On Monday night, October 8, 1951, a group of men gathered at the Cleburne Livestock Auction Barn – their purpose? To form a group to promote good will among horsemen and other area citizens, to create interest in western stock horses and to help preserve the traditions of the Old West. Present for that meeting were Claton Holland, Earl King, Richard White, Ray Porter, Roy Burton, R.B. Gillis, E.E. Wheeler, Bill White and H.H. Johnson.
One week later the Johnson County Sheriff’s Posse was formed. Charter members paying dues at that meeting were Claton Holland, Earl King, Richard White, Ray Porter, Roy Burton, R.B. Gillis, E.E. Wheeler, Bill White and H.H. Johnson, Earl King, Raymond Houston, Bill Finnell, Homer Fergason, Homer McGowan, Bill Chambless, Jack Fowler, L.M. Elrod, Jesse H. Tutt, R.M. Lillard, T.K. Lillard, John Ezell, A.M. Wilmoth, Creed Rogers, S.M. Bayless, Donald Diamond, Jack Whitlock, Bob Bradbury, John W. Howard, Dick Landers and Floyd Davis.
H.H. Johnson was elected that night to serve as the first Captain of the Posse with Roy Burton as his Lieutenant, Bill White as Secretary-Treasurer, Ray Porter as Corral Boss and T.K. Lillard as Wrangler. At this organizational meeting, members also adopted the official uniform of Levi’s, gray chambray shirt and a red neck scarf.
During the first couple of years, the Posse leased the fair grounds and arena from the North Central Texas Fair and Rodeo Association, and obtained permission to construct one building on the grounds.
The very first three day RCA Rodeo held at the fair grounds May 14, 15, and 16 of 1953 was Sponsored by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Posse.
In 1954 the Posse members built a clubhouse for meetings on the fairgrounds and helped the Johnson County Centennial Committee with their pageant and by staging a train robbery as their part of the centennial celebration.
In 1955 the members of the Sheriffs Posse formed a polo team, which only lasted one year.
1956 was a significant growth year for the Posse. They formed the Junior Posse, led by E.L. Hoffman, Homer Fergason, Ed King, Bob Watson, Buddy Harris Jess Tutt and Tom Davis. The Posse elected it’s first Sweethart, Patsy Lillard, and kept busy with parades in Weatherford, Mineral Wells, Grandview and Waxahachie, Cowtown Posse, and the Fort Worth Stock Show parade.
In 1962, the Posse purchased their present 33 acre site as it’s permanent headquarters. The clubhouse was moved from the fairgrounds to the new site, and construction on a new arena was begun.
In 1963 the arena was finished, a sound system installed, six rows of bleacher seating and restroom facilities were added. Baker Brothers Lumber Company donated a building which was formerly Bill Fagen’s Drive In, which served as the main concession stand.
In 1964 the Blue Barn was built, six more rows of bleacher seating and 59 box seats were added to the arena.
1985 saw the construction of a new, modern concession stand.
The bleachers were rebuilt, to bring seating to approximately 5000 in 1995.
Sky boxes were added in 2002.
From our humble beginnings on leased land in 1951 to the present day modern facilities now constructed at the Posse Headquarters, we’ve come a long way. Many members have worked tirelessly throughout these past 60 plus years to make those who attend events at the Posse Grounds as comfortable as possible. From a single building to a full service complex, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Posse is still going strong with the same type of dedicated people who initially organized the group.
Many of the organizations that hold events there do so free of charge. Among them are the 4-H, Johnson County Junior Livestock Association, and almost anything that can benefit children. The Posse proudly lends their facilities to those who specifically cater to working with handicapped children.