857 - Randol Mill built south of Hurst on the Trinity River.  It was operated by R.A. Randol until 1916.

1860 - Isaac Parker’s niece, Cynthia Ann was “freed” from Peta Nocona’s tribe by Texas Ranger Captain Sul Ross at the Battle of Pease River.  Isaac Parker goes to Fort Cooper in Throckmorton County to identify his niece and brings her home to his log cabin in Tarrant County.

1865 - Daniel Arwine comes to Texas from Indiana.  He settled in what is now southeast Hurst.  He built a log cabin with a dog-run with room for sleeping and one for cooking.

1866 - Isham’s Chapel Methodist Church was founded with eleven charter members. One room was used for a school house.  Today it’s known as First United Methodist Church of Hurst.

1866 - William L. Hurst comes from Horse Shoe Bend, Tennessee with his wife and several children.  The Hurst family settle first near Grapevine, then moved to Bedford before finally settling about a mile north of Highway 10 in Hurst. 

1867 - Isaac Parker’s wife, Lucy, dies in 1867 and Parker, aware of a cemetery on the northern edge of his property called the Post Oak Cemetery, Parker decides to set aside a small patch of land adjacent to the Post Oak Cemetery to become the Parker Family Cemetery

1880 - Jeff Souder family comes to Hurst from Indiana.

1881 - James Mardecai Anderson comes to Hurst from Indiana and settled at Arthur Drive and Highway 10 and begins to farm.

1881 - Enoch and Sarah Sexton come to Hurst from Indiana.  They brought 17 wagons and hack with them.

1909 - Community name changed from “Ormel” to “Hurst” upon completed of the Rock Island line built through on land donated by W. L. Hurst in exchange for the establishment of a depot named for him. 

1927 - The Library is first established as a county station by the Fort Worth Public Library with an appropriation budgeted by the Commissioner's Court. Mrs. Jesse Powell (formerly Miss Inza Page) is the librarian. She operates the Library only a few hours a week. Books are kept in a large wooden box with a lock and stored in the cloakroom of the South Hurst School.

1927 Star-Telegram publisher, Amon Carter, Sr., buys the Isaac Parker log cabin and moves it to his ranch and has the building restored to its original condition (After Carter’s death, his foundation donated the log cabin to the Log Cabin Village in Fort Worth.).

1949 - First Post Office established in Hurst inside Emma’s Café on what was once called Highway 183, now known as Highway 10.  Bill Souder, later to become the mayor of Hurst, was the first postmaster.

1950 - Population 200.

1951 - Ground breaking ceremonies were held for the Bell Helicopter Plant.

1952 - Hurst incorporated as a general law city on September 25, 1952 with a total population of 2,700.

1955 - Hurst and Euless school districts merge (joined by Bedford in 1958).

1956 - City Charter adopted – Home Rule Government – Population 5,700.

1957 - A 12' x 20' building is erected by the city next to City Hall just off Holder Drive. The building costs $1000 and is furnished with wooden shelves, an old vanity for a desk, and a single light bulb. There is no typewriter or charge out equipment. All books still belong to the County; books are not cataloged.

1960 - Population 10,520.

1960 - 1000 square feet in the new Civic Center at 700 Mary Drive is allotted to the Library. All city offices, except the Police Department, are housed in this new building.  In March, the Library is included in the City budget and S1,500 is allocated for books and other materials.

1963 - Population 15,000.

1966 - Population 20,000.

1968 - Tarrant County Junior College Northeast Campus opens.  Today it is known as TCC Northeast.

1970 - Population 27,215.

1972 - Northeast Mall opens as the largest indoor mall in Tarrant County.

1974 - January 13 – Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport opens.

1977 - Fifty years after establishment of the Library, a bond vote passes approving $1.1 million for a new Library facility to be built on Precinct Line Road.  

1980 - Population 31,420.

1990 - Population 33,574.

2000 - Population 38,337.

2000 - Trinity Railway express (TRE) begins running between Fort Worth and Dallas with a stop at the Hurst/Bell station.

2005 - A bond vote authorized $1.5 million for improvements to the Library along with construction of a new Senior Center and a new Fire Station #2.  

2010 - Population 37,412.

2010 - Hurst Conference Center opens.

2011 - The newly expanded Library reopens.

2017 - Population 39,160.

Historical Markers of Interest in or near Hurst

 Arwine Cemetery  Arwine Cemetery Road
 Florence School  Tarrant County Northeast Campus, Precinct Line Road and Harwood Road.
 Isham Chapel  First United Methodist Church, 530 Elm Street 
 William Letchworth Hurst  Heritage Park, Pipeline Road
 Parker/Post Oak Cemetery   1400 Block of Cardinal Drive
 Randol Mill    Precinct Line Road and Randol Mill Road