Harrison County, Texas

Harrison County is a county on the eastern border of the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2020 United States census, its population was 68,839.[2] The county seat is Marshall.[3] The county was created in 1839 and organized in 1842.[4][5] It is named for Jonas Harrison, a lawyer and Texas revolutionary.

Harrison County
Harrison County Courthouse in Marshall
Harrison County Courthouse in Marshall
Map of Texas highlighting Harrison County
Location within the U.S. state of Texas
Map of the United States highlighting Texas
Texas's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 32°33′N 94°22′W / 32.55°N 94.37°W / 32.55; -94.37
Country United States
State Texas
Named forJonas Harrison[1]
Largest cityMarshall
 • Total916 sq mi (2,370 km2)
 • Land900 sq mi (2,000 km2)
 • Water16 sq mi (40 km2)  1.7%
 • Total68,839
 • Density75/sq mi (29/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district1st

Developed for cotton plantations by planters from the South, this county had the highest number of enslaved African Americans in Texas before the Civil War. They comprised 59% of the population. From 1870 to 1930, Blacks made up 60% of the county's population. In the post-Reconstruction era, whites used lynchings to assert their dominance, in addition to the state's disenfranchisement of Blacks.

From 1940 to 1970, in the second wave of the Great Migration, many Blacks moved to the West Coast to escape Jim Crow and for work in the expanding defense industry. More whites have moved in since the late 20th century as the county's economy has developed beyond the rural, and now comprise the majority.

Harrison County comprises the Marshall micropolitan statistical area, which is also included in the Longview-Marshall combined statistical area. It is located in the Ark-La-Tex region.


Old Harrison County Courthouse in Marshall lit at Christmas, 2005

Early history


Settlement by immigrants from the United States (US) began during the 1830s in the territory of present-day Harrison County. In 1835, the Mexican authorities granted a dozen land grants to U.S. immigrants. After the Texas Revolution, the Congress of the Texas Republic established Harrison County in 1839, formed from Shelby County. Harrison County was named for Texas revolutionary Jonas Harrison. The county was organized in 1842.

The county's area was reduced in 1846, as territory was taken to establish Panola and Upshur counties. Marshall was founded in 1841, and was designated as the county seat in 1842.[1]

The area was settled predominately by planters from the Southern United States, who developed this area for cotton plantations and brought enslaved African Americans with them for labor, or purchased them at regional markets. The planters repeated much of their culture and society here. East Texas was the location of most of the cotton plantations in the state and, correspondingly, of most of the enslaved African Americans.

Most of the fourteen Black-majority, plantation counties were located in East Texas. By 1850, landowners in Harrison County held more slaves than in any other county in Texas until the end of the Civil War. The census of 1860 counted 8,746 slaves in Harrison County, 59% of the county's total population.[1]

In 1861, the county's voters (who were exclusively white males and mostly upper class) overwhelmingly supported secession from the United States.

Reconstruction era to present


Following defeat at the end of the American Civil War, the county was part of an area occupied by Federal troops under Reconstruction. The white minority in the county bitterly resented federal authority and the constitutional amendment granting the franchise to freedmen. A majority in the county, the freedmen elected a bi-racial county government dominated by Republican Party officeholders.

Republican dominance in local offices continued in the county until 1880, but the conservative whites of the Democratic Party regained control of the state government before the official end of Reconstruction. In 1880, the Citizen's Party of Harrison County, amid charges of fraud and coercion, gained control of elected positions in the county government after winning on a technicality, which involved hiding a key ballot box.[1] They retained such control of the county into the 1950s, aided by the state's disenfranchisement of Blacks at the turn of the century by a variety of laws, including those to permit white primaries.[6] In addition, during the post-Reconstruction era, white terrorist violence was directed at Blacks to assert white supremacy. According to records of the Equal Justice Initiative, Harrison County had the third-highest number of lynchings of any county in Texas, from 1877 to 1950.

In the 1870s the county's non-agricultural sector increased when the Texas and Pacific Railway located its headquarters and shops in Marshall. It stimulated other industry and manufacturing in the county, and also aided the transportation to market of the important cotton commodity crop.[1]

But from 1880 to 1930, Harrison County remained primarily agricultural and rural. It had a 60 percent Black majority through 1930. During this period, most of the African Americans worked in agriculture as tenant farmers and sharecroppers.

Harrison County had a total of 14 lynchings.[7] Most were committed in the early 20th century, particularly in the 1910s when the county suffered economic hard times. Whites "did not lynch in lieu of ineffective courts, but instead demonstrated to the black majority that legal protection and rights were inaccessible to blacks".[8] Blacks accused of violence against law enforcement or who were from outside the county were particularly at risk, but the terrorist lynchings put all Blacks on notice that whites could take action against them essentially at will.

The Texas legislature disenfranchised most Blacks in 1901 by requiring poll taxes and authorizing white primaries (after various iterations, the latter were overturned by a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1944). This disenfranchisement extended into the late 1960s, until after national civil rights legislation was passed to enforce these citizens' constitutional civil rights.[9]

In 1928, oil was discovered in the county. Its exploitation and processing made a significant contribution to the economy.[1]

The Great Depression of the 1930s hit the county hard, decimating the agricultural sector. Mobilization for World War II brought an end to the depression. As the defense industry built up in major cities and on the West Coast, from 1940 to 1970, a total of more than 4.5 million Blacks migrated from the South, particularly Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, for work and to escape continuing suppression under Jim Crow laws. They moved to the West Coast in the second wave of the Great Migration, attracted to new jobs in the expanding defense industry.

The population of the county declined until 1980, when the trend reversed. White migration from other areas has resulted in a majority-white population. In the realignment of parties in the South since the late 20th century, white conservative voters in Texas have left the Democratic Party to become overwhelmingly affiliated with the Republican Party.[1]



According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 916 square miles (2,370 km2), of which 900 square miles (2,300 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2) (1.7%) is water.[10] The northern and eastern parts of the county are drained to the Red River in Louisiana by Little Cypress Creek, Cypress Bayou, and Caddo Lake. The other third of the county is drained by the Sabine River, which forms a part of its southern boundary.[11] These waterways were critical to early transportation in the county.

Adjacent counties


Major highways


The TTC-69 component (recommended preferred) of the once-planned Trans-Texas Corridor went through Harrison County.[12][13]

National protected area






Unincorporated communities



Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[14]
1850–2010[15] 2010–2020[16]
Demographic Profile of Harrison County, Texas
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010[17] Pop 2020[16] % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 42,654 42,039 64.99% 61.07%
Black or African American alone (NH) 14,303 13,448 21.79% 19.54%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 277 294 0.42% 0.43%
Asian alone (NH) 331 483 0.50% 0.70%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 26 28 0.04% 0.04%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 52 267 0.08% 0.39%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 734 2,441 1.12% 3.55%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 7,254 9,839 11.05% 14.29%
Total 65,631 68,839 100.00% 100.00%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.

In 2000, the 2000 U.S. census reported there were 62,110 people, 23,087 households, and 16,945 families residing in the county.[18] The population density was 69 people per square mile (27 people/km2). There were 26,271 housing units at an average density of 29 units per square mile (11/km2). During July 2018's estimates by the United States Census Bureau, Harrison County had a population of 66,726.[19] At the publication of the 2020 census, its population increased to 68,839.[16]

At the 2000 census, the racial makeup of the county was 71.35% White, 24.03% Black or African American, 0.35% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 2.86% from other races, and 1.06% from two or more races; 5.34% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. In 2018, the racial makeup of Harrison County was 63.2% non-Hispanic white, 21.1% Black or African American, 1.2% American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, and 1.7% from two or more races. Hispanics and Latino Americans of any race made up 13.6% of the populace. In 2020, the racial and ethnic makeup was 61.07% non-Hispanic white, 19.54% Black or African American, 0.43% Native American, 0.70% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.39% some other race, 3.55% multiracial, and 14.29% Hispanic or Latino American of any race; alongside statewide trends, the increase in traditionally minority populations reflected nationwide diversification.[20][21]

The largest ancestry groups in Harrison County at the 2010 United States census were: English (41%), Black or African American (24%), Irish (8%), German (3%), Scotch-Irish (3%), Scottish (2%), Dutch (1%), Italian (1%), French or French Canadian (except Basque) (1%), Mexican (1%), and Polish (1%).

At the 2018 American Community Survey, the median household income was $51,202 and 14.7% of the population were below the poverty line. The median gross rent in the county was $779 from 2014 to 2018, and the median house monthly owner costs without mortgage were $403. The median with a mortgage was $1,266.[19]



The following school districts serve Harrison County:[22]

Panola College is the assigned community college for the majority of Harrison County, according to the Texas Education Code. The portion in Hallsville ISD is instead zoned to Kilgore Junior College.[23]



The county is represented in the Texas House of Representatives by Republican Chris Paddie, a former mayor of Marshall.

United States presidential election results for Harrison County, Texas[24]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 21,466 72.23% 7,908 26.61% 343 1.15%
2016 18,749 70.62% 7,151 26.94% 648 2.44%
2012 17,512 66.92% 8,456 32.31% 202 0.77%
2008 17,103 65.38% 8,887 33.97% 168 0.64%
2004 16,473 62.82% 9,642 36.77% 108 0.41%
2000 13,834 60.23% 8,878 38.65% 258 1.12%
1996 9,835 45.42% 10,307 47.60% 1,513 6.99%
1992 8,733 38.50% 9,538 42.05% 4,412 19.45%
1988 11,957 56.18% 8,974 42.16% 354 1.66%
1984 12,618 61.52% 7,773 37.90% 118 0.58%
1980 9,328 53.32% 7,746 44.28% 419 2.40%
1976 7,787 49.79% 7,796 49.85% 56 0.36%
1972 9,600 68.28% 4,333 30.82% 127 0.90%
1968 3,668 26.29% 4,959 35.55% 5,324 38.16%
1964 5,568 46.67% 6,351 53.24% 11 0.09%
1960 4,613 46.39% 5,108 51.36% 224 2.25%
1956 5,048 64.76% 2,668 34.23% 79 1.01%
1952 4,708 51.01% 4,516 48.93% 5 0.05%
1948 946 16.93% 2,504 44.81% 2,138 38.26%
1944 619 12.36% 3,588 71.63% 802 16.01%
1940 681 13.11% 4,515 86.89% 0 0.00%
1936 302 8.14% 3,400 91.69% 6 0.16%
1932 528 11.47% 4,057 88.12% 19 0.41%
1928 1,776 46.69% 2,023 53.18% 5 0.13%
1924 463 14.19% 2,573 78.88% 226 6.93%
1920 377 11.85% 2,134 67.09% 670 21.06%
1916 172 10.64% 1,374 85.02% 70 4.33%
1912 140 9.70% 1,140 79.00% 163 11.30%

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Campbell, Randolph B. "Harrison County - The Handbook of Texas Online". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved May 24, 2011.
  2. ^ "Harrison County, Texas". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 30, 2022.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ "Texas: Individual County Chronologies". Texas Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. The Newberry Library. 2008. Retrieved June 20, 2015.
  5. ^ "Harrison County". Texas Almanac. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved June 20, 2015.
  6. ^ Williams, Patrick G. “Suffrage Restriction in Post-Reconstruction Texas: Urban Politics and the Specter of the Commune.” The Journal of Southern History, vol. 68, no. 1, 2002, pp. 31–64. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3069690. Accessed September 7, 2020.
  7. ^ Lynching in America, Third Edition: Supplement by County Archived October 23, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, p. 9, Equal Justice Initiative, Mobile, AL, 2017
  8. ^ Brandon T. Jett, The Bloody Red River: Lynching and Racial Violence in Northeast Texas, 1890-1930, 2012, M.A. Thesis, p. 63; Texas State University-San Marcos
  9. ^ "5.3 Historical Barriers to Voting", Texas Politics, University of Texas website, 2018
  10. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
  11. ^ Randolph B. Campbell, "Harrison County", (uploaded 2010/updated 2017), Handbook of Texas Online; accessed May 16, 2018
  12. ^ TxDoT, TTC Section E, Detailed Map 1, 2007-12-21 Archived February 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ TxDoT, TTC Section F, Detailed Map 2, 2007-12-28 Archived February 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Decennial Census of Population and Housing by Decades". US Census Bureau.
  15. ^ "Texas Almanac: Population History of Counties from 1850–2010" (PDF). Texas Almanac. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 9, 2022. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
  16. ^ a b c "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Harrison County, Texas". United States Census Bureau.
  17. ^ "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Harrison County, Texas". United States Census Bureau.
  18. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  19. ^ a b "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Harrison County, Texas". www.census.gov. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  20. ^ Janie Boschma, Daniel Wolfe, Priya Krishnakumar, Christopher Hickey, Meghna Maharishi, Renée Rigdon, John Keefe and David Wright (August 12, 2021). "Census release shows America is more diverse and more multiracial than ever". CNN. Retrieved May 20, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ "The Chance That Two People Chosen at Random Are of Different Race or Ethnicity Groups Has Increased Since 2010". Census.gov. Retrieved May 20, 2022.
  22. ^ "2020 CENSUS - SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENCE MAP: Harrison County, TX" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved February 11, 2024. - Text list.
  24. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved July 25, 2018.

Further reading

  • Randolph B. Campbell, A Southern Community in Crisis: Harrison County, Texas, 1850–1880 (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1983).

  Media related to Harrison County, Texas at Wikimedia Commons

32°33′N 94°22′W / 32.55°N 94.37°W / 32.55; -94.37