|History in a Pecan
Trinity County’s first county seat, Sumpter was designated such by the Texas State
Legislature around 1850. It is said to be named after the town of the same name
Eager to get the new county rolling, a post office was applied
for – and granted in late 1851, however the town itself wasn’t platted for another
four years. The town was incorporated in 1962 with the hope that after the war,
it would become a business and railroad center for the region.
war, the railroad did arrive as predicted, but bypassed the town. Those who had
gambled on the prosperity the railroad would insure – lost. The Trinity County
courthouse burned in November of 1872, and without this all-important landmark,
the rival town of Trinity became the official
county in May of 1873. Sumpter’s post office closed the following year.
got worse. The timber companies moved out having reduced the forests to an ocean
of stumps. What few farmers were in the area were discouraged and left. By the
end of 1895 there were hardly enough families to keep the school open.
In time, even the die-hard residents died out or moved, leaving a cemetery and
little else. The 1936 Centennial Marker
stands as a silent sentinel to what had once been Trinity County’s largest city.
"This is just east of Groveton.
Nothing left of Sumpter but the cemetery and this marker." - Barclay
Gibson, December 2010
of the Town of SumpterFirst
County Seat of Trinity County
Land granted in 1850
Town was laid out November
Courthouse and records were destroyed by fire,
In 1873, the county seat was removed to Trinity
of the Town of SumpterThe
legislature of the State of Texas created Trinity County out of Houston County
in 1850. A group of seven commissioners was appointed to locate and survey a site
for the seat of government. The town of Sumpter was founded in this area, near
the geographic center of the county.
Trinity County's first seat of justice
grew slowly. Early settler Solomon Adams operated a small general store, and his
log home also served as a hotel. The courthouse was a small frame building located
on the plaza, near which a log schoolhouse was erected.
When Goodwin Woodson
and R.D. Crow opened a saw and grist mill four miles south of Sumpter in 1857,
the town began to develop rapidly and was incorporated five years later. As the
population increased, a larger courthouse was built. An influx of businesses,
such as drugstores and saloons, appeared on around the courthouse square. A number
of plantations flourished in the area until the coming of the Civil War.
In 1872, the courthouse at Sumpter burned, and a rail line was built through the
town of Trinity. Sumpter was gradually abandoned,
and the nearby cemetery is all that remains of the once-thriving community.
Courthouse Fires by Bob Bowman|
Some of the most delectable historical
desserts of East Texas are found in the yellowed documents of the thirty-plus
county courthouses scattered across the pineywoods. One such morsel is the little-known
story of two courthouse fires in Trinity County, one of the rowdiest of our early
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
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