The Texas legislature established Wise County in 1856 and directed that a county seat named Taylorsville (in honor of Gen. Zachary Taylor) be founded within five miles of its center. In January 1858 Taylorsville was renamed Decatur in honor of the naval hero Stephen Decatur.

A post office was opened in 1857 in the store of Daniel Howell, the town's first merchant and postmaster. The first school was established in the fall of 1857, and a courthouse was erected in the early 1860s.

The late 1860s saw the establishment of four stores and a hotel in Decatur, which served as a supplier and market for local ranchers.

In the 1880s and 1890s Decatur prospered as a shipping point and market for local farmers, a prosperity that was reflected in the establishment of Decatur Baptist College in 1892, the building of a new courthouse in 1896. Decatur Baptist College was moved to Dallas in 1965.

Old Stone Prison - Erected in 1859 with prisoner labor.

Old Stone Prison

One of the first stone houses built in Decatur. Erected by prison labor around 1859. The main house served as a residence for the Sheriff or a deputy. The basement was used as a jail. Meals for prisoners were sent down in a dumb-waiter located outside the east end of the house. The county sold the property in 1888 to A.H. Whitehead. The house was used as a city water works until 1938. It was then kept as a private residence until 1967, when it was purchased by the Wise County Historical Society as a museum.

 

The Waggoner Mansion

The Waggoner Mansion, located at the end of Main Street in the city of Decatur, was built by cattle baron Dan Waggoner, for a growing family. Sometimes called “El Castile”, this large home is situated on a hill east of town, sitting on thirteen and one-half acres. The house consists of two stories, sixteen rooms, with a full basement and eight fireplaces.

“Thistle Hill” by Rose Porter, describes the mansion in Decatur thusly: “It was constructed of old limestone and decorated with handcrafted wrought iron on the roof and balconies. Half-moon shaped stained glass added an array of color to the tops of the windows and to the large massive hand-carved entrance door. At the peak of the house, an ornate cupola gave great height to the stately home.

 

The inviting first floor entrance hall revealed a winding stairway sweeping up to the second floor. Hand-carved Texas star motif decorated the walnut and oak stairway and woodwork throughout the house. Massive doors with solid brass hardware stood sixteen feet tall, minifying the tall ceilings. Three of the huge doors, enhanced with stained glass, projected rays of colored light in the interior.

Adding an air of elegance to the front parlor, hung a beautiful ornate chandelier. Wrought iron and handmade isinglass fixtures from Denver Complemented the Victorian library, large dining room, and two halls. Also on the first floor were five bedrooms, three marble baths, a keeping room, butler’s pantry, and a huge kitchen with copper sink and accessories. The second floor contained a large game room, three bedrooms, and two marble baths.” The house is enclosed by a wrought iron fence with an archway bearing the name “El Castile”.

The Waggoner Mansion is not open to the public.

© 2004 - 2014, Wise County
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© 2004 - 2015, Wise County
All Rights Reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without permission
Wise County Information Technology
webmaster@co.wise.tx.us

Employee Email

This site uses frames. Click here if you linked directly to this page from a search engine.