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Jefferson, Texas

Jefferson, Texas
The Old Post Office, Jefferson's most recognized landmark Downtown Jefferson, Texas
The Old Post Office, Jefferson's most recognized landmark Downtown Jefferson, Texas
Location of Jefferson, Texas
Location of Jefferson, Texas
Map of the city in 1872
Map of the city in 1872
Country United States
State Texas
County Marion
 • Total 4.4 sq mi (11.4 km2)
 • Land 4.3 sq mi (11.3 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.2 km2)
Elevation 194 ft (59 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 2,024
 • Density 465.7/sq mi (179.8/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 75657
Area code(s) 903
FIPS code 48-37528[1]
GNIS feature ID 1338692[2]
Website City of Jefferson

Jefferson is a historic city in Marion County in northeastern Texas, United States.[3][4][5] The population was 2,024 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Marion County, Texas,[6] and is situated in East Texas. The city is a tourism center, with popular attractions including: Jay Gould's Railroad car, the Sterne Fountain, Jefferson Carnegie Library, Excelsior House, the House of the Four Seasons, and the bayous formed by Big Cypress Bayou located in and around the city.


  • Events 1
  • Historical notes 2
  • Geography 3
  • Climate 4
  • Demographics 5
  • Education 6
  • School sports records 7
  • Notable people 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12


Tourism in Jefferson is enhanced by a number of events that are held throughout the year. Major annual events include:

  • Mardi Gras Upriver
  • By the Light of the Moon--Shakespeare Under the Stars
  • Diamond Don's Vintage Motocross
  • Historical Pilgrimage
  • Jefferson Civil War Days
  • The Great Locomotive Chase and Naval Battle of Port Jefferson
  • The Battle for Jefferson
  • Corvette Car Show
  • Texas Sounds International Country Music Awards(Facebook page)

Historical notes

Almost every commercial building and house on the main arterial road in Jefferson has a historic marker.[7]

The Sterne Fountain was given to the city in 1913 to honor the contribution of Jacob and Ernestine Sterne, a Jewish couple who settled in Jefferson before the Civil War and became prominent citizens who managed the post office and were involved in numerous civic and cultural projects. The fountain includes a statue of Hebe, the Greek goddess of Youth, by Giuseppe Moretti.[8]

Early records indicate that Jefferson was founded around 1841 on land ceded from the Caddo Indians. At that time, a log jam more than 100 miles long existed on the Red River north of present Natchitoches, Louisiana. The Indians said that this log jam, known as the Great Red River Raft, had always existed.

The Red River Raft (or Great Raft) acted as a dam on the river and raised the level of Caddo Lake and the Red River several feet. This rise of Caddo Lake and the corresponding rise in the Big Cypress Bayou at Jefferson permitted commercial riverboat travel to Jefferson from ports such as St. Louis and New Orleans via the Mississippi and Red Rivers.

Jefferson was one of the most important ports in Texas between 1845 and 1872. The town reached its peak population just a few years after the Civil War and is reported to have exceeded 30,000. During this time, Jefferson was the sixth largest town in Texas.

There were attempts over the years to remove the raft and permit the normal flow of the Red River, but these attempts were unsuccessful until the discovery of nitroglycerin. In 1873, using nitroglycerin, the Army Corps of Engineers was finally able to clear the raft from the Red River. This lowered the level of Caddo Lake and Big Cypress to the extent that riverboat traffic to Jefferson was no longer commercially feasible. At the peak of river traffic Jefferson had a population of over 7,000. A few years later, it had dropped to a little over 3,000.

One of the legends surrounding Jefferson involved Jay Gould, the railroad magnate. The legend goes that Gould wanted to bring his railroad through Jefferson but the town leaders refused because they had the river traffic. Gould responded by saying that grass would grow in the streets without the railroad. Gould is even given credit for supporting the removal of the Red River Raft and the subsequent decline of Jefferson as a river port. Much of this tale is fiction, but it makes a good tale. Townspeople obtained Gould's railcar and it is displayed as a tourist attraction in downtown Jefferson.[9]

Jefferson, since 2000, has been the location for the Pulpwood Queens Book Club Girlfriend Weekend's annual conference, attracting authors from all around the country.[10]


Jefferson is located at (32.761013, -94.349331).[11]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.4 square miles (11 km2), of which, 4.3 square miles (11 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (1.58%) is water.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Jefferson has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[12]


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 2,024 people, 871 households, and 544 families residing in the city. The population density was 465.7 people per square mile (179.6/km²). There were 1,042 housing units at an average density of 239.7 per square mile (92.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 62.80% White, 34.68% African American, 0.40% Native American, 0.84% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.54% from other races, and 0.69% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.63% of the population.

There were 871 households out of which 23.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.7% were married couples living together, 17.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.5% were non-families. 34.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 6.8% from 18 to 24, 21.8% from 25 to 44, 24.9% from 45 to 64, and 24.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 80.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 76.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $17,034, and the median income for a family was $26,250. Males had a median income of $28,929 versus $14,583 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,558. About 29.4% of families and 32.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 54.1% of those under age 18 and 22.7% of those age 65 or over.


The City of Jefferson is served by the Jefferson Independent School District.

School sports records

  • 1986: Jefferson High School - AAA Football State Championship with 16-0 record.
  • 1980-81: Jefferson High School - Eric Robinson, State 110 m. High Hurdle Champion (13.3 - Nationally ranked)

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder".  
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  3. ^ Morphis, J. M. (1874). History of Texas From Its Discovery and Settlement. New York: United States Publishing Company. pp. 504–507. Retrieved 2009-07-27.  Includes a c. 1874 description as well as information on the Potter/Rose feud.
  4. ^ Spaight, A. W. (1882). The Resources, Soil, and Climate of Texas: Report of The Commissioner of Insurance, Statistics, and History.   Includes a c. 1882 description of Jefferson and environs.
  5. ^ King, Edward (1875). The Great South. Hartford, Conn: American Publishing Company. p. 124. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  7. ^ Shey, Brittanie. "Oprah of the Piney Woods." Houston Press. Wednesday, October 12 2011. 2. Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
  8. ^ Texas State Historical Commission. "Sterne Fountain Historical Marker". 
  9. ^ Jefferson,Riverport to the Southwest Fred Tarpley copyright 1983.
  10. ^ , "Fake Fur, Big Hair and La Vie Littéraire," February 16, 2010Texas Observer
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  12. ^ Climate Summary for Jefferson, Texas
  13. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Henderson, William Kennon".  

Further reading

  • Bagur, Jacques D. Antebellum Jefferson, Texas: Everyday Life in an East Texas Town (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2012). 612 pp.

External links

  • Marion County Chamber of Commerce for visitor information
  • Official Tourism Site for Jefferson, TX
  • Article on Jefferson, Texas at the Handbook of Texas online.
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