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Harrison County Map

Elysian Fields

Elysian Fields was first settled by Captain Edward Smith and his family in 1837. Prior to Smith's arrival, the area was home to a Cherokee Indian Village known as Biff Spring. (Marshall News Messenger Friday, March 2, 1962: Elysian Fields File D10-562, Harrison County Research Library Archives) The area was under a Spanish Grant, the Susan Laythen League, and consisted of 4,448 acres of land. After Texas gained independence from Mexico, Captain Smith went to Austin, Texas, got a patent on the land and purchased one hundred and sixty-one acres known as Elysian Fields in 1835. (Newspaper article; Elysian Fields File D10-562: Harrison County Historical Archives). Smith received a 2nd Class Headright Certificate which was a grant given to any man who arrived in the Republic of Texas after March 2, 1836 and prior to October 1, 1837. ("Republic & State of Texas," Pamphlet No. GLO-R-19-(1-82), General Land Office, Austin, TX. Hereinafter referred to as Republic).

The town name came from Smith who named the town for its comparison to the Elysian Fields of Greek mythology. Some of the first families to purchase land from Captain Smith included the Shaws, McCoys, Timmins, Anderson, Mitchells, Westmorelands, Cooks, Furrhs, and Woodals. Until 1839, Elysian Fields was considered the county seat of Harrison County. (Ancestor Issues Newsletter-December 2003). A post office was established in 1840, officially organizing the town of Elysian Fields. In 1885, James A. Furrh, influential in the town's development and owner of the first Elysian Fields general store, became the postmaster. (Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-Sept.30, 1971,, accessed March 20, 2013.

When the Southern Pacific Railroad arrived from Winnsboro in 1910, the town moved a mile to be closer to the terminus resulting in the original town site being called Old Elysian Fields.(Marshall News Messenger Friday, March 2, 1962: Elysian Fields File D10-564, Harrison County Archives) By 1940 though, all short line railroads were shut down which resulted in a population decline within the town. (Marshall News Messenger Friday, March 2, 1962: Elysian Fields File, Harrison County Research Library Archives). When natural gas was discovered in 1916, the community filed the second application in the nation for rural electricity.

As of 2013 Elysian Fields consists of a bank, a post office, school and a store. Similar to other towns in the area, Elysian Fields grew briefly during the 1950s due to oil and gas production, but today the rural area supports itself through raising livestock with a population of five hundred. (Pam Nordstrom, "Elysian Fields, TX," Handbook of Texas Online, (accessed April 02, 2013).


Hallsville was first settled in 1839 with the establishment of Fort Crawford, a fort built by William C. Crawford to protect the area from local Indian raids. In 1849, the fort contained a post office and a church. William Carroll Crawford received a first class headright which was land given by the Texas Republic to those who had fought in the Texas army. The land consisted of what is now known as the northern part of Hallsville as part of the Crawford survey which was surveyed by Lewis Watkins in 1838, although Crawford did not officially receive his patent until 1841. Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, Crawford sold parts of his land to other settlers within the area. The south part of Hallsville is land which came from the Hooper Survey. (Centennial Highlights-Fort Crawford, October 2, 1969, Hallsville File D13-725, Harrison County Archives.)

When the railroad arrived north of the Forth in 1869, the surrounding community migrated towards the railroad and named their community Hallsville. As a result of the terminus of the Southern Pacific railroad, Hallsville quickly became a boom town with businesses everywhere and a high increase in population. But when the Texas and Pacific railroad built in Longview and Marshall in 1872, the town, just as quickly as it evolved, began to disappear as people moved to the surrounding communities for business opportunities. Today, Hallsville maintains a population of 2,722 which has been growing in recent years, due to the town's school system. (Sallie M. Lentz, "Hallsville, TX" Handbook of Texas Online, (accessed April 02, 2013).


First inhabited by the Caddo Indians, Harleton was established in 1891 and was named for J.W. Harle, a sawmill operator who built a tram railroad from Marshall to move timber from his mill. Located in the midst of the Whelan gas fields, Harleton has been an important petroleum center since 1946 as being the site of two oil blending plants. (Harleton File D13-741, Harrison County Archives). Thomas Whitfield Davidson, raised north of Harleton in a community known as Smyrna was Marshall's City Attorney from 1907-1913 and served on the Texas Senate in 1920. His political success continued when he was elected Governor of Texas in 1922 and then as the U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Texas in 1936 until his retirement in 1965. The Josephine Davidson Chapel, also located north of Harleton, was constructed by Thomas Davidson as a memorial for his mother who raised him not far from the chapel home.


Jonesville, once called Border, had its first post office from 1847-1849. In 1850, the town and the post office were re-named Jonesville after William Jones who operated the first store within the community in 1849. (Mark Odintz, "Jonesville, TX," Handbook of Texas Online, In 1868, a change in the rail line caused the town center to move its location a mile and a half south to be on the Southern Pacific Railroad which ran from Sawnson's Landing to Marshall. In 1874, the town moved once again to its present site to be near the facilities by the Texas and Pacific railroad. (Jonesville File D16-900, Harrison County Archives).

By 1884, due to the efforts of Dr. Samuel Floyd Vaughan, the town had a steam cotton mill, along with a general store. In the late 1880s Dr. Samuel Vaughan along with James Estes turned the Jones Trading Post into the T.C. Lindsey General Store which is still in business today. ("Dr. Samuel Floyd Vaughan: Doctor, Agriculturist, Business Man, 1844-1916," Martha Shepherd Vaughan.) Although the railroad depot closed in 1945, the cotton gin continued to operate until the late 1960s.

Five movies have been filmed in Jonesville: "Bayou Boy" (1970), "The Pond" (1974), "The Stroke of Murder" (1974), "The Evictors" (1979), and a NBC mini TV series, "The Long Hot Summer" (1985). The only thing remaining of Jonesville today is the General Store and remnants of the Cotton Mill, as of 2000, the population was only twenty-five.


Karnack, was organized in 1898, followed by the establishment of a post office by Charles C. Baker. The first general store was run by Thomas Jefferson Taylor, father of Claudia Alta Taylor who was later known as "Lady Bird" Johnson. The town was named Karnack because it was the same distance from Port Caddo (an important port of entry in Republic days) as Karnack in Egypt was from Thebes. In 1934, Thomas J. Taylor gave the state of Texas two-thirds of the land composing Caddo Lake State Park. (Texas Sketches-A.C. Greene, Karnack File D16-910, Harrison County Archives). One of the largest disasters in southern waters happened a few miles from Karnack at Swanson's Landing: sixty passengers aboard the river steamer Mittie Stevens lost their lives when the New Orleans boat burned and sank in Caddo Lake on February 11, 1869. (Marshall News Messenger, July 5, 1971, Karnack File D16-910, Harrison County Archives).

Karnack is also the home to the Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant which was established in 1942 and manufactured TNT, munitions, pytotechnic devices, and solid fuel rocket motors during its years of operation. In 1989, according to the Texas Handbook Online, "the plant site was designated to fire and destroy Pershing IA and II missiles under the terms of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union, which was completed in 1991." (Mark Odintz, "Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant," Handbook of Texas Online


According to the Texas Handbook Online, Leigh, established sometime before 1900, was first called Antioch, after the Antioch Baptist Church organized by the surrounding community. The town was later renamed Leigh in 1901, after the wife of John W. Furrh, who owned most of the land on the railroad that went through the community. Sallie M. Lentz, "Leigh, TX," Handbook of Texas Online

The community evolved from a three thousand acre plantation called Mimosa Hall which was built in 1844 by John Johnston Webster. Descendents of Webster, known as the Blocker family still reside in the area. Other plantations within the area included Locust Grove built in 1849 on six hundred and forty acres by Alpheus Wright. After the railroad was rerouted north of Leigh in the 1850s both plantations began to decline along with the surrounding population. Today it is estimated that around one hundred people live in the area. Due to Webster's and Wright's large slave holdings, the population of Leigh was a predominantly black and remains so today.


Marshall was established in 1839 and named after Chief Justice John Marshall. The town is located at the center of Harrison County and became the county seat of government 1842. Peter Whetstone, an ealy settler of the area, owned most of the land that makes up Marshall due to recieving a land grant in 1841 from Anson Jones, President of the new Texas Republic. In order to persuade commissioners to move the county seat to Marshall, Whetstone donated land for a town square, a church, and a school, along with a hundred and ninety city lots.

Due to the Southern Pacific Railroad in the 1850s, later replaced by the Texas and Pacific Railroad in the 1870s, Marshall soon became the wealthiest towns in Harrison County along with the largest population which is evident in the number of historic homes that still remain within the town. Since the establishment of Marshall, the town has played a huge role within the political world. During the Civil War it was the home to the Confederate Missouri government. After the war, Marshall became the home to federal forces along with the Freedman's Bureau. Marshall continues to be the county seat of government in 2013, the largest town in the county.


Nesbitt was founed in 1848 and named after twin brothers, Robert Jameison Nesbitt and Nathan L. Nesbitt. The brothers purchased two sections of land from Sampson McCowan, a veteran of the Texas Revolution.


Scottsville was officially formed in 1865, although the founder, William Thomas Scott, his family, and his large slave population had lived in the area since 1840. William T. Scott owned thousands of acres that sprawled from the south of Elysian Fields, to Caddo Lake and Jonesville, to the south side of Marshall. On this land W.T. Scott owned five plantations. Scottsville is the home to generations of Scotts. The Scottsville cemetery, located off of FM 1998, was first established by William Thomas Scott as a burial ground for his family. This sacred spot has continued to be the family burial site through the twenty-first century. (Christine A. Keffeler, "Scottsville, TX" Handbook of Texas Online Modern Scottsville is known chiefly as a nursery center as a result of the Verhalen family, Scott descendents, who propagate plants to be sold throughout the country. Santa Gertrudis and Angus cattle breeds are also raised on the land that was once part of the extensive Scott acreage. (Scottsville File D25-1434, Harrison County Historical Library Archives)


Uncertain, officially established in 1861, is part of the Caddo Lake Community and according to local tradition the community received its name due to the trouble steamboat captains had in bringing their vessels into the Uncertain port. ("Uncertain, TX," Handbook of Texas Online, Another explanation comes from the early 1900s when people often declared that it was "uncertain," whether or not horses, mules and wagons could get out of town during flood season. Uncertain sits only 168 feet above sea level and often floods. (Marshall News Messenger-January 21, 1990, Uncertain File D28-1623, Harrison County Archives). Uncertain became a "Wetland of International Importance" in 1993, one of only a dozen sites designated by the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental treaty. Supposedly around 1800, a huge logjam called the Great Raft clogged the Red River at Shreveport, Louisiana. Heavy rains filled the red and burst its banks a few miles east of present-day Caddo Lake, sending a torrent of water into the valley of Big Cypress Bayou, the lake's main tributary. The resulting flood transformed lowland forests into a maze of swamps, ponds, and open water. (Uncertain "Texas Highways," Randy Mallory, Uncertain File D28-1623, Harrison County Archives.)

Caddo Lake became one of the most popular fishing resorts in this area of the country during the late 1800s. The natural lake covers fifty-seven miles over 32,700 acres and is the largest natural body of water in Texas. In 1845, Texas officials set the state boundary down the middle of the lake: half was in Texas, the other half was in Louisiana. During the mid-1800s, steamboats moved their way around the Caddo waters via the Mississippi and the Red Rvers. Due to its access to the outside world, Port Caddo was transformed into a cotton-shipping port, which resulted in the growth of Jefferson, Texas in the neighboring Marion County. A dynamite explosion in the 1870s destroyed the log jam, known as the Great Raft, which drained much of the lake, shutting down shipping business and closing many ports. After oil was discovered under Caddo Lake in 1911 (site of some of the earliest offshore drilling in Texas), a dam was constructed in Mooringsport, Louisiana in 1914 which moderated Caddo's fluctuating water levels.

Caddo Lake is also the best breeding ground for white perch and bass in the United States. Because it has large areas of shallow waters, it provides ideal condition for spawning, and furnishes most of the stock for the Texas fish hatcheries each year. The Dallas Caddo Club, a two-hundred acre hunting and fishing club, located in Uncertain, was founded in 1912 and is the oldest continuous operation on the lake. It was operated by a tourism group out of Dallas, and advertised as an ideal men's get away for hunting and fishing. (Dallas Caddo Club File, Harrison County Archives). The area continues to thrive on an economy of hunting and fishing as well as giving Caddo Lake boat tours. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the population numbered one hundred and fifty and remains about the same today.


Waskom was established in 1850 and was first known as Powellton after Jonathan S. Powell who received a 640-acre land grant. The other portion of Waskom included land purchased by Jonathan's brother, Thomas D. Powell from a land grant issued to W.H. Adams. (Waskom, Texas, Eudora Coleman Hodges, Waskom File D29-1674B, Harrison County Archives.) The Texas 1846 census shows Powell residing in Harrison County but under no township. (Texas Census 1820-90, A post office was established under the name of Powellton in 1850 which officially established the town and continued to run until 1872. According to the U.S. Appointments of Postmasters, John M. Waskom was appointed the General Postmaster in 1866 for Powellton (Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-Sept. 30, 1971).

On March 18, 1872, Powellton was changed to "Waskom Station," (later changed again to Waskom) in honor of the Reverend John M. Waskom who was instrumental in bringing the railroad through the town. John Waskom was a stockholder in an early railroad company of the area, Texas and Pacific (not the same as the later T & P line,) and it was through his influence and management that the railroad line from Marshall was extended through Waskom to the Louisiana line. (Waskom, Texas, Eudora Coleman Hodges, Waskom File D29-1674B, Harrison County Archives.)

Located in Waskom is the Winston-Taylor home which was built in 1941, by attorney Winston Taylor, the home stands on the location of Jonathan Powell's first home. (Newspaper Article June 27, 1935, Waskom File D29-1674B, Harrison County Archives.) Waskom's population fluctuated near a couple hundred until 1920 when the population grew to 1,000 after oil was discovered in the area. (Sallie M. Lentz, "Waskom, TX," Handbook of Texas Online Waskom remains a rural community with a population of 2,169 as of 2011. (City-Data-Waskom, Texas,