Stephen F. Austin State University

Houston County

Houston County is located in central East Texas and is Republic of Texas' first county. Located in rich forests of pines and hardwoods, the northwest portion of Nacogdoches, Trinity, Anderson, and Henderson Counties formed Houston County in 1837. The county's namesake is Sam Houston, the first President of the Republic of Texas, and the county in honor of David Crockett.

Anthropological research indicates that Caddo Indians lived in the area roughly 1,000 years ago. Houston County's population expanded around the Trinity and Neches Rivers in the 1830s, which allowed farmers and merchants to sell goods to neighboring towns. In the 1840s, the county's citizens adapted a farming system based on mostly cotton. The county voted for secession.

The abolition of slaves caused an economic depression that left the county's farmers in near poverty conditions. The county's economy began to improve in the 1870s and 1880s because of an increase of people migrating into the area. A large population meant increased production of agricultural products like corn and cotton, but also through the entrance of railroads that passed through the county.

Along with railroads, mining and the discovery of oil created newfound wealth for many in the county. The Great Depression lowered land values, which put many people out of work. After the economy recovered, logging became the predominant moneymaker, along with crop production of cotton, wheat, peanuts, watermelon, and other items. Currently, Houston County is brings in revenue from oil and gas production, and tourism.

City / State / Federal - County Commission


Museum/Historic Site


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

To learn more about Houston County's history check out our Local Voices' writer Lynda Jones column "On a Historical Note" on our Local Voices Page.