The city of Cleburne, established in 1867, developed out of a temporary frontier military installation called Camp Henderson. Soldiers and citizens traveling between two more permanent garrisons, Fort Belknap and Fort Graham, required a watering stopover and the camp, along West Buffalo Creek, provided an ideal location. In March of that same year, Johnson County needed a centrally located county seat and Camp Henderson fit the requirements. Citizens renamed the community Cleburne after Civil War general Patrick R. Cleburne. The West Buffalo Creek watering hole also served cattlemen driving stock along the Chisholm Trail, a factor that has become an important highlight in Cleburne’s historic legacy.
Today, Cleburne visitors can explore a section of the actual Chisholm Trail at the nearby Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum, sponsored by the Johnson County Heritage Foundation, and tour its interpretive center highlighting the brief but rich history of the famous cattle drive trail.
In the heart of downtown Cleburne, the Layland Museum archives an assortment of photographs, documents and artifacts, all housed in the historic former Cleburne Public Library building, a handsome mix of Beaux Arts and Classical Revival architecture completed in 1905. Cleburne is also home to a number of historic residences.