COOKE COUNTY. Cooke County (B-17) is located in north central Texas, on the Oklahoma border. The approximate center of the county is at 33°40' north latitude and 97°15' west longitude. Gainesville, the county seat and largest population center, is located seven miles south of the Red River and seventy-one miles north of Dallas. The county comprises 905 square miles. The central section of the county is part of the Grand Prairie; it is flanked by a small section of the Eastern Cross Timbers on the east and the Western Cross Timbers on the West. The rolling terrain is surfaced by mixed soils ranging from sandy to loam and from red to black. Grassy prairie predominates in the west. The county is forested mainly with blackjack oak, post oak, and hackberry, and with elm, pecan, walnut, and cottonwood along the creeks and rivers. The altitude increases from 700 feet on the eastern border to nearly 1,000 feet in the west. The northern quarter of Cooke County drains into the Red River, and the remaining three-quarters is part of the watershed of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. Three lakes are found within the county's boundaries: Lake Kiowa, Hubert H. Moss Lake, and Lake Texoma. A fourth lake, Lake Ray Roberts, dammed in Denton County, covers much of southeastern Cooke County. Temperatures range from an average high of 96° F in July to an average low of 32° in January. The average rainfall is about thirty-four inches a year. The growing season extends for 226 days.
Before the coming of Anglo-American settlement Cooke County stood on the borderlands between the Caddo Indians to the east and the Comanches in the west. The first Europeans to visit the county may have been Spaniards on expeditions during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, but no permanent settlements were made. The county was included in the Cameron land grant, a Mexican grant of 1828, but no settlers came.
Cooke County was established by an act of the Texas legislature on March 20, 1848, and named for William G. Cookeqv, a hero of the Texas Revolution. The boundaries of the original county encompassed its present area, along with territory that became Montague, Clay, Wise, and Jack counties. Cooke County assumed its present boundaries in 1857. It was crossed by several early trails, including the Mormon Trail, a branch of the Chisholm Trail, and the Butterfield Overland Mail route. Settlements in the northern extension of the Peters colony reached the southeastern edge of the county by the late 1840s. Fort Fitzhugh was established in 1847 to protect area settlements against Indian raids, the last of which occurred in the western part of the county in January 1868. Early settlers employed Daniel Montague to locate a site for a county seat fifteen miles west of the Grayson county line. They planned to name the town Liberty, but the state rejected that name because another settlement near Houston had claimed it. Col. William F. Fitzhugh, commander at the fort, proposed that the town be named for his former commander, Gen. Edmund Pendleton Gaines. Gainesville, founded in 1850, has been the county seat since the organization of the county. The southern and eastern parts of the county were settled by people primarily from Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri. The western part had only scattered settlements prior to the late nineteenth century, when German land speculators founded the towns of Muenster in 1889 and Lindsay in 1891.
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