Courthouse History Chambers County Historical Commission For over 150 years
Chambers County has been a
The county’s first courthouse was built in the first county seat is a group of Chambers County residents who work
of Wallisville in 1858. It was destroyed by an arsonist in to preserve, protect and promote history within significant part of Texas
December of 1875, taking with it most of the county records. the county. They meet 6 times yearly. History. It has a colorful past,
In 1886 a second courthouse was constructed with a brick jail For more information: www.cchcnews.com and is a tale worth retelling.
built nearby in 1894. The jail included a hanging tower that Take a minute to read about
was never used. Chambers County Museum at Wallisville
the rich history in your
A dispute over roaming livestock in Wallisville, known as the is a privately funded museum and archive facility. own back yard.
"County Seat Hog War," led to an election that relocated the It contains genealogy materials, and houses over
county seat to Anahuac in 1908. A 1915 hurricane almost 1,500 vertical files on pioneer families, along with
destroyed Wallisville and severely damaged the courthouse historic people and places from within the county.
and jail buildings. The 1894 jail was torn down and the 1886
courthouse was finally demolished in 1948. The Park is open Mon-Sat, 9-4 at no charge
to the public.
The county's third courthouse was completed in the new
county seat of Anahuac in 1912 and served the county until it For more information: www.wallisville.net
burned down on April 28, 1935. 409-389-2252
The fourth and current This is a publication of the Chambers County Library
courthouse was built in System. The library collections contain additional
1936 designed by Houston material on Chambers County history, and other
architect Corneil G. Curtis, matters of local interest. We invite you to visit and
who also designed the 1931
Liberty County courthouse. make use of this tax supported institution.
The 1936 courthouse has
many examples of Art-Deco For more information about your local library:
ornamentation and retains most of its original exterior and Chambers County Library, Anahuac: 409-267-2554
interior appearance. Juanita Hargraves Memorial Branch, Winnie:
The Texas Historical Commission website contains 409-296-8245
information on the following: Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch,
Historic County Courthouses Mont Belvieu: 281-576-2245
National Register Properties www.chambers.lib.tx.us
State Antiquities Landmarks (Buildings only)
Search by county at:
General Thomas Early Settlers of The Early
Jefferson Chambers Chambers County Years
Thomas Jefferson Chambers James and Ruthie Miller Theodore & Charles Dorsett Chambers County was initially home
Shadrack Burney and Charles C.P. Welch to the Akokisa, Bidai and Atakapan
(1802-1865), an accomplished Joseph Lawrence James Allen people. The earliest European
James Hanney Benjamin Barrow settlement in this part of the state
lawyer, land speculator, army William Bloodgood James Taylor White Chambers County Courthouse, circa 1912 was “El Orcoquisac,” a Spanish
Christian Smith Silas Smith outpost established in 1756 to keep
general and politician in Texas, John Iiams Charles Willcox French traders out of the region. This consisted of a mission,
E.H.R. and Sarah (Barrow) William Barret Travis Nuestra Senora de la Luz, and Presidio San Agustin de Ahumada.
served under the rule of Mexico, Wallis Andrew Briscoe The outpost was abandoned in 1771.
Solomon and Elizabeth Patrick C. Jack
the Republic, the Union and the (Winfree) Barrow John M. Smith The first Anglo settlers came in the early 1820s, and the Mexican
Reuben Barrow, Jr. Robert Wiseman military established Fort Anahuac in 1831 with Colonel Juan Davis
Confederacy. Born in Virginia, he Absalom Jesse (A.B.J.) Henry & Amelia (Barrow) Bradburn assigned to that command. After Bradburn imprisoned
Winfree local attorneys William Barret Travis and Patrick C. Jack in 1832,
Photo courtesy of moved to Mexico City in 1826. In William Henry Hodges Griffith other colonists came to the fort to demand their release. This led to
Chambers County 1829 he was appointed the a brief skirmish in the summer of 1832 known as the Battle of
surveyor general of Texas. Through Anahuac, the eventual release of the prisoners, and the transfer of
Historical Commission purchase and land grants, Bradburn. Travis came back three years later, in 1835, and took
the fort in a second brief battle. Travis gained immortality on March
Chambers obtained title to 16 6, 1836 when he fell at the Alamo, at which place he served as
commander of the Texian garrison there.
leagues of land located in present day Ellis, Navarro,
In January 1835 Capt. Antonio Tenorio arrived with about forty
Chambers and Hays counties. In 1830, Chambers troops to reopen the fort, but it was in such disrepair that he asked
his superiors for wood to make repairs. The wood arrived in May
received Mexican citizenship and license to practice but was burned by irate Texans. Tenorio had no artillery when
Travis and his volunteers attacked on June 29, so his troops fled
law. He was state assessor briefly in 1834 and into the woods. He capitulated the next day, and the small garrison
sailed to Harrisburg and retreated to Bexar.
authored the Chambers Jury Law which brought jury
trial to Texas. Also in 1834, he became the Chief
Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas. In payment for Towns, Communities, and Settlements
this office, Chambers was granted thirteen leagues of
land which he selected from the site of present day
Austin. During the Texas Revolution, Chambers Towns within Chambers County in
order of establishment:
received a commission to raise the Army of the
Reserve on his own credit and was reimbursed with
1,280 acres of land in 1846. He entered and lost four Wallisville Hankamer
political elections between 1839 and 1861. These
years also brought the loss of much of his land due to Anahuac Mont Belvieu (Barber’s Hill) Fort Anahuac was never used again; the land became private
property. In 1938 the county surveyor made field notes of the
lawsuits in 1855 and 1862. In 1861 he represented existing foundations. Erosion caused by rechanneling the Trinity
River sometime after the 1930s caused the remains of the
Chambers County at the state secession convention. Beach City Old River-Winfree southwestern redoubt to fall into the water. Chambers County
acquired the site for a park in 1946, and officials ordered it cleared
As a volunteer aid to an officer in Hood's Texas and the rubble buried for safety
reasons and to prevent vandalism.
Brigade, Chambers was wounded during the Seven Cove Smith Point An amateur excavation was made in
1968 before preservation laws went
Days' Battles. In 1865, Chambers was shot and killed into effect, but no in-depth
archeological study was attempted
by an unknown assassin at his home in Anahuac while Double Bayou Winnie-Stowell until 2001, when the county
government asked the Texas
holding his daughter Kate on his lap. Historical Commission to survey the
park to find the fort’s exact location.
The state of Texas failed to reimburse Chambers or his Several communities and settlements were About half of the fort was located,
estate for large tracts of Austin land condemned in established over the past several decades. Some of and recommendations made, but no
1839 to establish the capital. This fact led to a long these communities exist today, while others no further work has been done to date.
series of legal contests by Chambers' heirs who longer exist. They include:
eventually won monetary compensation by an act of
Acom, Bancroft, Black Branch, Cedar Bayou, Cedar
the Texas legislature in 1925. Point, Dellyville, Eagle, Eminence, Glen, Graydon,
Harmon, Lake Charlotte, Lone Oak, Monroe City,
"Thomas Jefferson Chambers Papers Manuscript Collection: Morgan’s Settlement, New Boston, Oak Island,
MC018."Thomas Jefferson Chambers Papers Manuscript Collection: Round Point, Seabreeze, Straddle, Thornton, and
MC018. University of Texas at Austin, n.d. Web. 26 June 2015. Turtle Bayou.