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Huntsville City

The Huntsville City Hall is located at 1212 Avenue "M", Huntsville TX 77340; phone: 936-291-5400.

Beginnings [1]

Huntsville was founded in 1835 by Pleasant and Ephraim Gray as an Indian trading post and was named for Huntsville, Alabama, former home of the Gray family. The city originally lay within the northeast section of Montgomery County, which was organized in 1837. It was designated the seat of Walker County when the county was organized in 1846. Huntsville acquired a post office on June 9, 1837, with Ephraim Gray as the first postmaster. The Grays' trading post was well situated to trade with the Bidai, Alabama and Coushatta Indians. Relations between these groups and the early settlers around Huntsville appear to have been peaceful. As trade along the Trinity River grew and as colonists arrived to exploit timber resources and rich alluvial bottomlands, Huntsville became the center of increasing activity. The 1840s and 1850s saw the arrival of a few relatively well-to-do families from the Carolinas, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, along with larger numbers of yeomen. Huntsville was also the home of many prominent early Texans, including Sam Houston.

At the end of its first decade, Huntsville also became the site of the new Texas State Penitentiary, established by the legislature in 1848. The prison received its first convict on October 1, 1849. The following year Huntsville lost out to Austin in an election to choose the state capital. The oldest continuous business in the state is the Huntsville firm of Gibbs Brothers and Company, begun as Gibbs and Coffin in 1841. According to one account, most of the manufacturing in Huntsville before the Civil War was carried on by slaves, who made shoes and other leather goods and cigars. During the war, cloth produced at the penitentiary was made into uniforms for Confederate soldiers. For transportation, early residents had access to the Trinity River through the port of Cincinnati, fifteen miles to the north, as well as stage lines. As early as 1856 Huntsville citizens planned a line called the Huntsville Railroad to connect at Cypress (Harris County) with the Houston and Texas Central Railway, but the road was never built.

  1. City of Huntsville Planning Division, Huntsville Horizon Comprehensive Plan,, accessed February 2009
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