In the mid-19th century, a few hardy settlers of European descent carved out farms in the Clear Fork Valley of present-day Parker County, attracted by the area's springs, tributaries, and a burgeoning market in nearby Fort Worth. For centuries, Comanche and Kiowa had inhabited the land, and a period of dramatic conflict ensued, exacerbated by the Civil War absence of able-bodied husbands and sons. By 1880, ranches and settlements flourished, aided by the Fort Worth-Yuma cattle trail and a Texas and Pacific Railway line connecting Fort Worth to the county seat of Weatherford. As the first mail stop in the newly formed county, Aledo was briefly dubbed Parker Station before having its name changed in 1882--a bow to a railroad engineer's Illinois hometown. Today segments of Bankhead Highway, the nation's first paved transcontinental highway, wind around Aledo, the Annettas, Willow Park, and Hudson Oaks, thriving communities that offer a pastoral lifestyle minutes from the urban amenities of the Fort Worth-Dallas Metroplex. Mere fragments remain of Newburg, Prairie Hill, Willow Springs, and other old settlements, visible only to old-timers and lost to living memory.