Dexter is near the Red River twenty-five miles northeast of Gainesville in extreme northeastern Cooke County. It began as a town around 1870 with the arrival of the first settlers, Jesse Morris, S. E. and Dick Collum, and Bill Munday. The first choice for a townsite was Sugar Hill, three miles east of the final location, which was chosen because it had a natural spring that offered a stopping point for travelers. Morris is credited with the idea of naming the town after a famous racehorse of that time. By 1873 Dexter had its own post office, and by the early 1880s its population of 300 was served by at least thirty-seven businesses, including four blacksmith shops, three hotels, a district school, two steam gristmills and cotton gins, and four physicians. Dexter was expected to overtake Gainesville as the largest town in Cooke County when residents thought the Denison and Pacific Railway was going to pass through it, but when the rail line passed through Woodbine, a small town twenty miles south, Dexter began to decline. Many businesses and residents moved to other towns, mostly to Ardmore, Indian Territory. On February 28, 1885, residents of Dexter voted thirty to eighteen to incorporate. This incorporation did not stop the steady decline in population, although the city government remained in place until about 1900. From the late 1960s to 1987 seventy people lived in the general area. In 1988 the only institution remaining in Dexter was the Dexter Community Church. In 2000 the population was eighteen.
Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.
Robert Wayne McDaniel | © Texas State Historical Association
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