JASPER COUNTY. JASPER, TEXAS. Jasper, the county seat of Jasper County, is on U.S. highways 96 and 190, State Highway 63, and Sandy Creek in north central Jasper County. The site was settled around 1824 by John Bevil. Thirty families occupied the settlement as early as 1830, when it was known as Snow River or Bevil's Settlement. In 1835 it was renamed for William Jasper, a hero of the American Revolution. Jasper became the county seat in 1844 by an act of the Texas Congress. A post office was established there in 1846, and travelers reported a population growth from forty to 400 in the decade from 1848 to 1858. During the Civil War the town housed a Confederate quartermaster depot. Antebellum educational institutions included the Jasper Male and Female High School, which operated until 1878, when it became the South East Texas Male and Female College, and Jasper Collegiate Institute, which operated from 1851 until 1874 and was absorbed by the public schools in 1908. A weekly newspaper, the Jasper News-boy, has been published continuously since 1865. The population declined to 360 in 1870, reflecting the hardships of the Civil War, but by 1885 had risen to 1,000. In that year the community had three saw and grist mills, a cotton gin and planing mill operated by power from Sandy Creek, two churches, and a college; the town exported cotton, hides, and pine logs. In 1896 Jasper had a population of 1,200 and a one-teacher school with eighty-one pupils.
With the arrival of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway early in the twentieth century, Jasper grew into a center for the manufacture of timber products. Lumber from two sawmills with a daily capacity of 125,000 board feet, goods from basket and stave factories, logs, ties, poles, and pulpwood were shipped in 200 cars per month. Supplies of timber were also sent to the paper mills at Evadale. Jasper served as headquarters for the Lower Neches Valley Authority's construction program, including Dam "B" at Town Bluff and engineering and surveying for a dam at Magee Bend on the Angelina River. In 1957 the community had 185 wholesale and retail businesses, in addition to thirty manufacturing establishments and two lumber mills. It also had seven churches, an enrollment in local schools of 1,400, and three hotels. Local farmers raised broiler chickens and beef and in the 1950s turned to dairying. Jasper also became the headquarters of Morgan and Lindsey, Incorporated, variety chain stores, which at one time operated eighty-five stores in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The population grew steadily after 1925, rising from 1,500 to a high of 6,500 in 1967; the number of businesses fluctuated between seventy-five and 225. After a brief decline in 1969, in 1990 the community reached a peak of 7,267 residents and 222 businesses. By 2000 the population was 8,247 with 748 businesses. The only known soldier of the American Revolution to be buried in Texas was Jasper resident Stephen Williams, in whose honor a marker has been placed on the courthouse lawn.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Marie Smith, comp., Historically Marked Sites in Jasper County (Jasper, Texas: Jasper County Historical Commission, 1979).