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    JUMBO, TEXAS

    Panola County, East Texas
    Off State Highway 315
    17 Miles SW of Carthage

    Population: Unknown

    Jumbo, Texas Area Hotels > Carthage Hotels

    History in a Pecan Shell

    Cotton planters established a community here sometime before the Civil War but it wasn’t until 1888 when a post office was granted.

    James C. Brady could be considered the town “founder” since he was the primary businessman. Brady ran the community store as well as a grist mill and cotton gin.

    By the mid 1890s, Jumbo had two churches and a school – but no estimate of population. The post office closed in 1912, but it appears on the 1907 post office map.

    Jumbo’s schoolmerged with the school in Gary in the 1940s and the few residents that inhabited the area filtered into neighboring towns or left the area in search of work. By the 1990s, Jumbo was no longer seen as a community and was downgraded to a “dispersed rural community.”

    Jumbo

    by Bob Bowman

    The forgotten towns of East Texas got their names from a variety of ways--from people, places, events...even geological landmarks.

    But Jumbo, in Panola County, is the only town to be named for an elephant.

    The town was settled by cotton planters before the Civil War years, but it wasn’t until 1885 when James C. Brady established a cotton gin, a general store and a grist mill, and the community began to grow.

    In 1888, Brady secured a post office for the expanding community and the community began to think about a name.

    Remembering P.T. Barnum’s traveling circus, which made a tour in Panola and surrounding counties between 1882 and 1885, someone suggested that the community be named for one of its star attractions, Jumbo, an elephant billed by Barnum as the largest African elephant in captivity.

    In the 1800s, the circus would have traveled in East Texas on the old Houston, East and West Texas Railroad, sometimes called “Hell Either Way Taken,’ after the line was built from Houston to Shreveport in the early l880s. The tracks ran through dozens of small towns not far from the Jumbo community, such as Timpson, Tenaha, Bobo and Blair.

    Barnum, bought Jumbo from the London Zoo for $10,000, an enormous sum of money in the 1880s. Standing twelve feet high and weighing six and a half tons, Jumbo quickly became a huge attraction.

    Jumbo the Elephant at the Zoo

    Jumbo the Elephant at the Zoo
    Wikimedia Commons

    In 1888, as would-be town namers in the little community near the Panola-Rusk county line suggested names, Jumbo would have been fresh on their mind because of the circus’ visit and, more importantly, because of Jumbo’s untimely death in 1885.

    A tragic accident in Ontario, Canada, ended Jumbo’s life when an unscheduled freight train hit him while Barnum’s circus was loading in the freight yards.

    The collision derailed the freight train and 150 people were required to haul the elephant’s body up an embankment. Jumbo’s hide was given to Tufts College, stuffed and mounted, and put on display in the Barnum Museum at the college, now Tufts University.

    © Bob Bowman, 9-9-12 Column
    More Bob Bowman's East Texas
    Panola County Texas 1907 Postal Map

    1907 Panola County map showing Jumbo
    SW of Carthage near Rusk County line
    Courtesy Texas General Land Office

    Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic photos, please contact us.
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