HOPKINS COUNTY GENEALOGICAL LIBRARY AND TEXAS HERITAGE BOOKSHOP
212 Main Street is committed to the preservation, protection, and promotion of research materials for family and county history.
HOPKINS COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUM AND HERITAGE PARK
416 N. Jackson Street, features 17 restored historical buildings covering 11 acres. The George and Myra Wilson home, built in 1910, has been turned into a museum that houses a doll collection, Civil War memorabilia, women’s apparel, household items and primitive collection of fossils discovered in the northeast Texas region.
HOPKINS COUNTY COURTHOUSE
Celebration Plaza, was made an official Texas Landmark in 1975. The original courthouse along with the entire east side of the square burned in 1894. The current courthouse, made of fireproof, red Texas granite, was built the following year on the northwest corner of the public square. In 2000, a historic preservation grant funded the complete restoration of the edifice with some modern conveniences, such as an elevator and central heating and air added, as well.
HISTORY AND OVERVIEW OF SULPHUR SPRINGS, TEXAS
Founded as Bright Star in the late 1840’s by pioneers who camped and eventually made their homes near the more than 100 natural springs that bubbled from the land, the territory was re-charted in 1870, and due to its central location became the County Seat of Hopkins County, originally held by the town of Tarrant.
In 1871, it was decided to rename the town Sulphur Springs and market the area as a health resort due to the healing waters that flowed beneath the surface of the Northeast Texas soil.
In 1872, a railroad line was extended to Mineola, and visitors and settlers came in great numbers to benefit from the mineral springs and Sulphur baths they had heard about. In addition to its medicinal purposes, the Sulphur water and fresh water springs allowed crops such as corn and wheat to thrive, making Hopkins County an agricultural leader as early as the 1860’s.
In 1879, a railway from Jefferson to Sulphur Springs was built and the community flourished.
A Courthouse was built on the east side of the public square in 1882, and by 1885 Sulphur Springs had Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and two African-American churches, a high school, several private schools, a flour mill, saw mills, furniture factories, foundries and machine ships, wagon factories, tanneries, three hotels, an opera house, two banks, two weekly newspapers (the Sulphur Springs Gazette and the Hopkins County Echo), and a reported population of 2, 500.
In 1894, the town suffered the devastating loss of its courthouse along with the entire east block of the square. The townspeople wasted no time and built a new, fireproof courthouse of red Texas granite the following year.
In 1937, the Carnation Milk Company opened a processing plant in Sulphur Springs, which paved the way for large-scale dairy farming throughout the county.
Playing home to more than 600 grade “A” dairies in past years, Hopkins County became known as the official “Dairy Capitol of Texas” and has remained so for more than 50 years.
Even with the decline of the dairy industry to 137 producers as of April 2006, production numbers were a healthy 54.6 million pounds and consistently for the past number of years have listed Hopkins County as #2 in the state for milk production.
Currently, Hopkins County is making a name for itself in the equine industry. The Civic Center houses a 40,000 square foot livestock pavilion and expansion of the complex with an additional 66,000 square feet, complete with 300 new stalls with warm –up arena and wash racks in the final completion stage.
Horse breeders, from as far away as Montana, Maryland, California and Florida have moved their operations into the area. Annual events such as Mary Bonham’s “Day of the Horse” are drawing attention on the national level as well.
As the population has grown to more than 16,000 local residents, businesses and services have expanded to support the community’s growth.
Seven school districts are in the county with Sulphur Springs ISD being the largest with more than 4,000 students enrolled in five elementary schools, a middle school and high school. There are three private school campuses in the community and a center for higher education, as well. Other districts include Como-Pickton, Cumby, Miller Grove, North Hopkins, Saltillo, Sulphur Bluff and Yantis.
Sulphur Springs has a public library, 3,000 acres of parks, a municipal airport, five motels, more than 50 food service establishments, a 100 bed hospital facility, a police and sheriff department, five banks, and over 115 churches.
As the boundaries of the city expanded and industries moved in, the springs for which the town was named were built upon and all but forgotten.
It seems the local springs that have virtually been inactive for most of the twentieth century may, after all, experience a renewed interest from its townspeople during this twenty-first century.