Anderson County, Texas

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Anderson County, Texas
Anderson courthouse tx 2010.jpg
The Anderson County Courthouse in Palestine
Map of Texas highlighting Anderson County
Location in the U.S. state of Texas
Map of the United States highlighting Texas
Texas's location in the U.S.
Founded 1846
Named for Kenneth L. Anderson
Seat Palestine
Largest city Palestine
 • Total 1,078 sq mi (2,792 km2)
 • Land 1,063 sq mi (2,753 km2)
 • Water 15 sq mi (39 km2), 1.4%
Population (est.)
 • (2016) 57,734[1]
 • Density 55/sq mi (21/km2)
Congressional district 5th
Time zone Central: UTC−6/−5

Anderson County is a county in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, the population was 58,458.[2] Its county seat is Palestine.[3] Anderson county was organized in 1846 and is named in honor of Kenneth L. Anderson, who had been Vice President of the Republic of Texas.

Anderson County comprises the Palestine, TX Micropolitan Statistical Area.

The county is wholly located within Area Code 430 / 903.[4][5]


Native Americans[edit]

Indians friendly to the settlers resided in east Texas[6] before the Kiowa, Kickapoo, Kichai, Apache and Comanche intruded upon their territory.[7] These tribes hunted, farmed the land, and were adept traders. By 1772 they had settled on the Brazos at Waco and on the Trinity upstream from the site of present Palestine. The Tawakoni[8] branch of Wichita Indians originated north of Texas, but migrated south into east Texas. From 1843 onward, the Tawakoni were part of treaties made by both the Republic of Texas and the United States.

On May 19, 1836 an alliance of Comanche, Kiowa, Caddo and Wichita attacked Fort Parker, killing or kidnapping all but about 18 settlers who managed to escape to Fort Houston, which had been erected in Anderson County in 1835 as protection against Indians.[9][10] Among the captured was Cynthia Ann Parker, who later became the mother of Quanah Parker, a Comanche chief.[11] Some residents of Anderson County are related to Cynthia Ann Parker.

In October 1838, Gen. Thomas Jefferson Rusk conducted a raid against hostile Indians at Kickapoo, near Frankston,[12] ending the engagements with the Indians in eastern Texas for that year.


In 1826, empresario David G. Burnet received a grant from the Coahuila y Tejas legislature to settle 300 families in what is now Anderson County.[13] Most of the settlers in the county came from the southern states and from Missouri.

Baptist spiritual leader Daniel Parker[14][15] and eight other men organized the Pilgrim Predestinarian Regular Baptist Church in Lamotte, Illinois. The fellowship in its entirety migrated in 1833 to the new frontier of Texas. Among this group of settlers were Silas M. Parker, Moses Herrin, Elisha Anglin, Luther T. M. Plummer, David Faulkenberry,[16] Joshua Hadley, and Samuel Frost. Fort Parker was the earliest actual settlement in the vicinity. After the fort was attacked, some of the survivors moved to Anderson County.

County established[edit]

The First Legislature of the state of Texas formed Anderson County from Houston County on March 24, 1846. The county was named after Kenneth Lewis Anderson. Palestine[17] was named county seat.

Anderson County voted in favor of secession from the Union.[18] When the Civil War broke out, former Palestine district judge Judge John H. Reagan[19] served in the cabinet of the Confederate government as postmaster general, being captured at the end of the war and spending twenty-two months in solitary confinement. During Reconstruction, District Nine Court Judge Reuben A. Reeves,[20] a resident of Palestine, was removed from office as "an obstruction to Reconstruction" in part because of his refusal to allow blacks to participate as jurors in the judicial process.

In 1875, the International – Great Northern Railroad[21] placed its machine and repair shops and general offices in Palestine, causing the community to double in size over the next five years. For a time it was a rough railroad town, dominated by male workers.

There was white violence against blacks in the county. In July 1910, at least 22 blacks were killed in white rioting in and near Slocum, a majority-black community, in what is called the Slocum Massacre. There may have been 8 that number of victims, as bodies were found in the swamps and canebrake, and there were stories of whites burying blacks to cover up the evidence of their riot before police investigated. Racial and economic tensions were high and southern states had disenfranchised blacks and imposed Jim Crow in furtherance of white supremacy.[22] Anderson County tied for 13th place in a list of the 25 American counties with the highest number of lynchings between 1877-1950 (all were located in the South).[23]

Oral tradition in the African-American community says that as many as 200 blacks may have been killed in the massacre. An estimated 200 whites rioted and attacked blacks on the roads, in the fields, and in Slocum on July 29-30, 1910. Many black homes were burned, and black families fled for their lives, having to abandon their property and assets. This town is about 20 miles east of the county seat at Palestine.[24]

At the time, as was usual, events were described as a "race riot" by blacks; Texas newspapers mistakenly had contributed to problems by reporting rumors that 200 blacks were arming. Afterward eleven men were arrested and seven were indicted, including James Spurger, said by many to be the instigator, but no prosecution resulted. The massacre had been preceded by racial tensions, rumors, and, for six months, at least one lynching per month of blacks in East Texas.[24] In January 2016, the state installed a highway historical marker in Slocum to recognize this unprovoked attack on the black community.[25]

In January 1928 the first successful oil producer in Anderson County, known as the Humble-Lizzie Smith No. 1, was brought in.[26] From 1929 to the year 2000, 295,904,540 barrels (47,045,062 m3) of oil was produced from county lands.

The Fairway Oil Field was discovered in 1960, and straddles the border of Anderson and Henderson counties. Oil is produced from the Lower Cretaceous James Limestone Member of the Pearsall Formation.[27]

The Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area[28] was purchased by the state between 1950 and 1960, much of it land formerly owned by Milze L. Derden. The area was renamed in 1952 after Gus A. Engeling. The first state biologist assigned to the area, he was shot and killed by a poacher on December 13, 1951.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,078 square miles (2,790 km2), of which 1,063 square miles (2,750 km2) is land and 15 square miles (39 km2) (1.4%) is water.[29]

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected area[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201657,734[30]−1.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[31]
1850–2010[32] 2010-2014[2]

As of the census[33] of 2000, there were 55,109 people, 15,678 households, and 11,335 families residing in the county. The population density was 52 people per square mile (20/km²). There were 18,436 housing units at an average density of 17 per square mile (7/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 66.44% White, 23.48% Black or African American, 0.64% Native American, 0.45% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 8.00% from other races, and 0.96% from two or more races. 12.17% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 15,678 households out of which 34.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.50% were married couples living together, 13.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.70% were non-families. 24.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.07.

In the county, the population was spread out with 20.70% under the age of 18, 9.30% from 18 to 24, 37.70% from 25 to 44, 20.60% from 45 to 64, and 11.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 155.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 173.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $31,957, and the median income for a family was $37,513. Males had a median income of $27,070 versus $21,577 for females. The per capita income for the county was $13,838. About 12.70% of families and 16.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.60% of those under age 18 and 16.60% of those age 65 or over.

Government, courts, and politics[edit]


Anderson County is governed by a Commissioners Court. It consists of the county judge who is elected at-large and presides over the full court, and four commissioners who are elected from each of the county's four single-member precincts.[34][35]

County Commissioners[34][35][edit]

Office Name Party
  County Judge Robert D. Johnston Republican
  County Commissioner, Precinct 1 Greg Chapin Republican
  County Commissioner, Precinct 2 Rashad Mims Democratic
  County Commissioner, Precinct 3 Kenneth Dickson Republican
  County Commissioner, Precinct 4 Joey Hill Republican

County Officials[34][35][edit]

Office Name Party
  County Clerk Mark Staples Republican
  Criminal District Attorney Allyson Mitchell Republican
  District Clerk Janice Staples Republican
  Sheriff Greg Taylor Republican
  Tax Assessor-Collector Teri Garvey Hanks Republican
  Treasurer Tara Holliday Republican


Office Name Party
  Constable, Precinct 1 Vacant
  Constable, Precinct 2 Doug Lightfoot Republican
  Constable, Precinct 3 Kim Dickson Republican
  Constable, Precinct 4 James Muniz Republican

State Prisons[edit]

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) operates state prisons for men in the county. The prisons Beto, Coffield, Michael, and Powledge units and the Gurney Unit transfer facility are co-located in an unincorporated area 7 miles (11 km) west of Palestine.[36] The Beto Unit has the Correctional Institutions Division Region II maintenance headquarters.[37]


Justices of the Peace[34][35][edit]

Office Name Party
  Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1 Gary Thomas Republican
  Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2 Carl Davis Democratic
  Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3 James Todd Democratic
  Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4 James Sharp Republican

County Court at Law[34][35][edit]

Office Name Party
  County Court at Law Jeff Doran Republican

District Courts[34][35][edit]

Office Name Party
  3rd District Court Mark Calhoon Republican
  87th District Court Deborah Oakes Evans Republican
  349th District Court Pam Foster Fletcher Republican
  369th District Court Michael Davis Republican


Anderson is a strongly Republican county, voting Republican in every election since 1980. The county last voted Democratic in 1976, when Jimmy Carter won 57% of the vote in the county. Hillary Clinton managed to win just 19.8% of the vote in the county, the least of any presidential candidate since at least 1960.

Presidential elections results
Presidential elections results[38]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2016 77.8% 13,201 19.8% 3,369 2.4% 407
2012 75.6% 12,262 23.5% 3,813 0.9% 137
2008 71.4% 11,884 27.8% 4,630 0.9% 141
2004 70.7% 11,525 28.7% 4,678 0.6% 98
2000 65.2% 9,835 33.4% 5,041 1.4% 204
1996 48.2% 6,458 42.5% 5,693 9.3% 1,249
1992 38.7% 5,598 36.8% 5,322 24.5% 3,546
1988 56.0% 7,858 43.6% 6,128 0.4% 59
1984 64.3% 8,634 35.4% 4,747 0.3% 42
1980 52.7% 5,970 45.6% 5,163 1.7% 197
1976 42.9% 4,172 56.6% 5,499 0.5% 44
1972 72.2% 5,826 27.7% 2,233 0.1% 6
1968 29.9% 2,828 36.4% 3,447 33.8% 3,196
1964 41.1% 3,362 58.8% 4,809 0.1% 10
1960 52.2% 3,642 47.2% 3,296 0.6% 44
1956 60.5% 4,181 39.2% 2,710 0.3% 23
1952 57.2% 4,637 42.7% 3,462 0.1% 10
1948 23.1% 1,199 62.4% 3,242 14.6% 757
1944 8.5% 467 79.3% 4,342 12.2% 665
1940 11.5% 688 88.4% 5,281 0.1% 7
1936 7.2% 289 92.8% 3,749 0.1% 2
1932 5.6% 259 94.1% 4,354 0.3% 14
1928 50.9% 1,814 49.1% 1,747
1924 47.2% 562 31.4% 374 21.4% 255
1920 8.2% 323 60.0% 2,355 31.8% 1,248
1916 18.7% 501 74.1% 1,984 7.2% 192
1912 19.4% 444 75.8% 1,737 4.8% 110


The following school districts serve areas in Anderson County:


Anderson County is part of the Dallas/Fort Worth DMA. Local TV media outlets include: KDFW-TV, KXAS-TV, WFAA-TV, KTVT-TV, KERA-TV, KTXA-TV, KDFI-TV, KDAF-TV, and KFWD-TV. Other nearby TV stations that provide coverage for Anderson County come from the Tyler/Longview/Jacksonville market and they include: KLTV, KTRE-TV, KYTX-TV, KFXK-TV, KCEB-TV, and KETK-TV.

Newspapers serving Anderson County include the Palestine Herald-Press in Palestine and the once-weekly Frankston Citizen in Frankston.




Unincorporated areas[edit]

Ghost Town[edit]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • E.R. Bills wrote The 1910 Slocum Massacre: An Act of Genocide in East Texas (2014) about white mobs rioting and killing at least 22 blacks in Anderson County in July 1910, and driving off hundreds more.[24]


  1. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. August 15, 2017. Retrieved August 15, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ Texas Area Codes - Cities & Prefixes - Area Code 430, Public Utility Commission of Texas website, retrieved July 30, 2015.
  5. ^ Texas Area Codes - Cities & Prefixes - Area Code 903, Public Utility Commission of Texas website, retrieved July 30, 2015.
  6. ^ Moore, R Edward. "East Texas Indian Lands". Texas Indians. Archived from the original on 17 April 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2010.  R E. Moore and Texarch Associates
  7. ^ "The Passing of the Indian Era". Texas Beyond History. Retrieved 2 May 2010.  Texas Beyond History
  8. ^ Krieger, Margery H: Tawakoni Indians from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 02 May 2010. Texas State Historical Association
  9. ^ "Fort Houston, Texas". Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved 2 May 2010.  Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC.
  10. ^ Watts, Mrs. Harmon: Fort Houston from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 02 May 2010. Texas State Historical Association
  11. ^ Hacker, Margaret Schmidt: Parker, Cynthia Ann from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 02 May 2010. Texas State Historical Association
  12. ^ "Frankston, Texas". Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved 2 May 2010.  Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC.
  13. ^ "Empresario Contracts in the Colonization of Texas 1825-1834". Texas A & M UNiversity. Archived from the original on 15 June 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2010.  Wallace L. McKeehan,
  14. ^ "Parker, Elder Daniel". Find A Grave. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  15. ^ Bob Bowman. "The Parker Family". Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved 2 May 2010.  Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC.
  16. ^ "Faulkenberry, David". Find A Grave. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  17. ^ "Palestine, Texas". Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved 2 May 2010.  Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC.
  18. ^ Bradberry Jr, Forrest E. "Anderson County in the Civil War". Palestine Herald Press. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  19. ^ Procter, Ben H: Reagan, John Henninger from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 02 May 2010. Texas State Historical Association
  20. ^ Caraway, Georgia Kemp: Reeves, Reuben A from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 02 May 2010. Texas State Historical Association
  21. ^ Werner, George C: International-Great Northern Railroad from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 02 May 2010. Texas State Historical Association
  22. ^ Lynching in America, Third Edition: Supplement by County, p. 9, Equal Justice Initiative, Mobile, AL, 2017
  23. ^ Josh Marshall, "The History of Lynching and Racial Terror", Talking Points Memo, 10 February 2015; accessed 15 May 2018
  24. ^ a b c David Martin Davies, "Should Texas Remember Or Forget The Slocum Massacre?", Texas Public Radio, 16 January 2015; accessed 15 May 2018
  25. ^ Tim Madigan (January 16, 2016). "Texas marks racial slaughter more than a century later". Washington Post. Retrieved January 17, 2016. 
  26. ^ Caraway, Georgia Kemp: Anderson County from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 02 May 2010. Texas State Historical Association
  27. ^ Terriere, Robert (1976). Braunstein, Jules, ed. Geology of Fairway Field, East Texas, in North American Oil and Gas Fields. Tulsa: The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. pp. 157–176. ISBN 0891813004. 
  28. ^ "Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area". Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Archived from the original on 3 April 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  29. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved April 18, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  31. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015. 
  32. ^ "Texas Almanac: Population History of Counties from 1850–2010" (PDF). Texas Almanac. Retrieved April 18, 2015. 
  33. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  34. ^ a b c d e f g "". Retrieved 2018-01-23. 
  35. ^ a b c d e f g "Counties: Anderson - Texas State Directory Online". Retrieved 2018-01-23. 
  36. ^ "Powledge Unit Archived July 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on May 13, 2010.
  37. ^ "Beto Unit Archived July 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on June 5, 2010.
  38. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved 2018-07-19. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 31°49′N 95°39′W / 31.81°N 95.65°W / 31.81; -95.65