It may not surprise many Texans that, based on our unique history and culture, Texas has forged its own path in terms of governing.
Our state’s borders cover more than 268,000 square miles, putting us in second place by size to Alaska. Our 29 million people place us in second place for population size, behind California.
However, when it comes to local government, as reported by the Texas Tribune a couple of years ago, we took a different approach, establishing 254 counties – more than any other state:
Basically, Texas is big, and the state’s founders wanted to keep its local governments small. In the state’s early days — Texas became a state in 1845 — Texans needed to be close to those local governments, which were responsible for courts, jails, schools and roads, said lawyer David Brooks, who specializes in Texas county government.
Brooks said counties needed to be small enough that residents could travel on horseback to and from their courthouse in a day. Most farmers couldn’t afford to take more than one day off to travel to the county seat.
As the state expanded throughout the years and the population increased, the number of counties did, too.