Stephen F. Austin State University

Panola County

Panola County, adapted from the Cherokee word for cotton, ponolo, is located in northeastern Texas. Carthage is the county seat. In 1846, the Texas Legislature incorporated Panola County from pieces of Shelby and Harrison counties. Two years later (1848), Panola County chose Carthage as its seat. Various tribes of the Caddo Indians inhabited the area until European advancement in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

During the fifteen years before the Civil War, the county expanded in size and diversified its economic infrastructure through the sale of cotton, sweet potatoes, and livestock. After the war and through the 1920s, Panola County began to stabilize and recover, primarily through the cotton and logging industries. Railroads created additional jobs and helped to build the county's infrastructure. Throughout the 1920s, the county's population decreased slightly, but cotton helped stabilize the uncertain market.

After the Great Depression, the population declined because of a sharp nosedive in property values and available land. The only industry that remained strong through the depression, cotton, took a permanent hit and never recovered. After World War II, Panola County's population decreased over the next several decades because of a combination of permanent decreased land values and decline of the cotton industry. However, by the 1960s and 1970s, the county government worked hard to reinvigorate the depleted soil, but the oil industry became the prominent economy force in the 1970s.

Museum/Historic Site



Text: Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association

To learn more about Hardin County's history check out our Local Voice's writer Vina Lee's column "Peek into Panola" on our Local Voices page.