Marshall, Texas

From Academic Kids

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The Old Harrison County Courthouse in Whetstone Square is the centerpiece of the "Wonderland of Lights," one of the largest light festivals in the U.S., with 10 million bulbs.

Marshall is a city in the U.S. state of Texas, located near the Louisiana and Arkansas borders in the Ark-La-Tex region. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 23,935. It is the county seat of Harrison CountyTemplate:GR.

Marshall is a major cultural and educational center in Northeast Texas. The city is known for its Civil War, railroad, and civil rights movement history, for holding one of the largest light festivals in the United States, the Wonderland of Lights, and, as the self-proclaimed Pottery Capital of the World, for its sizable pottery industry. It is also known variously as the Cultural Capital of East Texas, the Gateway of Texas, the Athens of Texas, and the City of Seven Flags.



19th Century

The Republic of Texas and the Civil War

The city was founded in 1841 as the seat of Harrison County, after repeated failed attempts to establish a county seat on the Sabine River since the county was established in 1839. The Republic of Texas decided to choose the site of land granted by Peter Whetstone and Isaac Van Zandt after Whetstone had proven that the hilly location had a good water source. The city quickly became a major city in the state because of its position as a gateway to Texas on several major stage coach lines. The city's growing importance was confirmed when Marshall was linked by a telegraph line to New Orleans, becoming the first city in Texas to have a telegraph service.

By 1860 the city was the fourth largest city in Texas and the seat of the richest county. The county had more slaves than any other in the state, making it a hotbed of anti-Union sentiment. When Gov. Sam Houston refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, Marshall's Edward Clark was sworn in as governor. Marshall would also produce Texas' third Confederate governor, Pendleton Murrah. Marshall became a major Confederate city, becoming the capital of Missouri's Confederate government-in-exile, producing gunpowder and other supplies for the Confederate Army, and hosting three conferences of Trans-Mississippi and Indian Territory leaders.

Marshall became the seat of civil authority and headquarters of the Trans-Mississippi Postal Department after the fall of Vicksburg. The city may have been the intended target of a failed Union advance that was rebuffed at Mansfield, Louisiana. Towards the end of the Civil War Richmond had $9 million in Treasury notes and $3 million in postage stamps shipped to Marshall, possibly meaning that Marshall was the intended destination of a government preparing to flee from advancing armies.

Reconstruction and the Railroad Era

Many African-Americans came to Marshall during ; but the establishment of the White Citizens Party after the Union troops departed kept many former  locked into poverty.  A former slave displays a horn formerly used to call slaves on the outskirts of Marshall in .
Many African-Americans came to Marshall during Reconstruction; but the establishment of the White Citizens Party after the Union troops departed kept many former slaves locked into poverty. A former slave displays a horn formerly used to call slaves on the outskirts of Marshall in 1939.

Marshall was occupied by Union forces on June 17, 1865. During Reconstruction the city was home to an office of the Freedmen's Bureau and was the base for Union troops. In 1873 The Methodist Episcopal Church founded Wiley College to educate free men. African-Americans came to the city seeking opportunities and protection until 1878, when the Citizens Party, led by former Confederate General Walter P. Lane and his brother George, took control of the city and county governments and ran Unionists, Republicans and many African-Americans out of town. The Lanes ultimately declared Marshall and Harrison County "redeemed" from Union and African-American control. Despite this the African-American community would continue to progress with the establishment of Bishop College in 1881 and the certification of Wiley by the Freedman's Aid Society in 1882.

Marshall's "Railroad Era" began in the early 1870s. Harrison County citizens voted to offer $300,000 bond subsidy, and the City of Marshall offered to donate land north of the downtown to the Texas and Pacific Railroad if the company would move to Marshall. T&P President Jay Gould accepted and located the T&P's workshops and general offices for Texas in Marshall. The city benefited immediately from a population explosion. By 1880 the city was one of the South's largest cotton markets. The city's new prosperity became apparent when the first department store in Texas, J. Weisman and Co., opened in 1878. During this period of wealth many of the city's now historic homes were constructed. The city's most prominent industry, pottery manufacturing, began with the establishment of Marshall Pottery in 1895.

Despite the prosperity of the railroad era, poverty continued to be a problem in the city among all races, but tensions between whites and African-Americans continued to worsen as segregation crystallized in the city. The rural areas of Harrison County saw greater interaction between white people and African-Americans. There, whites and blacks being neighbors was commonplace. Even though the areas surrounding Marshall were somewhat integrated, racism certainly was still apparent in everyday life. The fact that several plantation owners divided up sizable tracts of land and gave them to their former slaves may also have contributed to these tensions.

20th Century

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries children of both races were raised to accept the status quo of racial segregation. African-American Marshall resident George Dawson later wrote about his childhood experiences with segregation in his book Life Is So Good. He described how, despite African-American children's acceptance of segregation, in some instances its demands were too outrageous to follow. For example, Dawson described how he had refused the demand of one employer who expected him to eat with her dogs.

In 1949, Marshall banned the movie Pinky from the city because it portrayed an interracial couple, a violation of the city's censorship code. The city was sued and the case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned the city's censorship law.

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The community has developed in and around Whetstone Square, shown here in 1939. Guests lodged in the Capitol Hotel, right, and the taller Hotel Marshall directly behind it. In the 1960s the Harrison County Courthouse, center, hosted the first sit-ins in Texas.

Three graduates of Wiley College, inspired by the teachings of Wiley professor Melvin B. Tolson, helped to dismantle Jim Crow at the county, state, and national levels. Fred Lewis, as the secretary of the Harrison County NAACP, challenged the oldest White Citizens Party in the Texas and the Jim Crow laws it enforced, ultimately abolishing Jim Crow in the county with the Perry v. Cyphers verdict. Heman Sweatt tried to enroll in the University of Texas Law school, but was denied entry because of the color of his skin; he sued and the Texas Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of postgraduate studies in Texas in the Sweatt v. Painter decision. James L. Farmer, Jr. became an organizer of the Freedom Rides and a founder of the Congress of Racial Equality.

The progression of civil rights would continue into the 1960s, 70s and 80s. In the 1960s, students organized the first sit-ins in Texas in the rotunda of the county courthouse on Whetstone Square in a move to end segregation of public schools; in 1970, all Marshall public schools were integrated. Also in that year, Carolyn Abney became the first woman to be elected to the city commission. In April 1975 local businessman Sam Birmingham became the first African-American to be elected to the city commission and, in the 80s, Marshall's first African-American mayor. Birmingham retired in 1989 for health concerns, and was succeeded by his wife, Jean Birmingham, who became the first African-American woman to serve on the commission.

During the first half of the 20th century, the Texas & Pacific Railroad experienced its height under the leadership of John L. Lancaster. Marshall's industry picked up with the discovery of what was then the largest oil field in the world at nearby Kilgore in 1930. Marshall's railroad industry subsequently declined with the dieselization of most trains, the proliferation of air travel, and the construction of the Interstate highway system after World War II. The T&P Shops closed in the 1960s and T&P passenger service ceased in 1970. The Texas oil bust of the 1980s devastated the local economy and the city's population declined by about a thousand between 1980 and 1990.

Law and government

The City of Marshall has a Council-manager form of municipal government, with all governmental powers resting in a legislative body called a Commission. The Commission passes all city laws and ordinances, adopts budgets, determines city policy, and appoints city officials, including the City Manager. The city manager, rather than a mayor, serves as the executive of the city government and thus is in charge of enforcing city laws and administering the city's various departments.

The City Commission

The City Commission has seven members, each elected to serve a single member district. These seven districts are divided into odd numbers, which divide the city into four districts, and even numbered districts which divide the city into three districts which overlap the odd districts. Each Commissioner is elected to a two-year term. The districts 1,2,3,4 hold elections in odd years and districts 5,6,7 in even years, thus an election for all city citizens in Spring of each year. After each election the city Commission selects a Commissioner to serve as Chairman of the Commission, generically called a Mayor, until after the election next year. The City Commission meets twice a month on the second and fourth Thursdays, in addition to any special sessions that are called. The Commission provides for a public forum before each regular session. The Commission meetings are broadcast on radio and a public access television station.

Commission Members

District 2004 Commission 1999 Commission
District 1 Katie Jones Jean Birmingham
District 2 Alonza Williams Alonza Williams
District 3 Ed Carlile Chris Horsely
District 4 Jack Hester Audrey Kariel (Mayor)
District 5 John Wilborn John Wilborn
District 6 Bryan Partee Chris Smith
District 7 Ed Smith (Mayor) Martha Robb

City Administration

District City Manager Asst. City Manager
2004 Frank Johnson Janet Cook
1999 Tony Williams Frank Johnson


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Location of Marshall, Texas

Marshall is located at 32°32'34" North, 94°21'49" West (32.542897, -94.363727)Template:GR or roughly 150 miles east of Dallas, Texas and 40 miles west of Shreveport, Louisiana. The intersection of US 80 and US 59 and the intersection of US 59 and Interstate 20 are located within the city limits of Marshall. It is the first city of any size encountered when driving west into Texas from Louisiana on I-20.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 76.8 km² (29.6 sq . mi.). 76.6 km² (29.6 sq. mi.) of it is land and 0.2 km² (0.1 sq. mi.) of it is water. The total area is 0.27% water.

City layout

The city is bisected along a north-south axis by East End Blvd. (US 59). The eastern half of the city is bisected along an east-west axis by US 80 which east of its intersection with US 59 is called Victory Drive and west of US 59 is named Grand Ave. The Harrison County Airport and Airport Baseball Park are located to the south of Victory Dr. off of Harper Dr.

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Maplecroft the centerpiece of the Starr Family Home State Historic Site in downtown.

To the west of US 59, south of Pinecrest Dr. are older suburbs; north of Pinecrest Dr. the oldest portion of the city stretches northward over seven hills. This portion of the city radiates out from downtown which is centered on the Old Harrison County Courthouse in Peter Whetstone Square. Immediately to the north of the square is the Ginocchio National Historic District where the city's Amtrak Terminal is located. This region of the city is bisected along an east-west by Grand Ave. (US 80). Spreading out from downtown is a belt of Antebellum and Victorian homes centered on Rusk and Houston Streets.

To the west of downtown are some of the oldest African-American neighborhoods in Texas, centered around Wiley College. To the north of Grand Ave. (US 80) are neighborhoods that were built largely by employees of the Texas & Pacific Railroad. In addition to the Ginocchio National Historic District, this part of the city is home to East Texas Baptist University and three historic cemeteries: Marshall Cemetery, Powder Mill Cemetery, and Greenwood, which is divided into Christian and Jewish sections.


Marshall's economy is diversified and includes services such as Insurance claims processing at Blue Cross & Blue Shield, education at several institutes of higher learning, manufacturing such as wood kitchen cabinets at Republic Industries and pottery at several manufacturers. Black & Decker and Honeywell both maintain a small presence in the Marshall Business Park. Tourism is also an important industry with about one million tourists visiting the city each year.

Marshall has a local sales tax of 2.0%. The Marshall Economic Development Corporation or MEDCO lobbies companies to locate in Marshall and offers incentives to businesses that do. The Greater Marshall Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of local businesses to local, state, and national leaders.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 23,935 people, 8,730 households, and 6,032 families residing in the city. The population density is 312.5/km² (809.5/mi²). There are 9,923 housing units at an average density of 129.6/km² (335.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 54.66% White, 38.59% African American, 0.39% Native American, 0.55% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 4.83% from other races, and 0.94% from two or more races. 8.64% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. The Asian population is mostly Indians from Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, or Maharashtra and Chinese from Hong Kong and Fuzhou.

There are 8,730 households out of which 32.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.4% are married couples living together, 19.0% have a female householder with no husband present, and 30.9% are non-families. 28.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 14.0% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.55 and the average family size is 3.12.

In the city the population is spread out with 26.1% under the age of 18, 13.4% from 18 to 24, 24.6% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 15.5% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 87.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 82.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $30,335, and the median income for a family is $37,438. Males have a median income of $30,146 versus $21,027 for females. The per capita income for the city is $15,491. 22.8% of the population and 17.8% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 32.5% of those under the age of 18 and 15.1% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Sites of interest

The Michelson Museum of Art rotates through its collection of over 1000 works of  including this Bridge in Venice along with a collection of African masks and other works.
The Michelson Museum of Art rotates through its collection of over 1000 works of Leo Michelson including this Bridge in Venice along with a collection of African masks and other works.
  • Arnot House, 306 W. Houston St
  • First Methodist Church, 300 E. Houston St., constructed before the Civil War
  • Fry-Barry House, 314 W. Austin
  • Ginocchio National Historic District
  • Hagerty House, 505 E. Rusk St
  • Hochwald House, 211 W. Grand Ave.
  • Hotel Marshall, 210 W. Houston
  • John R. Stinson House, 313 W. Austin St
  • James Turner House, 406 Washington Ave
  • Magnolia Hall, 303 N Columbus St, historic home, now coffee house
  • Old Pierce House, 303 N. Columbus St
  • Sam B. Hall Federal Courthouse, S. Washington at Whetstone Square
  • Starr Family Home State Historic Site, 407 W. Travis St, centerpiece of Starr Family State Historic Site
  • Marshall Hall, 1209 N. Grove St, historic administration building of ETBU
  • Michelson Museum of Art, 216 N. Bolivar Street
  • Old Harrison County Courthouse, Whetstone Square, historic courthouse; location of first sit-ins in Texas
  • Weisman Center, 211 N. Washington St, first department store in Texas
  • Weisman-Hirsch House, 313 S. Washington St
  • Wiley Bell Tower, Wiley College Campus

Colleges and universities

Notable natives, citizens, and associated people

Marshall Senior High School graduate ,  's wife, helped convince Texas to plant wildflowers on state highways.
Marshall Senior High School graduate Lady Bird Johnson, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson's wife, helped convince Texas to plant wildflowers on state highways.

Miscellaneous trivia

Notable facts not mentioned in the article text.

External links




  • Berglund, Ernest. (1948) History of Marshall (1st ed.) Unknown Printer(s). ISBN unknown
  • Lale, Max S. (1991). Coming Home Souvenir Program 150th Birthday Celebration (1st ed.) Unknown Local Printer(s). ISBN 1-879703-01-7
  • The Handbook of Texas Online (

Further reading

  • Marshall News Messenger (2001), A Pictorial History of Marshall, Texas and Harrison County (1st ed.), Heritage House, ISBN unknown

ar:مارشال (تكساس) de:Marshall (Texas) el:Marshall es:Marshall, Tejas fr:Marshall it:Marshall nl:Marshall, Texas no:Marshall, Texas pt:Marshall ru:Marshall, Texas

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See also: List of Texas counties


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