2000 Census - 2,024
Jefferson Texas History:
In the late 1830s, Allen Urquhartand Daniel Alley obtained land rights to adjacent parcels. In 1842, Urquhartplatted a town on his land, and Alley platted additional streets on his property which became known as Alley’s Addition. Instead of using the traditional town square arrangement for his town, Urquhart laid out the town along Big Cypress Creek with its streets running at right angles to the bayou. Alley's streets ran north-south and east-west. The Jefferson post office was established in 1846, the same year Jefferson became the county seat of Cass County, and served in this capacity until Linden became the Cass County seat in 1852. The town incorporated in 1848. At the time of the town’s founding a gigantic logjam clogged the Red River acting as a dam and raising the levels of the Big Cypress Bayou at Jefferson, the Red River and Caddo Lake by several feet. This allowed Jefferson to become an important port for steamboat traffic from New Orleans and other towns. At the peak of its port business, the town had over 7,000 residents and was the sixth largest town in Texas. Attempts to remove the log jam were unsuccessful until 1873 when the Army Corps of Engineers was finally able to clear the log raft by using the newly discovered nitroglycerin. The removal of the raft lowered the levels of Caddo Lake, making steamboat passage to Jefferson impossible and therefore ending Jefferson’s days as a port. In 1860, Jefferson became the county seat of the newly formed Marion County. That same year construction began on a railroad to link Shreveport and Marshall. Only 45 miles of line were completed before the Civil War halted construction. In 1873, the Texas and Pacific Railway built a line from Texarkana to Marshall, bypassing Jefferson, though a line was built to Jefferson the next year. In 1867, Jefferson became the first town in Texas to use natural gas for lights. The next year it had an ice plant. Jefferson had 3,800 residents in 1940. The population has slowly declined since that time. Jefferson’s National Register Historic District covers approximately 47 blocks, and includes 56 historic buildings. In addition, approximately 10 other National Register buildings are located outside the district. Activities at the annual Spring Pilgrimage event include visits to these historic buildings. The town is billed as the “Riverport to the Southwest.” Jefferson is located on Big Cypress Creek at the intersections of U.S. 59, SH 49 and FM 2208, 10 miles east of the Lake O’ the Pines Dam, 59 miles east of Lake Bob Sandlin, 47 miles southeast of Pittsburg, 32 miles southeast of Daingerfield and Daingerfield State Park, 19.7 miles south of Linden, 57 miles southwest of Texarkana, 44 miles southwest of Wright Patman Lake, 35 miles southwest of Atlanta and Atlanta State Park, 17.7 miles northwest of Uncertain and Caddo Lake, 13.8 miles northwest of Karnack and Caddo Lake State Park, 17 miles north of Marshall, 42 miles northeast of Martin Creek Lake State Park, 36.8 miles northeast of Tatum, 57 miles northeast of Gladewater, 52 miles northeast of Kilgore, and 35.5 miles northeast of Longview, Texas.
Jefferson Historic District:
The town has escaped the destruction of its historic district that often occurs in the name of progress. Many of the town’s historic buildings have been beautifully and authentically restored. In 1971, approximately 47 blocks containing fifty-six historic structures were listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Approximately 10 other National Register properties are located outside this district, including the antebellum Excelsior Hotel and the Planters Bank and Warehouse. Every spring the Historic Jefferson Foundation sponsors the Pilgrimage Historical Home Tours. Jefferson recently relocated a1934 Texas Forest Service tower to the downtown area to provide broadband access to all wireless services including wireless Internet. Information is available from the Jefferson Visitor Center (305 E. Austin Street) by calling (903) 665-3733, or by calling The Marion County Chamber of Commerce (101 N. Polk Street) at (903) 665-2672. Tours are available from the Lone Star Carriage Company by calling (903) 926-8216; tours leave from 222 West Austin Street. Jefferson Ghost Walk Tours are available by calling (903) 665-6289.Jefferson Walking Map
Death of Diamond Bessie, 1877:
In 1877, Diamond Bessie and her husband detrained in Jefferson. They caused a great stir because they had all their teeth, matching luggage, and Bessie wore enough jewelry to open a small jewelry store. They checked into a hotel using the names Mr. and Mrs. Moore, and then spent the next two days walking around town acting like visitors and arguing. Mr. Moore called her Bessie when he wasn’t calling her other names. They were last seen together crossing a bridge and carrying a picnic lunch. The man returned from the picnic alone, and two days later left town. 12 days later Bessie’s body was found at the picnic site; she had been shot in the head. The town residents paid for her funeral. It was later discovered that they were Rothschilds. A. Rothschild, the son of a jeweler, was returned to Jefferson for trial. He was found to be guilty but high priced lawyers eventually got him off. Diamond Bessie’s gravesite is located in Oakwood CemeteryEach year a reenactment of the Diamond Bessie Murder Trial is performed in Jefferson each May.
Marion County Courthouse, 1912:
The brick courthouse was designed in Texas renaissance style by architect Elmer George Withers. The courthouse is almost identical to the Withers designed 1913 Roberts County courthouse in Miami, Texas. The 2010 Marion County census was 10,546. (903) 665-3261. 114 West Austin Street.
Marion County Courthouse (Murphy Building), 1850:
Brothers John C. Murphy and James M. Murphy constructed the building in 1850 for use as a cotton warehouse. The 1877 Diebold safe is still in use. In 1884 the Murphy building was renovated for use as the Marion County courthouse. A new county courthouse was built in 1912. In 1915, it became the Jefferson City Hall. Today it is used as the Marion County Courthouse Annex, and houses the offices of the Historic Jefferson Foundation. (903) 665-7064. 116 West Austin Street.