Stephen F. Austin State University

Marion County

Marion County is located in northeastern Texas and was founded in the 1840s. Its namesake is in honor of the "Swamp Fox," Francis Marion. The county seat and biggest city is Jefferson. Settlers in the area migrated from other southern states. The county borders the Red River, which proved to be a valuable source of transportation and trade. The county and its surrounding counties became the focal point for commerce in the early years of Texas.

Citizens voted to secede from the Union and profited nicely from manufacturing products given to the Confederacy. After the war, Marion County's economy greatly suffered because of decreased manufacturing jobs. However, with the introduction of railroads in the 1870s, the economy stabilized and began to improve in the latter decades of the nineteenth century. The leading crop production during this time was corn, cattle, and cotton.

The number of farms increased from 1900 to 1920, which meant an increase of tenant farmers and sharecroppers.The oil industry produced great wealth throughout the county leading up to the Great Depression. After the market collapse, farmland declined precipitously with many workers going out of business, which meant a permanent transition to mechanized labor. The new labor force and tourism revived the economy during the next thirty years. In the latter half of the twentieth century, Marion County witnessed the emergence of the timber industry and saw an increase in the wealth of the county.

Museum/Historic Site


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