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Map of Palo Pinto County

Jere Benjamin Hart, rancher, the oldest of eight children of Edmond Benjamin and Frances Jane (Jackson) Hart, was born on November 29, 1846, in Butler, Bates County, Missouri. During the Civil War, on July 4, 1862, Hart volunteered for the Confederate Army in Benton County, Arkansas, and served as a private in the Mounted Riflemen Volunteers from the First Regiment of the Cherokee Partisan Rangers. At the close of the war, he spent a year in Dallas with his maternal grandparents, Jerre and Susan Ann (Rice) Jackson. In February 1866 Hart moved to the frontier of Palo Pinto County, Texas. He worked as a ranch hand in Palo Pinto for five years before establishing a homestead. An article in the June 20, 1922, Breckenridge Daily American noted that "J. B. Hart, who moved out onto the present Hart Ranch in the early seventies, was a crack shot with the rifle as well as with the revolver. He was an expert horseman, and in the use of the lariat, the whole range in the Palo Pinto neighborhood couldn't produce a better man." On February 1, 1872, Hart married Mary Joanna Taylor, daughter of Dr. Stephen Slade and Eleanor Aston (Maddox) Taylor, in Palo Pinto, Texas, at the Taylor Hotel, which was owned by the bride's parents. The Harts had nine children, of whom seven lived to adulthood. Ranch life for the Harts was prosperous enough that they could send their five sons to such schools as the University of Minnesota, the University of Chicago, and Texas Christian University. The Hart family attended Cedar Springs Methodist Church near Brad, Texas, and later belonged to the First Christian Church in Caddo. Jere Hart was an organizer of the Cattle Raisers Association of Texas (now the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association). He died on April 3, 1913, at the ranchhouse he had built and was buried at the Brad Cemetery in western Palo Pinto County. After oil was discovered at the Hart Ranch on July 13, 1919, an oil boomtown developed, partly in anticipation of the Cisco and Northeastern Railway crossing the ranchlands; the town was named Jerehart in Hart's honor. In 1974 the Hart Ranch was recorded in the first edition of The Texas Family Land Heritage Registry. In the early 1990s a corncrib built of logs, a one-room log house, and the Hart ranchhouse stood on land still held by Hart descendants.

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Laura Bell Hart Thomson | © 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.

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