Stephen F. Austin State University

Chambers County

Located in Southeast Texas, the county formed from Liberty and Jefferson counties in 1858 with Wallisville as the county seat. A part of the Atascosita district of Nacogdoches, owing to its humid climate, human habitation in the area was scarce, but production of rice, cattle, corn and grains, various types of vegetables thrived. Natural resources include timber, oil, and gas. Cotton never developed into a powerful economic factor.

Research suggests that the Indian tribes of the Karankawa, Coapite, and Copane, first inhabited the area around 1000 A.D. Spaniards entered the region sometime in the 1600s and 1700s, and established dominance in the area until the 1750s, when French expeditions caused the Spanish to fortify the area and expel the French. The Alabama-Coushatta, Bidais and Orcoquizas Indians traveled into the Spanish territory in the early 1800s. Territorial tensions in the 1810s and 1820s, as a result of Mexican Independence, spawned the annexation of Texas.

The County voted for secession but the county never witnessed any battles during the Civil War. Despite work of the Freedmen's Bureau, Reconstruction legislation was overturned by the Democrats in the 1860s and 1870s. After the Civil War, Chambers County developed vibrant railroad and timber industries, which helped to further economic activity. The oil industry peaked in the 1930s, alleviating much of the problems of the market depression. The county's economy boomed during World War II because of oil refineries, with production topping out at more than 8 million barrels per year.

City / State / Federal - County Commission

Museum/Historic Site

City/State/Federal Agency


Text: Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association.

To learn more about Chambers County's history check out our Local Voices' writer Kevin Ladd's column "Chambers County Perspectives" on our Local Voices page.