Stephen F. Austin State University

Cherokee County

Cherokee County is named for Cherokee Indians who inhabited the area dating back to the Clovis culture until 780 A.D., when the Caddos arrived. The county contains natural resources like oil, natural gas, and timber. Archaeological research suggests that the early and late Caddo period lasted several centuries until the emergence of the Spanish and French in the 1540s and 1680s. Historical research indicates that first European contact took place in 1691 and 1705, but remained untouched by Europeans until the end of the century.

Businessmen from Nacogdoches, William Barr and Peter Samuel Davenport, received the first recorded land grant in 1798. However, discrepancies between Anglos and leaders from the Cherokees, Delawares, Shawnees, and Kickapoos, arose which led to a bitter fight between the two groups throughout the 1820s. Indian leaders appealed to retrieve their lost land, but Empresario David G. Burnett denied the request, and instead gave the land to the Anglos. In the 1830s, southerners migrated into the county and began farming cotton, wheat, and corn.

The county voted for secession and contributed weapons to the Confederacy. After the war, railroads expanded the county's agricultural production of cotton. Land acquisitions increased which established a farming economy that lasted until the Great Depression. The oil and timber industries boomed during the 1930s and 1940s, which stabilized the economy during the Great Depression. Despite a strong economy, the county never recovered its cotton and fruit sales. Cherokee County's highway system underwent renovation via the New Deal, which strengthened the economy.

Museum/Historic Site


City/State/Federal Agency

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

To learn more about Cherokee County's history check out our Local Voices' writer Deborah L Burkett's column "Images and Stories from Cherokee County" on our Local Voices page.