Desdemona, on State Highway 16 in the southeastern corner of Eastland County, is one of the oldest extant Texas settlements west of the Brazos River. Sometime around 1857 a group of settlers built a family fort for protection from the Indians on land owned by C. C. Blair. In 1873 the oldest organization of any kind in Eastland County, the Rockdale Baptist Church, was built nearby. Two years later William and Ben Funderburg acquired the old Fort Blair land, and a town began to develop. By 1877 the town had a post office, and although it was officially named Desdemona for the daughter of the town justice of the peace, for many years it was known as Hogtown for its location on Hog Creek. Some early sources refer to it as Desdemonia or Desdimonia. The main sources of revenue in early Desdemona were trade and agriculture, primarily peanut farming. Economic discontent in the early twentieth century spurred the growth of socialism, but political competition never grew more violent than a yearly picnic and baseball game pitting Socialists against Democrats. By 1892 the town was reported to have a population of 100, and by 1904 it had grown to 340.

The economic climate of Desdemona changed drastically in September 1918, when Tom Dees, director of the recently formed Hog Creek Oil Company, struck oil on land owned by Joe Duke. The discovery put Desdemona among the growing number of oil boomtowns in Eastland County. With speculators and workers flooding in, tents and shacks sprang up throughout the town, and the population may have reached 16,000 at one time. By 1919 the Desdemona field was probably the second largest in the oil belt, and the Hog Creek Oil Company's stockholders were able to sell their $100 shares for $10,250 each. As torrential rains broke an earlier drought, cases of influenza and typhoid reached epidemic proportions. Oil often overflowed tanks and dirtied streams or floated in clouds, making Desdemona an unpleasant place to live. Growing proportionately to the number of new wells was the number of gambling houses and brothels and violent crimes, and in April 1920 the Texas Rangers had to be called in to keep order. The Ku Klux Klan seems never to have garnered as much support in Desdemona as it did in Ranger, a neighboring boomtown, in the 1920s, but a Klan newsletter's reference to "three Kluckers from Desdemona" suggests that an organization did exist there.

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Noel Wiggins | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Desdemona is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Desdemona is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • [Desdimonia]
  • (Hogtown)


Latitude: 32.27041400
Longitude: -98.55033010

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated


Population Count, 2009