The city of Cleburne, Texas, was established on March 23, 1867 to replace Johnson County's former seat of government, Buchanan. Originally named Camp Henderson, it served as a temporary outpost for Johnson County's infantrymen departing for the Civil War. Cleburne derived its name from Patrick R. Cleburne, the general who took command of most of the soldiers.
Prior to the founding of Cleburne, the site was situated around the earliest Johnson County road, which was an old transportation route for wagons used by servicemen marching from Fort Belknap to Fort Graham. The area gradually developed due in part to a reservoir on West Buffalo Creek that drew the interest of travelers, including cattle ranchers from the neighboring Chisholm Trail.
Cleburne erected a post office during its first year as a permanent settlement in 1867. The Cleburne Chronicle, which was the city's first printed publication, was organized the following year. In 1871, Cleburne was formally incorporated and came under the jurisdiction of a mayor-council type of government.
The Alvarado Baptist Association built the Cleburne Male and Female Institute, which initially served as a church-based educational center from 1868 to 1872. The institution eventually became Cleburne's first public school.
The advent of the railroad industry in Cleburne significantly contributed to its growth and development in terms of economic status and population size. From a community of 683 residents in 1870, the city grew to a population of around 12,900 by 1920, notes TSHAOnline.org.