AN INTRODUCTION TO PALESTINE, TEXAS

History is a fabric - a shining damask in which is woven the lives of people. Here too, are places, names and thoughts. Perhaps the most colorful and cultural of East Texas's small towns is the county seat of Anderson County--Palestine. It is eleven miles from the Trinity River, which winds its way through the red hills of East Texas. At times the river appears reddish brown and its currents run swiftly. It has been mischievous and has played havoc with the adjoining land. It has claimed cattle and crops, and then left the black alluvial soil as it retreated. The river has been kind, and because of it was born the river town of Magnolia. The little town reigned queen of the river, the only stopping point between Galveston and Dallas. Magnolia was founded about 1847, and died with the coming of the railroad in 1872. Before Palestine was established, the Fort Houston settlement, with its stockade, was the principal settlement of the area. From a fort, to a log pole store in an open field, to a town of great houses and spacious lawns, is the story of Palestine.

There was no regular schedule for the river boats, as travel on the Trinity depended upon the river's crest.... There were times when the warehouses at Magnolia were packed with up to 5000 bales of cotton waiting for the steamboat's arrival.... A trip down river to Galveston took 4 days on an average and about 6 days back up the river to Magnolia..... As late as 1890, many of the buildings at Magnolia were still in existence.... Now nothing remains of Magnolia except a few concrete pilings...The echo of the river boat whistle is no longer heard. The river runs swiftly and hums its quiet tune as it rushes past Magnolia to Galveston. The only thing afloat is a fallen branch of an ancient tree.

--Excerpts from WIND SWEPT LAND by Carl Avera, 1964, The Naylor Co.


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