Information About Crawford, Texas
Crawford is located on highway 317 an FM 185, right in the heart of Texas, just fifteen minutes southwest of Waco. Crawford is halfway between McGregor and Valley Mills. We are south of Dallas (two hours) and north of Austin (one and a half hours).
A Little Crawford History
written by Misti Turbeville
The first settlers were granted land in the Crawford area in the 1830s and 1840s, but signs of a true town did not appear until 1867. Initially called "Tonk Crossing," the tiny town stood at the intersection of roads from Gatesville to Waco and Belton to Fort Worth, providing a stop and remount station and an inn on the Brownwood Stage Line. By 1871 a post office and a school joined the town's inn, trading post, and several other place of business. By 1872 this little town had also acquired a new--Crawford. While the identity of the town's original namesake is still deputed, the list of possible honorees includes the grader of the old creek crossing, a railroad director, a ranger stationed at the inn, and an early pioneer--all with the name of Crawford.
In 1881 the town of Crawford picked up and moved, and with good reason--the Santa Fe Railroad was being built just a mile southwest. Within a few years the town boasted three church, a gin, an inn, a hotel, flour and grist mills, several general stores, a drugstore, and a new two-room school. Farming, especially cotton brought continued economic growth, In the early 1900s the population climbed to over 600 , and Crawford was home to more that 35 modern businesses. Saturdays brought ever more people to town for trade as well as for entertainment that included traveling circuses and medicine shows. As the century progressed, Crawford even proudly opened the doors of its very own "picture show," which specialized in presenting serial western.
The Depression (which for farmers started shortly after World War I) hit Crawford hard, and town's population and number of businesses declined significantly; soon thereafter, Crawford's population and commerce held steady for several decades. Business on "Main Street" dwindled somewhat in the 1980s and 1990s but the community and the school continued to grow, especially after the school earned annual ratings of "exemplary" in TAAS as well as state honors in athletic and academic contests. Since President Bush's move to Crawford, renewed interest has spurred downtown growth once again.
History of the Tonkawa Indians
The Tonkawa Indians appear to have been the first human inhabitants of the Crawford area. These nomads roamed the area between the Trinity and Colorado Rivers, clashing with the Waco Indians and angering the Spanish with their refusal to stay in Spanish missions. Artifacts reveal that the area along the Tonk Creek, now known as Tonkawa Park, was indeed an Indian campground and at time a burial ground. Petroglyphs carved into the creek bed testify to both the Tonkawa presence and the probable influence of the Spanish. While early explorer Zebulon Pike described the Tonkawa as tall, handsome people who exhibited a peculiar clucking in conversation and who owned large droves of horses, other observers of the Tonkawa Indians noted an unsavory tendency to partake of their enemies flesh in a victorious ritual after battle. After their removal to the Brazos Indian Reservation in 1855, only legends remained. Decimated by a smallpox epidemic, 97 Tonkawa Indians again moved in 1884 and only a handful of the tribe exists today in the town of Tonkawa, Oklahoma.