Lamar County, Texas History and Information
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Lamar County, a History
Lamar County is in North Texas on the Oklahoma border. The county's center point is 33°40' north latitude and 95°35' west longitude. That is in the city of Paris Texas for those of us not interested in exact coordinates. :)
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 932 square miles, of which, 917 square miles is land and 15 square miles (1.68%) is water.
The first appearance of the name "Lamar County" in the congressional records of the Republic of Texas is found in the Early Laws of Texas, p. 561. It states in section one that Red River County be divided into three counties with one Representative in Congress of the Republic of Texas from each and no more.
Section three describes Lamar County as follows: Beginning at the mouth of upper Pine Creek above the Pine Hills on Red River; thence due south to Big Cypress; thence up said stream to its source; thence due west to Fannin County line; thence with that line to Red River with meanders to the place of beginning; and the same is hereby taken from the county of Red River and creates a new county to be called by the name of "Lamar."
By 1860 nine post offices had been established in Lamar County. In 1880 there were 39 in operation, and the number had increased to 51 by the turn of the century. As the United States Postal Service expanded the Rural Free Delivery system, which provided direct mail delivery for rural residents, this expansion stopped. Although RFD began in 1896, it was not until 1905 that the impact became visible in Lamar County. By 1910 the number of operating post offices had fallen to 23. Consolidation of post offices continued through the 1950s, so that by 1960 only 12 were operational.
During the middle nineteenth century, several private academies were established. Ten public school districts were in operation in 1867. In the mid-1980s Lamar County had six school districts. More than 52 percent of the residents age 25 years or more had the equivalent of a high school education in 1980, compared to only 22 percent in 1950. More than ten percent of the same population had a college degree in 1985. Education is further enhanced by Paris Junior College, where the 1990 enrollment was 2,326.
The following Independent School Districts (ISD) serve Lamar County:
Originally a part of Red River County, by 1840 growth in population created a need for a new county. Legislation was introduced by representatives from Red River County and Lamar County was established by act of the Fifth Congress of the republic on December 17, 1840, and organized by election on February 1, 1841. Originally, the county included much of what is now Delta County. In 1870, citing difficulties in traveling to the county seats of Hopkins and Lamar Counties, Delta County was formed, and Lamar County was reduced to its present size.
Named for Mirabeau B. Lamar, the fourth president of the Republic of Texas, the original county seat was Lafayette, a small settlement located several miles northwest of the site of present-day Paris. No courthouse was built there. It is not known why Lafayette did not remain the county seat. Some said it was because good water could not be gotten in wells there. Others think it was because the site was too far from the center of the county, which at that time extended through Delta county, and the law required county seats to be not more than five miles from the geographical center of a county.
Whatever the reason for the demise of Lafayette, Mount Vernon was made Lamar county seat in 1843, but again no courthouse was built. In 1844 Mr. Wright, who had purchased 1,000 acres near the settlement of Pinhook, offered to donate 50 acres to the county for a town site if the county commissioners would make it the county seat. The offer was accepted, and the new town was named Paris. The first term of the county court was held there on April 29, 1844
The Paris Fire
The Paris Fire of 1916 devastated downtown Paris, Texas. The entire downtown had to be rebuilt, including the courthouse. The Present Lamar County Courthouse was built in 1917 by Barry & Smith. It was designed in the Classical Revival style with Romanesque detail from marble and granite cleaned from the burned 1897 courthouse, the pink granite is from the same quarry as the State Capital.
The first railroad came to Lamar County in 1875, when the Texas and Pacific were built through Paris to Texarkana. In 1887 the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway was built through Ladonia to Paris, to connect with the Texas and Pacific. In 1888 the Paris and Great Northern was built from Paris to connect with the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad at the Red River. In 1909 the Paris and Mount Pleasant Railway was chartered and built; it operated between the two towns until it was discontinued in 1956. The final railroad built in Lamar County during the nineteenth century was the Texas Midland, which connected Paris and Commerce and operated until 1975.
The Kiamichi Railroad, based in Hugo Oklahoma, servers the Lamar County area to date. The Texas branch runs from Hugo, Oklahoma to Paris, Texas.
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