Stephen F. Austin State University

Walker County

Walker County, formed in 1846, is located in the southeast portion of Texas. The county seat is located in Huntsville. The county's namesake is Robert J. Walker, a legislator from Mississippi who advocated for Texas' annexation. The Cenis Indians were the first inhabitants and occupied an area between the Trinity and San Jacinto Rivers. The Bidais, Alabama-Coushatta, Neches, and other Indian tribes from Nacogdoches expelled the Cenis from the area. As early as 1542, under the leadership of Spaniard Luis de Moscoso Alvarado, the first explorations of the area began; in 1687, Frenchman René Robert Cavelier passed through the area.

Increased corn and cotton production provided an economic and population boom in the 1850s. The expansion of the economy ushered in the use of slaves which resulted in slaves outnumbering free citizens on the eve of the Civil War. Walker County joined the Confederacy and contributed two companies of men. After the outbreak of the Civil War, Robert Walker sided with the Union and the citizens of the county voted in favor of changing the namesake of the county to Samuel H. Walker.

The economy slowly recovered after the Civil war and continued to grow corn and cotton. The introduction of railroads and sawmills also helped increase local economic production. Sharecroppers and freedmen took over farming the land as a way to earn a living. The county's economy sustained itself until the Great Depression, during which the county switched to a manufacturing and extraction based economy, including large lumber operations.

Museum/Historic Site

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