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Peters Colony: 182 Years

The Peters Colony: 182 Years Ago

August 30th marks the 182nd birthday of the signing of contracts to give away land in Texas in an area that would be known as the Peters Colony.

Replica of the Peters Colony Land Office. Farmers Branch Historical Park

William Smalling Peters (1779-853), an English immigrant living in Kentucky, secured a contract with the Republic of Texas to attract colonists to settle in Texas.

The Republic of Texas was attempting to populate the new republic and establish a tax base to fund the fledgling government. A married man could receive up to 640 acres for immigrating to Texas, and a single man could receive 320. Peters, acting as an empresario, could keep up to one-half of a colonists grant as payment and receive an additional ten sections of land for every 100 families brought to Texas.

Peters, and later the Texas Emigration & Land Company, had difficulties fulfilling their obligations and legal battles over possession of colonists’ land eventually led to an armed confrontation, known as the Hedgcoxe War of 1852, in which the agent for the Land Company, Henry O. Hedgecoxe, was forced to flee from his office.

After nearly ten legislative actions, lawsuits, armed confrontation, and twenty years of arguing, the Peter’s Colony brought little profit to Peters and his original investors. The Graham brothers would pick up the right to act as empresarios in 1871 and would be much more successful and would bring many families to the Young County area and amass over 125,000 acres in personal holdings for their efforts.

In the News

Tony Widner, President
Covered wagon museum exhibit
Shannon Plowman Potts, Treasurer

We’re in the News!

The Young County Museum of History and Culture [YCMHC] is one of 15 museums that make up the Regional Museum Alliance [RMA], based in Wichita Falls. The YCMHC does not officially have a home yet but does house many of the museum’s artifacts in the old Radford Wholesale Grocery and Warehouse in Graham, Texas.

Tony Widner, president of the Board for the YCMHC and Shannon Potts, Board treasurer gave a tour and interview about the new museum. Widner and Potts have been the key backers in getting the museum plans going and are the driving force in propelling the museum into a place to learn all things about Young County history.

According to Widner and Potts, the museum is currently housed in Radford Wholesale Grocery Store and is more than 100 years old. It has a rich history all its own. Widner says the railroad tracks ran directly behind the grocery store and offers deliveries of all the groceries and goods for the entire region. Grocers would come from all over to pick up their orders at the Radford Grocer. The location houses a great many artifacts and is under consideration to permanently house the museum. Currently, the place is only open to tour by special appointment.

Widner and Potts said the museum’s goal is to focus on Young County history and later add in local artists’ work. In addition, the duo says they want to shine a brief light on all the other museums in Young County to pique visitors’ interest and then send them to the museums located in other towns in the county to learn more in-depth about that town’s history.

Potts said, “We were told to start small, which is very wise. So, we’re starting small with the stories, and as we get the stories out, we’re hoping to get more to exhibit. We also want to tell how Young County got started and the industries in Young County, such as ranching, farming, oil and gas. There are so many stories to tell in those alone.”

The museum is a 501(c)(3) and is still in the planning and developing phase. The board hopes to have the main website up soon. The website will help build excitement for the museum to come and attract donors and volunteers.

Widner explained a little more about where the museum was at as far as planning and the focus of the museum.

“We still are working on our master plan. Right now, the strategic plan is getting everybody interested in the history part to make them want more and then with that. We’re also looking at putting together a mobile museum to take it all to Newcastle and other towns. Loving impacts this [Mobile Museum] with some of the people in loving, they’re wanting to give us some of their stuff from their community center because they’re going to be doing some changes there. We can take it around to all the places so that everybody in Young County will see what has happened here. You know I’ve been to Tombstone Deadwood Cheyenne. A lot of these western towns and have one story. They have one or two groups of people that they have told the story over and over.”

Young County has a rich history with many, many stories to tell, according to Widner. To learn more about the YCMHC, please visit their Facebook page at, Young County Museum of History and Culture.

Story by Will Sadler | Photojournalist
Published 9 September 2021

Cheyenne Wuthrich

Meet our Photographer!

Young County is fortunate to have a world class photographer living “just down the road”! Meet Cheyenne Wuthrich — mother, wife and artist. She’s the driving force behind Wuthrich Photography & Design located in Graham. It is her talent displayed in (almost) all of the images of this website.

Cheyenne’s specialties include children and families, scenery, fine art for the home, advertising shoots, portraits and more. Visit her website to see more of Cheyenne’s work.

What Happened Here

Young County was one of the most active locations of the Old West, and it was definitely considered the most dangerous prairie crossing in Texas. Take a look at this list of topics, just to get an idea of our wild history.

  • Site of frontier Fort Belknap
  • Location of the Brazos River Indian Reservation
  • Starting point for the Goodnight-Loving cattle trail
  • Wayside stopping point for the Butterfield Overland Stage Line
  • Location of the infamous Warren wagon train massacre
  • Home of Britt Johnson, a Texas legend
  • Brief history of coal mining near the town of Newcastle
  • The town that started with no name
  • Milie Durkin, Indian captive
  • Satanta, the most famous of the Kiowa chiefs
  • The Kiowa Indian peoples
  • Elm Creek raid of 1864
  • Stovall Hot Wells
  • The Marlow brothers in 1889
  • Home of the largest federal court jurisdiction in US history
  • Colonel E. S. Graham and his brother, Gustavus Graham
  • Texas Rangers and their activity in the county
  • Homelands of the Comanche people
  • Santa Claus bank robbers
  • First murder trial of Native Americans in a civilian court
  • Chronicles of the US Army Cavalry stationed in Young County and environs
  • Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving, famous cow men
  • Birthplace of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association
  • Oil discovery and production
  • Charles Hipp and the Hipp Rodeos
  • Young County at war (various eras)
  • The era of cowboys and ranching
  • Cynthia Ann Parker and her son, Quanah Parker, last chief of the Comanche
  • Early days of the railroads
  • Indian depredations and fighting
  • Murder of Confederate commander of Fort Belknap
  • Minerals in the county
  • Frontier regiments
  • Various ethnic cultures forming our heritage