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Additional information about Houston County, Texas

Excerpt from:

A Mini History of Houston County

Houston County, A Constitional County of the Republic of Texas, June 12 1837

By Eliza Bishop

[This mini history is found on several web sites]

       Around 1820, the area west of the original Nacogdoches Land District, along the Neches and over to the Trinity River, attracted settlers.  People quickly began to acquire land, either from the Mexican Government or as a bounty for service in The War for Independence, and on April 22, 1837, those settlers of the area petitioned the Congress of the Republic of Texas, asking that a county be created. Some 110 names were signed to the petition. At that time, the county was much larger than that of the present, as the original boundaries included all of Anderson, Trinity, and part of Henderson counties.

            This county was first created on June 12, 1837, under the newly formed Republic of Texas. Crockett was later selected as the county seat and incorporated by an Act of the Republic of Texas on December 29, 1837. Elijah Gossett's son, Andrew Edwards Gossett, [see petition] gave the townsite of Crockett, so he and his father Elijah were given the privilege of naming the town and county. The town, they named for Elijah's old friend, former neighbor, and Tennessee Scout, David Crockett, who had camped near the area en route to the Alamo and his death in 1836. The county, they named for their former Commander at the Battle of San Jacinto and the first President of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston.

            The Indians were much in evidence in the county from the 1830's through the 1850's. Several massacres of families are known: Edens-Madden, John Sheridan and Daniel McLean, and the Campbell family. Forts and block houses were built for protection. The best known presently is Old Block House near the community of Austonio, built for protection of families on Mustang Prairie. It was from this stockade that Elisha Clapp and Major John Wortham directed an independent company of Rangers commissioned by President Sam Houston. The first courthouse on the central square was a log fort and settlers often fled to it confines for shelter. There was also Fort Brown in the northeast area of Houston County between Augusta and Grapeland; Fort Houston, where Palestine is today; and Box and Hallmark Forts for east and west county settlers.

            The Neches and Trinity rivers contributed much to the county's development, providing natural boundaries, a means of transportation, and opportunity for business. Ferries were established along both of them. Hall's Bluff, Alabama Crossing, Hyde's and Robin's Ferries and Calhoun's Landing were some of the Trinity stops. Kennedy, Bates, and Anderson's ferries on the Neches served the eastern area along with Bodenheimer's Landing and Shook's Bluff.

            The famous link between the rivers which joined the east and west was El Camino Real, The King's Highway, which traverses the county. Stage stops were common along this route, with the best known also serving as the residences of Jacob Masters and Joseph Redmond Rice. This road was the freeway of the 1800's, providing movement of pioneers, soldiers, supplies, mail, and the output of raw materials.

            Cotton was the King Crop from the 1840 through the 1900's. Farmers would move their crops to the river and flatboat it down the Trinity to Galveston for sale and export to New Orleans. The cotton was grown with slave labor. After the Civil War, the focus was changed and the virgin pine timberlands of eastern Houston County gained recognition. The Four C Mill, one of the largest sawmilling operations for all time, was established in the Ratcliff area during the 1900's and ran for nearly 20 years, or until the 120,000 acres of virgin pine timber were clear cut. The economy of the county today remains basically in agriculture, timber, and ranching.

Also see:

Handbook of Texas Online

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