Mansfield is a suburban city in the U.S. state of Texas, and is part of the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex area. The city is located mostly in Tarrant county, with small parts in Ellis and Johnson counties. Its location is approximately 30 miles from Dallas and 20 miles from Fort Worth, and is adjacent to Arlington.
In 1856, Julian Feild purchased 540 acres (2.2 km2) in the Mansfield area. Man and Feild completed their three-story brick grist mill sometime between 1856 and 1859. The mill, which produced flour and meal, was the first built in North Texas to utilize steam power and enjoyed patronage as far south as San Antonio and as far north as Oklahoma. The location of the mill in southeastern Tarrant County perhaps reflects the advanced state of wheat cultivation in the area and the ready availability of wood to feed the mill’s steam boilers.
Feild opened a general merchandise store at the same time as the mill, located across Broad Street. He built a log house for his family, which also served as an inn for travelers and customers. By 1860, the nucleus of the future city existed. The first post office was established that year, with Julian Feild as postmaster.
During the American Civil War, the Man and Feild Mill supplied meal and flour to the Confederate States Army, hauling it to Shreveport, Louisiana, and Jefferson City, Missouri. As was common practice, the owners tithed ten percent of the mill’s production to the Confederacy. The small community around the mill was unique in Tarrant County in that it prospered throughout the Civil War. “Feild’s Freighters”, assembled in ox-drawn wagon trains, went as far as Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where a part of the Indian Wars raged in the southern plains in the late 1860s and 1870s.
The prospering community which had grown up around the Man and Feild mill took on the name of “Mansfeild”, a combination of the names of the founders. Repeated misspellings over the years resulted in the acceptance of the conventional spelling of “Mansfield.” The town incorporated in 1909, continuing to be a hub for the surrounding farmland.
In 1956, a federal court ordered the Mansfield Independent School District to desegregate; the first such order in Texas. Protests by 300 whites in front of Mansfield High School, to prevent three black students from enrolling, touched off one of the longest-running desegregation battles of the Civil Rights Movement. Mansfield’s school quietly desegregated in 1965 as it faced a lack of federal funds.
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