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ALMOST A HOUSTON
Town Bluff
and Fort Houston

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman
Not that many us living here care, but the city of Houston was almost established in East Texas -- not once, but twice.

When brothers J.K. and A.C. Allen, who founded Houston, purchased land in 1837 on Buffalo Bayou in what is now Harris County, they also purchased 640 acres at Town Bluff on the Neches River, a location they considered as promising as the one on Buffalo Bayou.

But it wasnıt in the cards for Town Bluff to become a metropolis. Instead, it became a ghost town.

Wyatt Hanks, a San Augustine merchant, saw the need for a crossing on the Neches in 1833 and moved to Tyler County to establish a ferry. A cluster of homes and businesses sprouted around the crossing. Hanks sold hundreds of lots in the new town, which he often called "Natchez on the Neches." Hanks' town attracted a number of prominent businessmen, including J.K. and A.C. Allen, who were looking for sites to build a new town.

Town Bluff twice came close to being Tyler Countyıs seat of government, once in 1834 when it was named temporary seat of the Republic of Texas' Menard District for judicial affairs, but the district was declared unconstitutional by the Republic's Supreme Court.

A second crack at prominence came in the 1840s when Texas was admitted to the United States and the Texas Legislature created Tyler County. Three sites -- Town Bluff, a second site on Wolf Creek, and a third on Turkey Creek -- were considered county seat candidates. Voters selected the Turkey Creek site and named it Woodville.

Town Bluff died when Woodville grew, but began to attract new residents when Dam B Reservoir (Steinhagen Lake) was built.

A second aborted effort to establish Houston in East Texas > Fort Houston - next page

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