Richland Chambers Lake Texas Real Estate - Residential, Farms, Ranches & Lakefront Property
 

AREA HISTORY


ST. ELMO, TEXAS is on FM 416 on the south side of Richland Chambers and was settled about 1849 by families from Georgia, Alabama and Florida and was supposedly named from a popular nineteenth-century novel.  The population of St. Elmo began to decline in the early 1900’s when the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway was built through the nearby town of  Streetman.  By the 1930s St. Elmo reported twenty-five residents and a church, school, a cemetery, a business and a few scattered dwellings.  A school cafeteria and auditorium were built in 1941, when oil was discovered within the school district, but the district was annexed by Fairfield in 1948.  The auditorium was used as a community center until it was destroyed by fire in 1972. 

FAIRFIELD, TEXAS  is the county seat of Freestone County, is at the junction of Interstate 45, U.S. Highways 75 and 84, and Farm roads 27, 488 and 1580, in the center of the county.  The site was originally called Mound Prairie, but the name was changed to Fairfield when the location was chosen for the county seat in 1850.  The original town site consisting of 100 acres was donated by David Hall Love.  Rich farmland, vast amounts of timber, clear springs and proximity to the Trinity River for transportation attracted settlers from the eastern states.  Fairfield acquired a post office  in 1851 and  by September 1852 had three dry-goods stores, two hotels, a grocery and a jail.

A weekly newspaper, the Texas Pioneer was established at Fairfield in 1957.  Subsequent newspapers included the Ledger (1869-72) and the Recorder, first published in 1876 and still in existence in the 1990s.

From 1890 to 1931 and again in 1933, Fairfield was the site of an annual reunion of Confederate veterans, who held their three-day gathering on land donated by William Lewis Moody and his brother Leroy. In 1951 the town held its centennial celebration on the old reunion campground.  The success of the centennial led the townspeople to begin holding an annual rodeo-homecoming festival, which evolved into the county fair held each November.  Other annual events include the Queen of the Trinity Star Pilgrimage in the spring, the National Coon Hunters Association meeting in the fall, and an arts and crafts fair in November.  Local attractions and recreation facilities include the Freestone County Historical Museum and the Fairfield Lake State Park completed in 1972.

CORSICANA, TEXAS, county seat and largest city of Navarro County is in the central portion of the county and fifty-eight miles southeast of Dallas at the junction of Interstate 45, U. S. highways 75 and 287 and State highways 22 and 31.  It was established in 1848 to serve as the county seat of newly-established Navarro County.  Jose Antonio Navarro, a hero of the Texas Revolution after whom the county was named, was given the honor of naming the new town.  He suggested Corsicana after the island of Corsica, the birthplace of his parents.  David R. Mitchell, an early area settler, donated 100 acres for the town site and with the assistance of Thomas I. Smith, platted the land and began selling lots.  The new torn was centered near a log tavern built in 1847 and owned and operated by Rev. Hampton McKinney.  The first courthouse, a two-room log structure was constructed in 1849 and served as a church, meeting hall and civic center until a new frame building was constructed in 1853.  Within a few years of the town’s founding, a larger number of mercantile establishments opened on and around the courthouse square, and new brick courthouse – a symbol of the town’s growing prosperity was erected in 1858.  The first newspaper, the Prairie Blade, was founded in 1855; it was replaced by the Express in 1857, which in turn was replaced by the Observer on the eve of the Civil War.

The greatest spur to the town’s development, however, came in November 1871 with the completion of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad.  The coming of the railroad brought numerous settlers and new merchants, among them the Sanger Brothers, the Padgitts and others, who established stores near the new depot on East Collin Street. 

In 1900 Corsicana had grown to 9313 inhabitants, with three banks, twelve newspapers, eight hotels, forty-nine retail stores, a cotton mill, thirty-two doctors and thirty-five saloons.  The presence of the latte was a cause of great concern to many Corsicanans and led to a growing temperance movement in the city that culminated in the passage of prohibition law in November 1904.  The closing of the saloons had some short-term benefits, but bootleggers rapidly filled the gap, serving the needs of the legions of oilfield workers.

The oil boom brought a new wave of prosperity to the town.  A new courthouse – the one still in use in 1990 was completed in 1905 and in 1917 the Corsicana Chamber of Commerce was founded.

Corsicana’s leading industries during the 1950s included the Texas-Miller Products Company, a leading producer of hats; the Oil City Iron Works; the Wolf Brand Company, producer of chili and tamales; several textile plants; the Bethlehem Supply Company and Collin Street Bakery, a leading producer of fruitcakes.

 

The above HISTORY was obtained from Handbook of Texas. 

 
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