Tennessee Colony, Texas

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Tennessee Colony
Unincorporated community
Tennessee Colony is located in Texas
Tennessee Colony
Tennessee Colony
Location within the state of Texas
Tennessee Colony is located in the US
Tennessee Colony
Tennessee Colony
Tennessee Colony (the US)
Coordinates: 31°50′8″N 95°50′20″W / 31.83556°N 95.83889°W / 31.83556; -95.83889Coordinates: 31°50′8″N 95°50′20″W / 31.83556°N 95.83889°W / 31.83556; -95.83889
Country United States
State Texas
County Anderson
Elevation 364 ft (111 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 150
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 75861, 75880, 75884, and 75886
GNIS feature ID 1348366[1]

Tennessee Colony is an unincorporated community in Anderson County, in the U.S. state of Texas.[1] According to the Handbook of Texas, the community had a population of 300 in 2000. It is located within the Palestine, Texas micropolitan area.


Tennessee Colony was established in 1847 by settlers from Tennessee and Alabama, who named their settlement for one of their home states. The first settlers who settled in the community had the last names Shelton, Avant, Hank, and Seagler. The community's fertile soil and moist climate made it feasible to grow cotton, and several plantations were established, including the Jackson Plantation, which was at one time among the largest plantations in East Texas. They were extremely successful. A post office was established at Tennessee Colony in 1852. Before the Civil War, as well as after, the community fell victim to racial tensions. Two white men from Mississippi named Cable and Wyrick were accused of plotting a slave uprising in 1860, in which they encouraged slaves to kill most of the community's white residents by poisoning the water supply in the settlement. They were tried and hanged soon after. The nearby city of Palestine had the community's first railroad built there. As of 1884 Tennessee Colony boasted a population of 200 and three churches, a steam-powered gristmill, and a cotton gin. As the community's businesses moved to the nearby city of Palestine, the community's population plummeted over the next few decades. There were a few grocers and cotton gins in the area, and it eventually received a telephone connection. It functioned as a small cultural port in the 20th century. The population declined to just 100 people by 1914, rose again to 300 in 1927, but again declined during the 1930s. In 1941 there were 150 people in Tennessee Colony. A total of 21,000 acres of land was purchased just southwest of the settlement by the Texas Department of Corrections in 1965, and the first medium security prison facility named the Coffield Unit was built in the community and held approximately 2,000 prisoners. It reached its population zenith of 400 by that year. Then the Beto Unit, the community's second prison, was finished in 1984. There were factories built for fabricating metal, as well as building concrete blocks and highway signs, in these prison facilities. It also had thriving agricultural and livestock operations. It had a steady population of 120 from the 1970s to 1990. It had a population of 300 in 2000. It currently has two historical markers, with one honoring the community, and the other commemorating the community's cemetery.[2]

Although Tennessee Colony is unincorporated, it has a post office, with the ZIP code of 75861.[3]

On November 15, 2015, a deadly mass shooting took place at a campsite in Tennessee Colony, where six people were shot and killed. The shooter was apprehended and charged.[4]


Tennessee Colony stands along Farm to Market Road 321, 14 mi (23 km) northwest of Palestine in the northwestern part of Anderson County.[2]


A log school opened in Tennessee Colony in 1851, and the name of the teacher was Mr. Grant Kersky. A man named Seymour tried to open a school for African American children when he arrived in the community in 1869, but the settlers ardently opposed this and forced him to leave. It had a school in 1884.[2] Today the community is served by the Cayuga Independent School District.

Government and infrastructure[edit]

Three major Texas Department of Criminal Justice correctional facilities, the George Beto Unit,[5] the Coffield Unit,[6] and the Mark W. Michael Unit,[7] are located near Tennessee Colony and use the community's name in their mailing addresses. They are all co-located with the Louis C. Powledge Unit and the Gurney Unit, which use Palestine, Texas mailing addresses.[8][9]


  1. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Tennessee Colony, Texas
  2. ^ a b c Tennessee Colony, TX from the Handbook of Texas Online
  3. ^ ZIP Code lookup
  4. ^ Digital Media Staff, KLTV. KLTV ABC http://www.kltv.com/story/30528560/sheriff-six-killed-in-campsite-homicide-suspect-charged.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Beto Unit, Texas Department of Criminal Justice website. Retrieved on January 19, 2016.
  6. ^ Coffield Unit, Texas Department of Criminal Justice website. Retrieved on January 19, 2016.
  7. ^ Michael Unit, Texas Department of Criminal Justice website. Retrieved on January 19, 2016.
  8. ^ "Powledge (B2)." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on January 7, 2016.
  9. ^ Gurney Unit, Texas Department of Criminal Justice website. Retrieved on January 19, 2016.