Jefferson, Texas

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Jefferson, Texas
The Old Post Office, Jefferson's most recognized landmark
The Old Post Office, Jefferson's most recognized landmark Downtown Jefferson, Texas
Coordinates: 32°45′40″N 94°20′58″W / 32.76111°N 94.34944°W / 32.76111; -94.34944Coordinates: 32°45′40″N 94°20′58″W / 32.76111°N 94.34944°W / 32.76111; -94.34944
CountryUnited States
Named forThomas Jefferson
 • Total4.48 sq mi (11.59 km2)
 • Land4.45 sq mi (11.52 km2)
 • Water0.03 sq mi (0.07 km2)
194 ft (59 m)
 • Total2,106
 • Estimate 
 • Density430.53/sq mi (166.23/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)903
FIPS code48-37528[3]
GNIS feature ID1338692[4]
WebsiteCity of Jefferson

Jefferson is a city in Marion County in Northeastern Texas, United States.[5][6][7] The population was 2,106 at the 2010 census, and 2,533 as of 2018's census estimates.[8] It is the county seat of Marion County, Texas,[9] and is situated in East Texas.

The city is a tourist destination, with popular attractions including: Jay Gould's Railroad car, the Sterne Fountain, Jefferson Carnegie Library, Excelsior House, the House of the Four Seasons, and the bayous formed by Big Cypress Bayou located in and around the city.


Almost every commercial building and house on the main arterial road in Jefferson has a historic marker.[10]

Early records indicate that Jefferson was founded around 1841 on land ceded from the Caddo Indians. At that time, a log jam more than 100 miles long existed on the Red River north of present Natchitoches, Louisiana. The Indians said that this log jam, known as the Great Red River Raft, had always existed.

The Red River Raft (or Great Raft) acted as a dam on the river and raised the level of Caddo Lake and the Red River several feet. This rise of Caddo Lake and the corresponding rise in the Big Cypress Bayou at Jefferson permitted commercial riverboat travel to Jefferson from ports such as St. Louis and New Orleans via the Mississippi and Red Rivers.

Panoramic map of Jefferson in 1872 by Herman Brosius including a list oflandmarks

Jefferson was one of the most important ports in Texas between 1845 and 1872. The town reached its peak population just a few years after the Civil War and is reported to have exceeded 30,000. During this time, Jefferson was the sixth-largest town in Texas.

There were attempts over the years to remove the raft and permit the normal flow of the Red River, but these attempts were unsuccessful until the discovery of nitroglycerin. In 1873, using nitroglycerin, the Army Corps of Engineers was finally able to clear the raft from the Red River. This lowered the level of Caddo Lake and Big Cypress to the extent that riverboat traffic to Jefferson was no longer commercially feasible. At the peak of river traffic, Jefferson had a population of over 7,000. A few years later, it had dropped to a little over 3,000.

The Sterne Fountain was given to the city in 1913 to honor the contribution of Jacob and Ernestine Sterne, a Jewish couple who settled in Jefferson before the Civil War and became prominent citizens who managed the post office and were involved in numerous civic and cultural projects. The fountain includes a statue of Hebe, the Greek goddess of Youth, by Giuseppe Moretti.[11]

One of the legends related to Jefferson referred to Jay Gould, the railroad magnate. The legend goes that Gould wanted to bring his railroad through Jefferson but the town leaders refused because they had the river traffic. Gould said that "grass would grow in the streets" without the railroad. Gould credited with supporting the removal of the Red River Raft and the subsequent decline of Jefferson as a river port. Much of this tale is fiction. Townspeople obtained Gould's railcar and it is displayed as a tourist attraction in downtown Jefferson.[12]

Since 2000, Jefferson has been the location for the Pulpwood Queens Book Club Girlfriend Weekend's annual conference, attracting authors from all around the country.[13] Home of the famous TJ Blackburn Syrup Works since 1927.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.4 square miles (11 km2), of which, 4.3 square miles (11 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (1.58%) is water.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Jefferson has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[14]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)1,915[2]−9.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[15]

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 2,199 people, 871 households, and 544 families residing in the city. The population density was 465.7 people per square mile (179.6/km2). There were 1,042 housing units at an average density of 239.7 per square mile (92.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 62.80% White, 34.68% African American, 0.40% Native American, 0.84% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.54% from other races, and 0.69% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.63% of the population.

There were 871 households, out of which 23.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.7% were married couples living together, 17.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.5% were non-families. 34.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 21.8% under the age of 18, 6.8% from 18 to 24, 21.8% from 25 to 44, 24.9% from 45 to 64, and 24.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females, there were 80.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 76.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $17,034, and the median income for a family was $26,250. Males had a median income of $28,929 versus $14,583 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,558. About 29.4% of families and 32.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 54.1% of those under age 18 and 22.7% of those age 65 or over.

In 2018 there were an estimated 2,533 inhabitants and 1,135 housing units within the city.[8] The city's racial makeup in 2018 was 50.2% non-Hispanic white and 41.5% Black or African American. 2.4% were of two or more races, and 5.9% from some other race. 7.3% were from Hispanic or Latino heritage from any race.


The City of Jefferson is served by the Jefferson Independent School District.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. ^ Morphis, J. M. (1874). History of Texas From Its Discovery and Settlement. New York: United States Publishing Company. pp. 504–507. Retrieved 2009-07-27. Includes a c. 1874 description as well as information on the Potter/Rose feud.
  6. ^ Spaight, A. W. (1882). The Resources, Soil, and Climate of Texas: Report of The Commissioner of Insurance, Statistics, and History. Galveston, Texas: A. H. Belo & Company. pp. 202–204. Retrieved 2009-07-27. Includes a c. 1882 description of Jefferson and environs.
  7. ^ King, Edward (1875). The Great South. Hartford, Conn: American Publishing Company. p. 124. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
  8. ^ a b "2018 ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  9. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  10. ^ Shey, Brittanie. "Oprah of the Piney Woods." Houston Press. Wednesday, October 12, 2011. 2. Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
  11. ^ Texas State Historical Commission. "Sterne Fountain Historical Marker".
  12. ^ Jefferson, Riverport to the Southwest, by Fred Tarpley, 1983.
  13. ^ Texas Observer, "Fake Fur, Big Hair and La Vie Littéraire," February 16, 2010
  14. ^ Climate Summary for Jefferson, Texas
  15. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bagur, Jacques D. Antebellum Jefferson, Texas: Everyday Life in an East Texas Town (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2012). 612 pp.
  • Dean, Winnie Mims (1953). Jefferson, Texas: Queen of the Cypress. Dallas, Texas: Mathis, Van Nort and Co. OCLC 2673597.

External links[edit]