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The Bridgeport Historical Society applied for and was granted Five State Historical Markers. "Toll Bridge & Old Bridgeport" "Bridgeport Coal Mines" "Bridgeport Lodge No. 587" "Col. William H. Hunt" and "Republic of Texas' Santa Fe Expedition in Wise County". The "First United Methodist Church" "First Presbyterian Church" and the "First Baptist Church" were granted State Historical Markers.
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Marker Text
When Butterfield Overland Mail traversed this area (1858-61) on St. Louis to San Francisco Route, a crossing over the West Fork of the Trinity was a necessity. Col.W.H. Hunt on Feb 11, 1860, obtained a charter and built a Toll Bridge here (50 yds. W). The Overland Mail ceased operation as Civil War began. The bridge soon collapsed. However, a settlement had begun here, and in 1873 Charles Cates, a Decatur merchant, spanned the river with an iron bridge.

When the Rock Island Railroad built to this point in 1893, the town moved but retained its historic name.


Toll Bridge & Old Bridgeport
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Once a staple of Bridgeport's economy, coal was discovered here in later part of the 19th century. Diggers hit a vein 60 feet deep while seeking water. Mine No. 1 lies under Northeast Bridgeport, and entire area is honeycombed with tunnels and shafts.

Wise County Coal company was chartered Aug.23, 1882, by C.D. Cates, J.C. Carpenter, J.G. Halsell, J.J. Lang, H. Greathouse, and D. Waggoner. The firm was bought in 1900 by Col. W. H. Aston of Virginia. Renamed Bridgeport Coal Company, it had 500 employees at zenth. Most of the mines closed in 1929 due to increased use of oil and gas. The last mine closed in the early 1940's


Bridgeport Coal Mines

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On December 12, 1884, The bridgeport Masonic Lodge was granted a charter by the Grand Lodge of Texas. The twenty-seven charter members consisted primarily of local miners, ranchers, and business men. The group met in a tin building on the old town square until about 1900, when a second building was completed. A two-story brick building was purchased from Dr. K.L. Buckner in 1925. From its beginning the Lodge has been active in community affairs, with its membership providing civic leadership and local public support.


Bridgeport Lodge No.587

A.F. & A. M.

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Organized in 1893, the same year the Rock Island Rail Line reached the Bridgeport area, this congregationfirst held its worship services under brush arbors and in the masonic lodge building.methodist circuit rider Ben W. Bounds preached the first sermon on June 23 of that year. Within the first year of the church's founding, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Johns donated land for a church building on what became known as "Methodist Hill".

The Methodists in Bridgeport worshiped in their new space until it burned and was rebuilt during the pastorate of the Rev. Jack Lowery at the end of the 19th century. Growth and development throughout the 20th century resulted in the First Methodist Church moving to a new site with expanded facilities in the 1960's.

As Bridgeport grew from a coal mining town to a commerical center for area ranches and dairy farmers to a popular tourist destination for vistors to Lake Bridgeport, the Methodist Church has maintained its active commitment to the community. Outreach and education programs play a strong role in the congregation's mission and ministry. For more than 100 years, The First Methodist Church of Bridgeport has been a significant part of the town's heritage.


First United Methodist Church

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Born in Ithaca, New York, William Hudson Hunt became a principal figure in the development of Wise County. He came to Texas in 1836, joining the War For Independence. He then served in the Army of the Texas Republic, participating in the Santa Fe Expedition. His engineering and surveying skill led to an appointment to the council which located the site of the Texas Capitol. He also surveyed public and school lands and proposed roadways.

In 1855, Col. Hunt became an early Wise county pioneer, settling along the Trinity River's West Fork. He built his residence and ranch headquarters on a hill (later Cactus Hill) at the confluence of a creek (later Hunt's Creek) with the West Fork. He and his wife, Catherine (Cordell), raised five children on the land. Hunt built livestock and grazing operations, and together with neighbors, including noted rancher Daniel Waggoner, he began a cattle business that later thrived. Hunt also specialized in raising sheep.

Col. Hunt was also a community leader. He laid out the County Seat of Taylorsville (later Decatur) and became postmaster at Cactus Hill. He was also active in church and Masonic activities. Additionally, he led residents in a successful effort to encourage routing of the Butterfield Overland Mail Route through Wise County.

In 1861, after the death of his wife, Col. Hunt moved his family to Decatur. His death in 1864 was the result of a wreck caused by a runaway team of horses leading his vehicle. Col. Hunt and other family were originally buried in their family cemetery in Cactus Hill. But the construction of a dam and creation of Lake Bridgeport led to their reinterment here. Today, Col. Hunt is remembered as a pioneer, rancher and noted leader in the early days of Wise County. 

A more detail account of the life of Col Hunt prepared by W.D Woodruff can be read by clicking on COL. HUNT


Col. William H. Hunt
Dedication Agenda
Dedication Ceremony Courtesy of Bridgeport Index
View Photographs made at the dedication ceremony by clicking here.

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