Before the advent of the lumber industryqv in the 1880s, the area was covered by forests of immense trees as large as fifty inches in diameter with first limbs sixty to eighty feet above the ground. Though these forests were destroyed, many areas are now reforested, and much of the county is dotted with pine and hardwood forests.
On February 11, 1850, the Texas legislature established Trinity County. Jesse James, Benjamin B. Ellis, Solomon Adams, James Marsh, Henry Ward, John Gallion, and M. Duke Hornsby were appointed "to ascertain the centre of the county, to select two sites within five miles of the center suitable for site of the County Seat, [and] to hold an election to determine which would receive the most votes."
The county's social and political geography shifted after 1872, when the Great Northern Railroad extended its tracks into the small village of Trinity, located in the southwestern part of the county. Almost immediately people began to move out of Sumpter to Trinity and Pennington, sometimes taking their homes and other buildings with them. In May 1873, a few months after the Sumpter courthouse burned with most of the county records, the town of Trinity became the seat of government for the county. The next year, after another election, Pennington became the county seat; its courthouse burned in 1876.
A new town, Groveton, appeared around the Trinity Lumber Company's mill and grew so quickly that in 1882 the county's voters chose to make it the county seat.
Despite the agricultural expansion, the closing of the mills and the onset of the Great Depressionqv had severely undermined the local economy. By the early 1930s a number of people had already moved out of Groveton, the county seat, and the town had lost some of its finest buildings to fires. The main railroads in the area stopped running, and the county had almost no paved roads aside from State Highway 94, which was completed between Groveton and Trinity in 1929. New Deal projects sponsored by the federal government did much to revive the area and to prepare it for the future, however.
Thanks to reforestation efforts, however, the lumber industry eventually revived, and by the 1960s there were two sawmills operating in the county. By the 1980s the area's timber production exceeded the yields of the timber boom of the early 1900s, and timber sales provided most of the county's revenue. Natural gas and oil were discovered in the county in 1946, but production levels remained low into the 1990s.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Flora G. Bowles, A History of Trinity County, Texas, 1827 to 1928 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1928; rpt., Groveton, Texas: Groveton Independent School District, 1966). Patricia B. and Joseph W. Hensley, eds., Trinity County Beginnings (Groveton, Texas: Trinity County Book Committee, 1986). Adele Mansell, History of Trinity County (M.A. thesis, Sam Houston State Teachers College, 1941). Trinity Historical Society, A History of Trinity (Crockett, Texas, 1984).