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Area History

Livingston History In a Nutshell

  • In 1835, Moses L. Choate, a native of Livingston, Tennessee, started a settlement which he first named “Springfield”.
  • Polk County was formed from Liberty County in 1846.
  • Moses Choate donated 100 acres for the county seat and town on the condition that it would be renamed “Livingston” in honor of his hometown.
  • Population of 135 in 1880.
  • Began as an agricultural community with the main crops being corn and cotton.
  • The construction of the Houston East and West Railroad in 1880 spurred rapid growth. The Livingston and Southeastern Railway and the Beaumont Great Northern Railroad connected Livingston to markets everywhere.
  • The railroad encouraged the growth of sawmills in and around the county seat.
  • By 1900 the population reached 1024.
  • A major fire occurred in 1902 caused by a feud between wet and dry proponents. Most of the town between Abbey and Polk Street was destroyed. Only the courthouse and few businesses survived.
  • Livingston was incorporated in 1902 and the process of rebuilding began, helped by the establishment of a brick factory soon afterwards.
  • Telephones arrived in 1903 with 40 telephones in service.
  • Electricity changed the town beginning in 1905. Fifteen homes were wired for lights which only worked at night. By 1910 businesses were installing electric fans and household appliances were becoming more common, so power was increased to include daylight hours as well.
  • There have been five courthouses through the years. The first was a one-room log cabin. Each subsequent courthouse was larger and more elaborate. The current courthouse was built in 1923 and has been renovated as the County’s needs change. The newest addition is the Judicial Center located south of the courthouse square.
  • The first school was a free academy financed by the Trinity Lodge #14, A.M. & F.M. in 1849. This school continued to operate until the late 1800’s.
  • In 1888 the board of the Public Free Schools of Livingston built a large two-story building on Jackson Avenue. Twenty years later, Livingston saw its first graduating class of three students.
  • 1910 brought the construction of a modern school with electrical services, a heating plant in the basement, nine classrooms, an auditorium and a library.
  • Early businesses in town included general stores, a livery and feed stable, brick factory, cotton gin, hotel, sawmills and blacksmiths.
  • In 1917 State Highway 35 (now U. S. 59) was constructed and became a major transportation artery through the town.
  • In 1932 oil was discovered about 10 miles south of the town. By 1936 there were ninety-three producing wells. The town extended its city limits at this time.
  • The economy continued to be based on agriculture, lumber and oil until the late 1960’s when tourism was added.
  • Lake Livingston Reservoir was built in 1968 to provide water storage and flood control on the Trinity River. Since that time, the lake has provided economic opportunities and a recreational destination for tourists interested in fishing, camping and boating.

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Trade Days in March

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Posted Date: 03/01/2021

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