Marion County, Texas

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  • Marion County was created 1860 from Cass County. It is named for Gen. Francis Marion of American Revolution, Revolutionary War general from South Carolina who was nicknamed the "Swamp Fox". [1]

Its county seat is Jefferson. Marion County is in East Texas [2]

Francis Marion.
200 BCE The farming Caddoan Mississippian Indian culture in the area. .[2]
1541 Hernando de Soto expedition resulted in violent encounters. .[2]
1700s The Caddo had no immunity to the European epidemics of the Spanish and French missionaries such as smallpox, measles malaria and influenza epidemics. Many died, and the remainder moved to reservations. .[2]
Shashidahnee (Timber Hill) is the last known permanent Marion County settlement of the Caddo people. [2]
1800s Shawnee, Delaware, and Kickapoo in the area.[2]
1840's - Monterey, Texas is located on Monterey Lake, about 18 miles NE of Jefferson on the Louisiana state line. This is in NE Marion county and was known as part of the {{red|Neutral Ground}}, was a haven for fugitives during this time. [3]

1870 Jefferson became the port to take commercial goods to and transport them out of the county. Marion County did not give up its commercial position of frontier Texas for 30 years, until the railway links bypassed its wharves mid 1870s. Deep South settlers contributed to 90% of residents from the Deep South such as Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, with their slave-based economy of plantations. [4]
1860 Texas legislature formed Marion County from Cass County in 1860 and named it in honor of Revolutionary War Swamp Fox Francis Marion. Many of its settlers had come from the lower southern states, bringing their slaves and the plantation method of farming cotton.[2]
1861- The county voted unanimously for secession from the Union. This county benefitted financially from Confederate government contracts.[2]
1860 total slave population of Marion County was 51%. The number of slaveholders were (213), but they dominated 60% of the county wealth and politics. [4]
1862-65 Marion County thrived throughout the Civil War. It obtained Confederate government. [4] contracts that contributed to its growing economy. It received commission to manufacture cannonballs and rifles for the Confederate States Ordinance Dept. (The Kelly Iron Works)
1862-65 J.B. Dunn's meat packing firm was authorized to supply tinned beef for the Confederate commissary. [4]
1865 -Defeat of Confederacy resulted in federal occupation- a violent period in its history. [4]
Feb.1869 - The "Mittie Stephens, steamboat, caught fire from a torch basket. A spark ignited a haystack olin the steamboat. People died from the fire or from getting caught in the paddlewheel when jumping overboard.. Sixty-one people died [2]
Oct 4, 1869 -George Washington Smith, a delegate to Constitutional Convention, was murdered by vigilantes while in jail. Union troops commanded by Gen. George Buell occupied Jefferson for the protection of the African Americans. [2]
RR Bridge over Big Cypress Bayou.
Reconstruction thru 1870s- Reconstruction politics unleashed anger, but county prominent citizens separated politics from financial needs. Military tribunal- known as Stockade Case. With protection the African American majority with the Union League took control of county government, electing Republicans such as: Donald Campbell, Colbert Caldwell, Charles Haughn, and A. G. Malloy. [4]
1870 census ranked Jefferson second in commerce and industry among all Texas cities. New modern novelties such as gas lighting, artificial ice, modern refrigeration, soda water were used by all. [4]
1872-Cotton exports from Jefferson's wharves increased to 76,238 bales. Material wealth and commercial optimism plummeted during the mid-1870s. [4]
1878- The monopoly of Jefferson of trade of the 20 N Texas eastern counties by the construction of 2 east-west rail routes during the 1870s, linking the Grand Prairie farmlands directly with E markets. At this point, the flight of capital and skilled labor from Marion County began in earnest. [4]
1880- County lost 138 businesses, and resembled the other rural counties around it. [4]
1882- an election of Democrat dominated commissioners' court. Despite violence and intimidation aimed at the black majority throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century, African Americans. [4]
1898- Disfranchise of African American voters when the White Primary went into effect.[2] [4]
1900 businesses were 26%. Farms grew rapidly Large plantations were broken up, abandoned, or sold, or turned over to share croppers.Crops, Cotton, corn were leading,some livestock, cattle, swine. [4]
'1914 Marion Co. brick courthouse was built. Outside the building the Dick Taylor Camp of Confederate veterans erected a monument to honor the county’s dead in the American Civil War.[2]
1910- Oil was discovered. Speculation, and production began again. [4]
1920- Marion County had 60 new businesses, and 11 manufacturing firms. [4]
1924 - Caddo Lake State Park began. [2]
1926 - Agricultural production grew9,638 bales of cotton and 57,000 bushels. [4]
Great Depression of the 1930s dealt a severe blow to the economy as it did to all counties. 70% of manufacturing and 32% businesses went out of business, leaving 828 workers on relief rolls.[4]
1933- Depression - caused businesses to fail. Auto owner ownership dropped 20%. This wiped out 70% of the county's manufacturing, 32% of all businesses and forcing 828 people out of jobs.[4]
1933-1937 Civilian Conservation Corps made improvements to the park. Its Army barracks and mess hall were converted to log cabins and a recreation hall. [2]
1945 row-crop agriculture was negligible; it produced no cotton and little truck-farm produce for the marketplace. [4]
1970 - Marion county had a rise of tourism, stimulated by the reconstructed and renovated Jefferson Historic Riverfront District and the recreation opportunities offered by Caddo Lake State Park and Lake o' the Pines. [4]
The Red River with its natural log-jams and snags resulted in the Red River Raft. This formed bayous and navigable lakes along the river valley. [4]

Government Offices

Marion County, Texas has had 2-3 courthouses.

1st courthouse, 1874

1874 courthouse

It took 6 years ro raise the money, and complete the building the first courthouse was completed in 1874 near a plantation away from the downtown section of Jefferson. Designed by architect Thomas Hinkle, it was a rectangular, two-story, brick, Greek Revival style building with a gabled roof, full entablature and a front façade containing a portico with four massive, unfluted Doric columns and a pediment that had a diamond shaped window. The front had three bays and the side had nine bays of windows. Defective lumber in the building’s roof caused a leak over the judge’s bench and when the contractors refused to fix it, the county refused to pay them for their work.!! The county abandoned this building in 1876. It was later used as a school for African American children until it burned in 1937

Temporary courthouse and county offices (Murphy Building) A building was rented for county business until the current courthouse was constructed between 1912 and 1913. The Murphy Building, originally built in the early 1850s as a warehouse, was remodeled in 1884 for county offices and courts and is still used today as a courthouse annex.

Murphy Bldg

2nd Courthouse, 1912-1913 The current brick courthouse was designed by architect Elmer George Withers in a Classical Revival style with receding porticoes on the front and rear sides and two, 2-story unfluted Doric columns framing the entrances. The building has a raised basement, an entablature and cornice surrounding the roof, balustrades over the front and rear entrances and a hipped roof covered with red tile. The courthouse is a virtual twin to the courthouse Withers designed for Roberts County.

1912 Current courthouse


Location- NE Texas, E boundary forms a portion of the Louisiana-Texas border.
CountySeat -Jefferson, (largest town and county seat), is 17 miles N of Marshall, Harrison County, and 46 miles W of Shreveport, Louisiana.
County center- 32°47' north latitude and 94°20' west longitude.
Size -380 square miles of dense timberlands of East Texas.
Land surface is a gently rolling, rich, sandy loam, underlain by a clay foundation and cloaked by forest :Vegetation -pine, cypress, and oak forests.
Elevation is 200 to 500 feet above sea level.
Rivers- Red River basin via the watershed areas of Caddo Lake, Lake o' the Pines, and Big Cypress, Little Cypress, and Black Cypress bayous
Mineral deposits include oil, natural gas, clay, and lignite coal.
Temperatures - 32° F to 54° F in January and from 71° to 93° F in July.
Growing season is 236 days in length
Rainfall is forty-four to forty-five inches.

Adjacent counties
Cass County (north)
adj counties.
Caddo Parish, Louisiana (east)
Harrison County (south)
Upshur County (west)
Morris County (northwest)
Protected areas
  • Caddo Lake State Park
  • Lake o' the Pines
  • Jefferson Historic Riverfront District


  • In 2014 68% of residents age 25 and older had 4 years of college, and almost 6% had college degrees.
  • In the early 1900s tourism, timber, and food processing plants were key elements of the area’s economy.
  • 2002 the county had 252 farms and ranches covering 59,602 acres, 38% were woodlands, 35% to pasture, and 29% to crops. In that year farmers and ranchers in the area earned $4,087,000, with livestock sales accounting for $3,343,000 of the total. Beef cattle, hay, and goats were the chief agricultural products.
  • 2003 - More than 11,652,000 cubic feet of pinewood and almost 1,805,000 cubic feet of hardwood were harvested in the county.
  • Motor vehicle registration reflected 182% increase between 1970 and 1980 for Marion County
Ancestry Groups Ancestry Groups Ancestry Groups
English - 49%German - 5%Scottish - 4%
African American - 24%Irish - 6%Dutch - 3%
Mexican - 2%Polish - 1%Scotch-Irish - 4%
French or French Canadian (except Basque) - 2%Italian - 2%

In 2000, there were 10,941 people residing in the county with a population density of 29 people/sq. mi. The racial makeup of the county was 72.74% White, 23.91% Black or African American, 0.80% Native American, 0.22% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.79% from other races, and 1.54% from two or more races. 2.40% of the population were Hispanic. The median income for a household in the county was $25,347, and the median income for a family was $32,039. Males had a median income of $30,584 versus $17,885 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,535. About 17.80% of families and 22.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.90% of those under age 18 and 14.40% of those age 65 or over.[5]

Jefferson post office
  • 2004 181,000 barrels of oil and 4,735,632 cubic feet of gas-well gas were produced..
  • By Dec 2004, 55,597,674 barrels of oil had been removed from county lands since 1910.


  • US 59.svg U.S. Highway 59
  • I-369-future route is planned to follow the current route of U.S. 59 in most places.
  • Texas State Highway 43
  • Texas State Highway 49
  • Texas State Highway 155
  • Texas Farm to Market Road 134
  • Texas Farm to Market Road 248
  • Texas Farm to Market Road 2208
  • Texas Farm to Market Road 726
  • Texas Farm to Market Road 729
  • Texas Farm to Market Road 727
  • Texas Market Road 805
  • Texas Farm to Market Road 2683

After the Civil War, Republicans were in county political offices through the 1870s. The restoration of white conservative rule, commonly called "redemption," occurred 1882 with the election of a Democrat-dominated commissioners' court. Even with violence and intimidation toward the African Americans throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century, the people continued to deliver Marion County's majority for the Republican presidential ticket until the white primary effectively disfranchised them in 1898. From this point on, county voters returned a majority for Democratic presidential candidates in every election through 1996 except in 1956 when Republican Dwight Eisenhower carried the area, and 1984, when Ronald Reagan did. Republican George W. Bush carried the county with comfortable majorities in 2000 and 2004.[6]

  • Between 1940-1970 there was little economic growth. By 1970 there were 26 manufacturing establishments which employed less than 10 people
  • The increase in prosperity throughout the 1970s can be attributed to an increase of tourism, stimulated by the reconstructed and renovated Jefferson Historic Riverfront District and the recreation opportunities offered by Caddo Lake State Park and Lake o' the Pines. Increased tourism also increased services , hotels, sale of gasoline, food establishments, in the service and retail sectors. By 1983, 67% of all employment was in this retail and service sector, up 12% over the 1964. [7]
Town Unin Community

( unincorporated communities)

    • Berea ( unincorporated communities)
    • Crestwood ( unincorporated communities)
    • Gray ( unincorporated communities)
    • Jackson ( unincorporated communities)
    • Lodi ( unincorporated communities)
    • Potters Point ( unincorporated communities)
    • Smithland ( unincorporated communities)
    • Warlo ( unincorporated communities)
      • Corinth - Ghost town

Formed From

  • 1860--Marion County was created 8 February 1860 from Cass and Harrison Counties.

County Resources

  • Jefferson Historic Riverfront District
  • The Grove ( Stilley-Young House) a haunted house.
  • Caddo Lake State Park
  • Museum
  • Babe Didrikson Zaharias Museum golfer
  • Recreation opportunities offered by Caddo Lake State Park
  • Recreation opportunities offered by Lake o' the Pines.
1860 --- 3,977 —
1870 --- 8,562 115.3%
1880 --- 10,983 28.3%
1890 --- 10,862 −1.1%
1900 --- 10,754 −1.0%
1910 --- 10,472 −2.6%
1920 --- 10,886 4.0%
1930 --- 10,371 −4.7%
1940 --- 11,457 10.5%
1950 --- 10,172 −11.2%
1960 --- 8,049 −20.9%
1970 --- 8,517 5.8%
1980 --- 10,360 21.6%
1990 --- 9,984 −3.6%
2000 --- 10,941 9.6%
2010 --- 10,546 −3.6%
Est. 2015 --- 10,160


Barney Cannon (1955–2009), country music deejay
Vernon Dalhart, popular singer, songwriter
W. K. Henderson (1880-1945), founder of KWKH in Shreveport
Diamond Bessie (1854 - January 21, 1877), 19th Century murder victim
Robert Potter, Secretary of the Navy during the Texas Revolution



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