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Navasota City Hall
|Nickname(s): The Blues Capital of Texas|
Location of Navasota, Texas
|• Total||7.39 sq mi (19.14 km2)|
|• Land||7.36 sq mi (19.05 km2)|
|• Water||0.03 sq mi (0.09 km2)|
|Elevation||217 ft (66 m)|
|• Density||959/sq mi (370.1/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|ZIP code||77868, 77869|
|GNIS feature ID||1375099|
Navasota is a city in Grimes County, Texas, United States. The population was 7,049 at the 2010 census, rising to an estimated 7,476 in 2015. In 2005, the Texas Legislature named the city "The Blues Capital of Texas", in honor of the late Mance Lipscomb, a Navasota native and blues musician.
Navasota is located in southwestern Grimes County, east of the Navasota River, a tributary of the Brazos River. Texas State Highway 6 passes through the eastern side of the city as a four-lane bypass, leading northwest 22 miles (35 km) to College Station and south 21 miles (34 km) to Hempstead. Texas State Highway 105 passes through the center of Navasota, leading southwest 25 miles (40 km) to Brenham and east 41 miles (66 km) to Conroe. Houston is 71 miles (114 km) southeast of Navasota.
Navasota was founded in 1831 as a stagecoach stop named "Nolansville". Its name was changed in 1858 to Navasota, a name perhaps derived from the Native American word nabatoto ("muddy water").
After September 1859, when the Houston and Texas Central Railway built into the town, Navasota became important as a shipping and marketing center for the surrounding area. When nearby Washington-on-the-Brazos protested the coming of the rails, the old historic town forfeited its geographic advantage, and it began to decline as many of its businesses and residences began a sure migration to the new railhead 7 miles (11 km) to the northeast across the Brazos River at Navasota.
Slaves were a large part of the local economy, as they were imported, traded and used to work in the many local cotton plantations. Guns were made in nearby Anderson, and cotton, gunpowder, and shoes were made, processed and stored there for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. By 1865 the population was about 2,700. All during the Civil War, all the marketable goods produced in the region were brought to Navasota, then the furthest inland railhead in Texas, to be shipped south to Galveston, where it could be transported by steamboat from the Texas coast and up the Mississippi River to the war effort, or exported to Mexico or overseas to Europe.
Navasota suffered a series of disasters in the mid-1860s that severely depleted its population. In 1865 a warehouse filled with cotton and gunpowder exploded after it was torched by vagrant Confederate veterans; the blast killed a number of people and started a fire that destroyed much of the original downtown, and damaged many buildings, including the post office. Not long afterward the town was struck by a deadly cholera epidemic, which was followed in 1867 by an even more dangerous epidemic of yellow fever. As many Navasota citizens, including the mayor, fled to escape the disease, the town population dropped by about 50 percent.
During these days, Navasota was considered a wild and wooly place, where it was not considered safe for women and children to go downtown in broad daylight. The downtown buildings were teaming with lawless ruffians, gamblers, prostitutes and drunks. Lawmen had to hide and watch, and often were afraid of the streets at night. There were many saloons and gaming halls, and every Sunday morning the undertaker hitched up the buggy and went downtown to collect the bodies that were anticipated to be there, from another wild Saturday night.
Perhaps the greatest and most publicized violence was around the turn of the century, during the decline of the Populist Party in Grimes County, and the re-election efforts of Populist candidate Garrett Scott for County Sheriff. A man who spent his entire life in Grimes County, Scott had great charm and political skill. He worked extremely well with the black population, which in 1900 still maintained a large majority, as very few former slaves had relocated until violent attacks by White Man's Union-organized mobs from Grimes and surrounding counties began to occur. Despite resentment in much of the white population, Scott was reelected several times, serving as sheriff for the better part of two decades. During this time a number of black candidates also succeeded in their election efforts. An all-white mob flooded into Anderson on November 7, 1900, where they killed Emmett Lee Scott, John I. Bradley, and many unnamed black citizens of the county. From the courthouse cupola Sheriff Scott was shot as he crossed the street in front of the jail. His niece, Nealy Tuck, came out of the jail and threw herself over him to protect him from the rage of bullets that rained down from unseen assailants in the courthouse. The only WMU participant to die was the son of Judge McDonald, William McDonald. The assassination attempt failed initially as Scott was dragged to the jail and survived. There Scott and a large portion of his extended family were pinned down for many days by constant gunfire. Scott's aunt Elizabeth Rowan Scott Neblett implored the governor to intervene. So did Scott's father, John Newton Scott, and his two surviving brothers, postmaster James D. Scott, and Navasota lawman John H. Scott, who sent urgent telegrams to the governor explaining how many men and women were "pinned down" in the Anderson Jail with no hope of exiting alive without State Militia assistance. Scott was badly wounded and would later succumb to the complications that developed while the WMU held the Scott families in the jail. At least the WMU stopped short of assassinating the Scott women who spread their bodies over their wounded husbands and sons in the militia wagons which carried them to Navasota and by train to Houston. Scott survived long enough to willfully divest his land in the county and to bring a successful lawsuit against every merchant in the county (this was the only way to oppose the secret membership of the WMU as after Nov 7, 1900, to do business in the county belonging to the WMU was required). No murder or assault charges were filed because it was later understood that McDonald shot Emmett Scott point blank in the face as Scott entered Bradley's establishment. Bradley (Emmett Lee Scott's best friend) then shot McDonald and was shot in return fire. The only non WMU witness to this was a severely traumatized teenage Scott girl. All of the other assailants and assassins hid in the courthouse and other buildings, not showing their identities. Following this battle an exodus of blacks from Grimes County to north Texas and beyond into Oklahoma was so profound that the following season it became almost impossible to harvest crops. The county sponsored newspaper ads in the Dallas area beseeching former black residents to return to their "Homes" in Grimes County.
In 1908, Navasota was a lawless boom town, wracked by violence: "shootouts on the main street were so frequent that in two years at least a hundred men died." 24-year-old Frank Hamer resigned from the Texas Rangers to become the City Marshal and moved in and created law and order. Hamer faced down, chased down, and beat down the Navasota toughs until the streets were quiet, and children could once again go downtown. He relentlessly fought the various power factions, and one day fought one perceived local warlord in the mud on Main Street, throwing him in jail and defying all comers, as the rest of the troublemakers began to search for cover. He served as marshal until 1911. Hamer became more widely known in 1934 as one of the men who shot Bonnie and Clyde. In 2012, the Navasota city council voted to commission a local sculptor to erect a statue of Frank Hamer in front of the new city hall building.
As of 2015, the population was estimated at 7,476. The industrial sector of the community now boasts 23 companies and over 1,200 jobs. In 2009, Navasota was selected as a "Visionaries in Preservation" city by the Texas Historical Commission to protect the numerous historic structures in the city. A new municipal building was completed in 2011, and continued downtown improvements are under construction, with completion scheduled in 2013.
In 2012, Navasota Municipal Airport completed an expansion of its runway to 5,000 feet (1,500 m) long by 75 feet (23 m) wide, now allowing jets on the runway. Area residents became fearful of more violence and drugs being flown in. This fear was based on the infamous Navasota area/Mexico drug flights and federal law enforcement arrests of the 1980s.
The city of Navasota earned a 2011 Gold Leadership Award from the Texas Comptroller's Office for efforts in transparency. Its application scored 17 of 20 points. Navasota was one of 70 (out of over a thousand) cities in Texas to receive the Gold status. It also received the award in 2013.
Navasota is served by the weekly Navasota Star newspaper, which covers the city of Navasota and its surrounding communities, and by the Navasota Examiner newspaper, which has been reporting on the goings-on in Grimes County since 1894. The city is also home to the Navasota News 1550 AM, owned and managed by Bryan Broadcasting, which broadcasts the local Navasota Rattlers football games.
In 2013, the British documentary project known as Vague Direction visited Navasota and featured local residents Misslette The Singing Cowgirl and Steve Stribling, a local hog trapper.
Navasota has some shops and artisans in its historic downtown district, typified by antique, gift, and junk stores housed in old classic stone and brick structures, and live plays at the Sunny Furman Theatre. Navasota Blues Alley is in the heart of the downtown district, and offers blues memorabilia, museum exhibits, art, vintage music and radios, and much more. The city also has golfing facilities and parks, as well as wineries.
Navasota retains a number of historic Victorian homes on Washington Avenue, the main residential and commercial thoroughfare through town. Another historic edifice is Brule Field, a natural amphitheater built out of native stone by the Great Depression-era Works Progress Administration. It served as the primary grid for the local high school football team, the Navasota Rattlers, until the new stadium was constructed in 2006. Several native-stone churches also remain near downtown, with distinctive Victorian fronts.
The city is also home to two statues of French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, including a bronze monument, dedicated in 1936 by the DAR, to celebrate the travels of the famous French explorer. The second is a stone bust that was previously in downtown, and was rededicated by the French consulate in May 2012 at August Horst Park. The bust was donated to the city by the French government in 1978. Supposedly, La Salle was murdered by one of his men near present-day Navasota, while looking for the Mississippi Valley and the way back to French-held lands near the Great Lakes. After numerous voyages, explorations of the Mississippi valley, trading ventures and several mutinies, La Salle's bones are believed to have found their resting place in the Navasota Valley.
Seasonally, Navasota is visited in the spring for bluebonnets. The Blues Bluebonnets & BBQ music festival is held in April, celebrating the birthday of Mance Lipscomb. A summer festival, the Navasota Bluesfest, every second weekend in August in the Blues Capital of Texas, honors the memory of blues man Mance Lipscomb, who recorded numerous albums and lived in Navasota all of his life. The celebration raises money for college scholarships for local students. A statue of Mance Lipscomb is now a part of Mance Lipscomb Park, near downtown. A statue of Frank Hamer stands in front of city hall, honoring the time he served as city marshal, connecting to the time Mance Lipscomb was his buggy driver. Local artist and sculptor Russell Cushman designed and built the bronze statue.
As of the census of 2010, 7,049 people, 2,206 households, and 1,726 families resided in the city. The population density was 1,109.7 people per square mile (428.3/km²). The 2,805 housing units averaged 435.0 per square mile (167.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 52.4% White, 38.4% Hispanic or Latino, 30.6% African American, 0.5% Native American, 0.4% Asian, and 2.1% from two or more races.
Of the 2,206 households, 37% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.5% were married couples living together, 20.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29% were not families. About 25.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.39.
In the city, the population was distributed as 30.7% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 18.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32.9 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $38,000, and for a family was $31,875. Males had a median income of $28,585 versus $21,731 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,564. About 23.8% of families and 23.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.7% of those under age 18 and 24.0% of those age 65 or over.
Government and infrastructure
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) operates the O.L. Luther Unit and the Wallace Pack Unit in an unincorporated area in Grimes County near Navasota. In addition, the Pack Warehouse is located in an unincorporated area near the Pack Unit.
Three of the six schools in the NISD system have received an "improvement required" status on the TEA accountability ratings released to the public on Aug. 15, resulting in an overall "improvement required" rating for the district. This is the lowest worst rating the state of Texas can give a schools system. http://www.navasotaexaminer.com/news/article_f55820fe-63f6-11e6-b89b-47bd953442f0.html
The Navasota Rattlers were 3A Div. II State Football Champions in 2012 and 4A Div. I State Football Champions in 2014.
- Alvin Ailey, dancer and choreographer
- Kathleen Blackshear, artist
- Clay Condrey, Major League baseball pitcher
- Virgil "Ned" Garvin, Major League baseball pitcher
- Frank Hamer, Navasota city marshal and Texas Ranger
- Christine M. Jones, a former Maryland legislator
- René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, French explorer who was killed near present-day Navasota in 1687
- Milt Larkin, musician
- Mance Lipscomb, blues singer
- R. Bowen Loftin, a Texas A&M University president who was a graduate of Navasota High School
- Christopher B. "Stubb" Stubblefield, restaurateur
- Joe Tex, soul musician
- USS Navasota, named after the Navasota River
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Navasota, Texas.|
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- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Navasota city, Texas". American Factfinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
- "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
- "Navasota's credentials check out". The Eagle. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- Navasota, TX from the Handbook of Texas Online
- Rosemary Smith (February 2, 2011). "Jimmy Brown writes book about drug history in Grimes County". The Navasota Examiner. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
- "Navasota, Texas Awarded Membership in Union Pacific's Train Town USA Registry". www.uprr.com. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- "Navasota". www.retireintexas.org. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- "Day 68 – 73: Cleveland to Austin, TX - Vague Direction". Vague Direction. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
- "Navasota memorabilia for municipal building". The Navasota Examiner. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- "Blues, Bluebonnets & BBQ this Saturday in Navasota". navasotaexaminer.com. April 6, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
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- "Christine M. Jones".