In November, Harris County honored a part of its history that has all but disappeared. A Texas Historical Commission marker was erected in Tomball’s Spring Creek Park for Spring Creek County, which was created in 1841 but ruled unconstitutional by Republic of Texas officials in 1842.
The county was formed before Texas was granted statehood in 1845, back when county government played a more intimate role in the lives of citizens, according to documents submitted by local historians Trevia Wooster Beverly and Bernice Mistrot to the Harris County Historical Commission.
Individuals living around Spring Creek were unhappy when the Fourth Congress of the Republic of Texas designated the waterway as the southern boundary of Montgomery County on Jan. 25, 1840. The declaration left communities around Spring Creek far away from the county seats in Montgomery and Harris counties and in need of nearby county services, including a convenient way to pay taxes, file deeds and get in touch with law enforcement.
Frustrated with their isolation, about 130 male citizens who lived near the Spring Creek District in Harris County petitioned the Republic of Texas Congress to create a new county on Nov. 4, 1840, which would include land from both Harris and Montgomery counties near Spring Creek. To fulfill their request, Congress had to find a loophole around the Republic of Texas Constitution. In 1840, the law limited Texas representatives to 40 members until its overall population reached 100,000. And at that time, there were already 40 representatives, but the population was well under 100,000.
Congress’ solution was to found judicial counties, like Spring Creek, which would allow for county services to be established in remote areas, but would not change congressional districts.
Because the judicial counties did not receive separate congressional districts, they were ruled unconstitutional in an 1842 Texas Supreme Court case, Stockton v. Montgomery, and all 16 territories were abolished, Beverly and Mistrot wrote. Spring Creek County was one of four whose name did not survive in future counties and whose territory still remains within its parent counties.