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May 28, 1880: Brackettville, the county seat of Kinney County in Texas, is on U.S. Highway 90 twenty-two miles northeast of the Rio Grande and 125 miles west of San Antonio. It is named after Oscar Brackett, who established the first general dry goods store near the site of Forth Clark in 1852. Brackett, as it was called originally, was established on the San Antonio-El Paso Road, and by 1857 its Sargent Hotel and small restaurant were a regular stop for the San Antonio-San Diego stage line. The Texas State Historical Association reports that the community experienced a period of steady growth after the Civil War, attracting cattle rustlers, buffalo hunters and gamblers a true town of the wild west. In 1868 Brackett had ten homes and a population of fifty. It was designated the county seat of Kinney County when the county was established in 1876. Brackettville enjoyed a period of exceptional prosperity during the period by 1878, as nearby Fort Clark swelled with thousands of soldiers. The town grew rapidly, and many businesses, constructed of limestone blocks quarried nearby, were established. The population soared to near 1,500 and seemed on the way to prosperity. But on May 28, 1880 dry air sweeping in from New Mexico met up with moisture streaming out of the Gulf of Mexico. The dynamics of the weather system produced a cloudburst that dumped more than a foot of rain in less than 2 hours devastating the town. Much of the town was rebuilt on higher ground nearby , but it would never be the same again. Despite the population of Texas increasing from 1.5M in 1880 to almost 30M today, 20 times increase, Brackettville’s population remains close to its total from 140 years ago.
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