Texas is a huge state, and its founders wanted to keep residents close to their local governments. That's why it has 254 counties, far more than any other state. County governments are responsible for certain judicial functions, public infrastructure and public safety. At least 32 counties established by Texas law no longer exist, due to changes in the Texas Constitution or political party disputes during the Reconstruction after the Civil War.
The Congress of the Republic of Texas established Bowie County to include the entire region that stretched from Texarkana to Wichita Falls and from the Red River south to Longview in a north-south direction. The land known as the Youth Territory in the Plains of the Panhandle was divided into 54 counties that year, which is why the counties of northwest Texas are square and rectangular. During the colonial period in Texas, the Spanish and Mexican governments issued vast land concessions for businessmen to allow settlement in Texas. The Texas Constitution of 1836 specified that the republic would be divided into counties as necessary and that any new county created by the Texas Congress would require the petition of one hundred free men and would have to cover a minimum of 900 square miles.
Once created, in order for a county to change from a disorganized state to an organized state, citizens of the county had to file a petition with the names of 150 qualified voters to the court of the organized county to which the county was attached. The Constitution of 1876 established requirements for Texas counties, and rules changed once again after Texas became a state in 1845. The first counties in Texas history were called municipalities and date back to Spanish rule, according to the Texas Association of Counties.
11 countiesin total are named after 13 men who died in the Alamo, including a trio of brothers. John Upton died in the Second Battle of Manassas and William Upton later served in Fayette County in the Texas Legislature.
Willacy County was named after William Lewis Willacy, a farmer, property developer and senator from the state of Texas who authored the bill that established it.