Palestine, Texas

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For other uses, see Palestine (disambiguation).
Palestine City Hall
Palestine City Hall
Location of Palestine, Texas
Location of Palestine, Texas
Coordinates: 31°45′29″N 95°38′19″W / 31.75806°N 95.63861°W / 31.75806; -95.63861Coordinates: 31°45′29″N 95°38′19″W / 31.75806°N 95.63861°W / 31.75806; -95.63861
Country  United States
State  Texas
County Anderson
 • Type Council-Manager
 • City Council Mayor Bob Herrington
Will Brule
Mitchell Jordan
Vickie Chivers
Joseph Thompson
Doug Smith
Steve Presley
 • Interim City Manager Mike Alexander
 • Total 19.6 sq mi (50.7 km2)
 • Land 19.4 sq mi (50.2 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.5 km2)
Elevation 482 ft (147 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 18,712
 • Density 965/sq mi (372.7/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 75800-75899
Area code(s) 903
FIPS code 48-54708[1]
GNIS feature ID 1364714[2]

Palestine (/ˈpælstn/ PAL-e-steen) is a city in Anderson County, Texas, in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 18,712.[3] It is the county seat.[4] Palestine was named for Palestine, Illinois, by Daniel Parker.[5]

Palestine is a relatively small town located on the Piney Woods equidistant from the major airport cities of Dallas, Houston and Shreveport and is notable for its natural beauty characterized by a magnificent dogwood floral blooming season, for 1,800 historical sites on the National Register of Historic Places and is the western terminus of the Texas State Railroad, a steam and diesel railroad museum operating between Palestine and Rusk.

The largest employer is the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which employs more than 3,900. Another 1,600 work at two Wal-Mart distribution centers. Other significant employers include a thriving medical and healthcare sector that tends to the large population of retirees.

Palestine entered the news in February 2003, as one of the East Texas towns that received much of the debris from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, where seven astronauts were killed.[6]

Palestine is also home to the NASA Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (renamed after the shuttle crash), which has flown 1,700 high-altitude balloons for universities and research agencies.


In 1846, the Texas Legislature created Palestine to serve as a seat for the newly established Anderson County. James R. Fulton, Johnston Shelton and William Bigelow were hired by the first Anderson County commissioners to survey the surrounding land and lay out a town site, consisting of a central courthouse square and the surrounding 24 blocks.[7] Antedating the town was a temporary trading post in operation since at least 1843.[8] It grew significantly following the arrival of the railroad in the 1870s.[9] It had a population of over 10,000 by 1898.[10]

Historical map showing layout of Palestine, Texas in 1885

Palestine, Texas was named so by Micham Main. Mr. Micham Main gave the name, Palestine, to the embryo city, in honor of his native town in Illinois, from which he emigrated, to place his influence and his life upon the side of right and justice in the great struggle for the independence of the peerless, the lone star State.[11]

2015 campsite shooting[edit]

On November 16, 2015, six people were killed at a campsite near Palestine in what local authorities said was the largest homicide in the area. A suspect, William Hudson, 33, was arrested, charged with murder, and held on a $2.5 million bond.[12] Investigating officers, responding to a 911 call from a female survivor hiding in the woods, initially found two bodies in a camping trailer but were unable to locate four other people, including a child. The four other bodies were later found in a farm pond nearby. The remote area is between Harmony and Tennessee Colony.[13]


Palestine is located near the center of Anderson County at 31°45′29″N 95°38′19″W / 31.75806°N 95.63861°W / 31.75806; -95.63861 (31.757925, -95.638473).[14] Several numbered highways converge on the city, including U.S. Highways 79, 84, and 287, plus Texas State Highways 19 and 155. Dallas is 110 miles (180 km) to the northwest, and Houston is 150 miles (240 km) to the south. Tyler is 47 miles (76 km) to the northeast.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.6 square miles (50.7 km2), of which 19.4 square miles (50.2 km2) is land and 0.19 square miles (0.5 km2), or 1.06%, is covered by water.[3]

Surrounding municipalities[edit]


Palestine, Texas
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: / NWS
  • The average warmest month is July.
  • The highest recorded temperature was 114 °F in 1954.
  • On average, the coolest month is January.
  • The lowest recorded temperature was -4 °F in 1930.
  • The maximum average precipitation occurs in October.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 2,000
1860 1,938 −3.1%
1870 2,311 19.2%
1880 2,997 29.7%
1890 5,838 94.8%
1900 8,297 42.1%
1910 10,482 26.3%
1920 11,039 5.3%
1930 11,445 3.7%
1940 12,144 6.1%
1950 12,503 3.0%
1960 13,974 11.8%
1970 14,525 3.9%
1980 15,948 9.8%
1990 18,042 13.1%
2000 17,598 −2.5%
2010 18,712 6.3%
Est. 2015 18,288 [15] −2.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[16]

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 17,598 people, 6,641 households, and 4,582 families residing in the city. The population density was 994.3 people per square mile (383.9/km²). There were 7,668 housing units at an average density of 433.2 per square mile (167.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 64.60% White, 24.77% African American, 0.49% Native American, 0.79% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 7.90% from other races, and 1.37% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 14.88% of the population.

There were 6,641 households out of which 34.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.2% were married couples living together, 18.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.0% were non-families. 28.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.13.

In the city the population was spread out with 29.1% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 20.0% from 45 to 64, and 16.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 84.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,497, and the median income for a family was $36,806. Males had a median income of $28,331 versus $20,662 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,514. About 16.6% of families and 20.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.7% of those under age 18 and 14.6% of those age 65 or over.


The Anderson County Courthouse is located in Palestine. It was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1988 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 28, 1992.

Local government[edit]

According to the city's most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the city's various funds had $12.6 million in revenues, $11.8 million in expenditures, $6.2 million in total assets, $0.7 million in total liabilities, and $4.2 million in cash in investments.[17]

State government[edit]

Palestine is represented in the Texas Senate by Republican Robert Nichols, District 3, and in the Texas House of Representatives by Republican Byron Cook, District 8.

National government[edit]

At the national level, the two U.S. senators from Texas are Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz; Palestine is part of Texas' US Congressional 5th District, currently represented by Republican Jeb Hensarling.


Public school districts[edit]

With almost 3,500 students the Palestine Independent School District is the largest school district in Palestine.[18] The district comprises:

  • Palestine High School, grades 9-12
  • Palestine Junior High, grades 7-8
  • A. M. Story Elementary, grades 4-6
  • Southside Primary, grades 2-3
  • Northside Early Childhood Center, pre-k -1

Located on the western edge of the city is the Westwood Independent School District. It is home to approximately 1,700 students.[19] It consists of a primary, elementary, junior high and high school campus.

Westwood Independent School District

  • Westwood High School, grades 9-12
  • Westwood Junior High, grades 7-8
  • Westwood Elementary, grades 3-6
  • Westwood Primary, grades K-2

Charter schools[edit]

Innovation Academy, charter school of The University of Texas at Tyler, began in 2012 with grades 3-6. Grades 7-12 will be added at the rate of one per year. Location: NW Loop 256 @ Highway 287N.

A small portion of remote area of the City is also within the Elkhart ISD.

Colleges and universities[edit]

Trinity Valley Community College operates TVCC-Palestine just north of the city limits at the intersection of US 287 and State Highway 19. In addition to offering academic transfer courses the Palestine campus offers vocational-technical programs in vocational nursing, cosmetology, mid-management, computer science, criminal justice, business and office technology, fire science, legal assistant, emergency medical technician and paramedic programs and also trains correctional officers for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Continuing education and adult education courses are also offered.[20]

The University of Texas at Tyler also operates a campus in the city. A new $9.6 million 50-acre (200,000 m2) campus opened in 2010, fall semester.[21] The UT Tyler Palestine Campus currently offers courses in Nursing, Business, Education, Health and Kinesiology and History.[22]

Dogwood Trails Festival[edit]

The Dogwood Trails Festival occurs each spring over the last two weekends of March and the first weekend in April.[23]

Dogwood Jamboree[edit]

The Dogwood Jamboree is held every two months at the Palestine Civic Center. The country and western concert is hosted by Pastor Dan Manuel and a variety of country and western artists. Each performance always features new talent, young, older, and in-between. The newest addition to the Dogwood Jamboree features a talent competition developing young artists under the age of 18. People come from all over the nation and from foreign countries to see the performances.

Palestine welcome sign off U.S. Route 79

Roads and highways[edit]

Notable people[edit]

References in popular culture[edit]

Popular artist T-Bone Burnett released a song with the title "Palestine, Texas", in which he mispronounces the name of the town. The artist performed the song on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in May 2006.

It is mentioned in two songs by Sam Baker.

Whiskey Myers says "Palestine,Tx" in the song Kyle Hope.




  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Palestine city, Texas". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  5. ^ Kelsey, Mavis P. and Dyal, Donald H. The Courthouses of Texas (2nd ed.). Texas A&M University Press, College Station, 2000, p31.
  6. ^ Astronaut Diary Survives Columbia Accident
  7. ^ Original Platmap of the City of Palestine, TX Portal to Texas History
  8. ^ A Memorial and Biographical History of Navarro, Henderson, Anderson, Limestone, Freestone and Leon Counties, Texas. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company. 1893. p. 262. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "Palestine, Texas", found in the Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities
  10. ^ Palestine City Directory, 1898-1899. Hensley-Arnold Co. 1898. p. 18. 
  11. ^ Anderson Co., TX - "A HISTORY OF PALESTINE"
  12. ^ Kris Kurst (November 17, 2015). "Man arrested after 6 found dead at Texas campsite". USA Today. Retrieved 2015-11-19. 
  13. ^ JENNIFER SHERIDAN (November 17, 2015). "Victim's ex-wife gives background on Hudson's anger". Palestine Herald-Press. Retrieved 2015-11-19. 
  14. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  15. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  17. ^ City of Palestine 2006 CAFR Retrieved 2009-06-10
  18. ^ School District Locator : Accessible Version
  19. ^ School District Locator : Accessible Version
  20. ^ Palestine
  21. ^ The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas - Paving the Way
  22. ^ "University of Texas at Tyler Palestine Campus" (digital). UT Tyler. Retrieved 2009-03-27. [dead link]
  23. ^ Palestine Herald Press: 1. April 3, 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. ^ "Jackson, John Ellett". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved July 28, 2015. 

External links[edit]