Cuero is named for "Cuero Creek." Cuero is Spanish for "rawhide."
The Cuero Story
History of Cuero
Many Cuero citizens migrated to escape the hurricanes that had destroyed Indianola, Texas. Indianola once rivaled Galveston as a gulf port. Some families went so far as to dismantle their homes in Indianola and rebuilt them in Cuero. The first hurricane hit on September 15, 1875. The town was full because of visitors attending a trial that was a result of the Taylor-Sutton Feud. Fatalities were estimated at 150 to 300. Only eight buildings were left undamaged by the storm. On August 19, 1886 a second hurricane hit and was accompanied by a fire.
Long before Cuero was founded in 1873, it was a stopping point along the Chisholm Trail cattle route to Kansas. Cuero got its name from Cuero Creek, called “Arroyo del Cuero,” or “Creek of the Rawhide,” by the Spanish referring to the way Native Americans would tan cattle hides in the creek bed. Flash forward to 1908 when the first turkey dressing house opened in Cuero, and area farmers began focusing on producing the poultry in larger numbers. Visitors came from miles to watch as the farmers herded their turkeys to the packing house and in 1912 the event was officially named the “Turkey Trot.” This became a favorite event for journalists and travelers, growing into one of the town’s most popular events: the Cuero Turkeyfest.
In the late 1800s, Cuero grew almost overnight. Business and the railroad were booming. At this time, the population increases were due to the commerce, but also due to the destruction of Indianola, Texas from a hurricane in 1875. Indianola once rivaled Galveston as a gulf port. The first hurricane hit Indianola on September 15, 1875. The town was full because of visitors attending a trial that was a result of the Taylor-Sutton Feud and as such, fatalities were estimated at 150 to 300. Some families went so far as to dismantle their homes and rebuild them in Cuero. Only 8 buildings were left undamaged by the storm.
Possibly the most infamous part of the Cuero Story is the history of the Sutton Taylor Feud. The Sutton and Taylor families were pioneers of DeWitt County settlers. The sources and causes of their family friction are lost in the midst of time, but their family loyalties and the frontier ethic were expressed in the phrase, "I'll die before I'll run" and the feud resulted in the death of many good men on both sides before law and order was restored in DeWitt County by the Texas Rangers.
In 1876 the voters of DeWitt County approved the transfer of the County Seat from Clinton to Cuero. The City of Cuero was organized in 1873 and OL Threlkeld was elected the first mayor of the city. In 1886 another terrible storm hit the Cuero area and those people who still lived in Indianola moved to Cuero finally with their families.
In 1894 the old frame courthouse burned down and in March 1895, the corner stone of the present courthouse was laid. This same year, Mr. Jim Howerton established the Cuero Daily Record and managed it until his death in 1935.
The Turkey Trot, which has evolved into the present-day Turkeyfest, began in 1912. Traveling salesmen from the north began watching with great interest the droves of turkeys that were driven on foot to the Cuero Market.
In 1908 Cuero's first turkey dressing house was opened and turkey raising began on a large scale on DeWitt County farms. Early in November, the growers would drive their turkeys down country roads and through the city streets to the packing house and the northerners would marvel at the site. They expressed their interest to the locals and year by year the number of visitors would come to Cuero to watch the turkey drive.
In 1912 the Chamber of Commerce sensed the interest of the visitors and wanted to encourage the turkey raising industry for advertising South Texas turkeys, decided to stage a celebration with a turkey drive down the city's main streets. This celebration became an annual tradition attracting news writers, cameramen, journalists and thousands of spectators each year.
The tradition lives on but is now called Turkeyfest and is held every October. Today there is an annual race between turkeys from Worthington, Minnesota and Cuero. Also, there is a carnival, live entertainment, arts and crafts, and much more during the three-day event.
The first public school was established in 1884. The Cuero Independent School District was established in 1911. The story of the district, board members and even students has created the legacy of the Cuero Gobblers. The first woman to be elected to the school board occurred in 1961, Mrs. Susan Wallis. The Gobblers even have an Olympian in their midst. In 1964, Fred Hansen won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in Pole Vaulting. The Cuero Gobblers have consistently led the way in athletic excellence, winning the football state championship in 3A in 1973 with a 21-7 win over Mount Pleasant. They would go on to win state another 2 years in 1974 and 1987. Today, Cuero still has a great football team and has expanded its excellence in athletics in golf and basketball. In fact, the Cuero Gobblers are now 4A Division II State Champions.