FORT WORTH — Lemuel James Edwards settled on the Clear Fork of the Trinity River in 1846, three years before Tarrant County was created from Navarro County. It was considered on the extreme edge of the frontier.
In 1843, a treaty was signed between the Republic of Texas and several Indian tribes at Bird’s Fort, located in present-day Euless. The agreement stated no one could “pass the line of trading houses” which bordered Indian Territory without permission of the President of Texas.
A frontier fort named Camp Worth was established near the confluence of the West and Clear Forks in June, 1849. In August, 1849, Major Ripley A. Arnold moved the camp to a north-facing bluff that overlooked the mouth of the Clear Fork.
Camp Worth was named for U.S. Army General William Jenkins Worth, a veteran of the Mexican-American War.
Since 1849, the county seat was located at Birdville. A battle brewed in 1855 between Fort Worth and Birdville. In 1860, construction of a stone county courthouse was started at Fort Worth.
Lemuel Edwards was born February 18, 1805 in South Carolina. As a young man, he moved to Missouri where he met and married Elizabeth Tucker in 1839. She was the daughter of Aaron Overton, who moved from Virginia to Tennessee before she was born November 13, 1812.
Overton was a farmer and mill operator. He came to Texas later in life and brought a mill he manufactured. It was set up in Dallas County and was one of the first established there. He died in 1859.
The Edwards couple remained in Missouri a few years following their marriage. Lemuel worked as a carpenter and operated a mill, according to biographies in Genealogy Trails.
The move to Texas for the Edwards family came in time to establish a homestead where the future city of Fort Worth would later be located. The newly annexed state of Texas provided them with a 640-acre land grant in 1848.
Edwards continued to purchase land through the years to comprise more than 7000 acres. At the time, the Edwards property stretched from present day 7th Street near downtown Fort Worth, southwest along the Clear Fork Valley and on toward the present-day city of Benbrook. Parcels of the land sold off over the years developed into Mistletoe Heights, Trinity Park, Colonial Country Club, the Fort Worth Zoo, Cityview and Hulen Mall.
Lemuel and Elizabeth Edwards had eight children: Thomas and Richard, the two eldest, were killed in the Civil War; Sarah J. Edwards, Martha Edwards Cresswell, Caswell Overton Edwards, Matilda Edwards Burford, Cynthia Edwards Sisk and Lemuel Edwards.
Edwards purchased about 600 head of cattle from Nick Byers and moved them further west in 1860. However, from 1865 to 1869, the Indian raids and cattle rustlers pretty much stole his entire herd.
Lemuel Edwards was 64 when he was killed October 8, 1869. There was a large estate totaling several hundred thousand dollars in value left to his wife and heirs.
Casswell Overton “C.O.” Edwards, the third son and the eldest living son, took charge of the farm and livestock. As a youth, he spent much of his time in the saddle helping his father and tending to a few head of cattle given him.
C.O. ran his cattle herd on Clear Fork until 1875 when overstocking became a problem. He moved his herd of more than 400 head to Brown County. In the spring of 1876 he moved the herd to Hubbard Creek, near the Callahan and Shackelford County-line.
The cattle herd eventually numbered about 1000 head. In 1879, he moved to Crosby County. In 1883, C.O. sold the entire herd to the Espuela Land and Cattle Company for $85,000.
A year later he bought 60,000 acres of land in Lynn County and purchased 6000 head of cattle from Porter Brothers.
According to Genealogy Trails, Edwards owned 400 to 500 horses and handled sheep from time to time.
The Tarrant County property totaled from 2500 to 3000 acres and was classified mainly as farm land but he also ran about 250 head of cattle, a number of horses and hogs. The cattle breeds were Durhams and Holstein.
C.O. Edwards (1851-1941) and Sally Petty Weddington (1847-1909) were married in December, 1874. Sally was a widow with one son, John T. Weddington (1864-1941). Her father, John F. Petty, was a tobacco planter in Kentucky. C.O. and Sally Edwards had one son, Crawford Overton Edwards (1879-1942).
Crawford and Willyemae Smith Edwards had three children: Cass O. Edwards II (1926-2005), Mary “Sweetie” Edwards Kelly and Colleen Edwards Geren (1928-2012).
Colleen was raised on the Edwards Ranch located on the banks of the Trinity, in the same house as three previous generations; her father, Crawford Edwards, grandfather Casswell Overton Edwards and great-grandfather Lemuel J. Edwards.
Colleen Edwards was married to Preston Murdoch Geren (1923-2013). Their children included: Charles L. Geren, Preston M. Geren III, Eva Geren Motheral, and Chandra Edwards Geren.
In 1954, Colleen and her brother, Cass Edwards II, formed Cassco Land Company Inc. “to thoughtfully develop the family ranch.” They were recipients of the Charles Goodnight Ranching Heritage Award on behalf of the Edwards Ranches.
In 2009, the Edwards Family Ranches was recipient of the W.A. “Bill” King Award for Excellence in Agriculture. The award, named for Bill King, founder of the Fort Worth Farm and Ranch Club and longtime manager of the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show, recognized a business or individual who has significantly contributed to the agriculture or agribusiness industry. — firstname.lastname@example.org