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Town Bluff

TOWN BLUFF, TEXAS. Town Bluff is on State Highway 92 at the crossing of the Neches River, between Woodville and Jasper in Tyler County. It was one of the earliest settlements in the county. The settlement, also known for some of its history as Townbluff and as Fairview, had a ferry as early as 1833, operated by Wyatt Hanks, an early settler. In 1834 Hanks received a league of land in Lorenzo de Zavala's colony on the east bank of the Neches and sold hundreds of lots in the area, which was then in the municipality of Bevil. The settlement of Town Bluff was located in the municipality of Liberty on the boundary between the Liberty and Bevil municipalities. It was the temporary seat of government for the Menard District, constituted in 1841, from which Tyler County was demarked in 1846. During the first session of the Texas state legislature Town Bluff became the temporary county seat of Tyler County. After Woodville became the permanent county seat, a straight road was laid out between Town Bluff and Woodville. In 1990 this route is roughly followed by U.S. Highway 190.

Since it was at the head of navigation on the Neches, Town Bluff received steamboats regularly until the arrival of the railroads in Tyler County in the 1880s. The site was so attractive that John K. and Augustus C. Allen, founders of Houston, also bought 640 acres near Town Bluff, intending to build a city. Hanks called the place "Natchez on the Neches." However, the railroads bypassed the area and simultaneously made river shipping obsolete, and Town Bluff began to dwindle. A lawsuit, probably over land claims, contributed to the decline. In 1880 Town Bluff was the only place in the county besides Woodville that could be called a town. From its port it shipped cotton and cotton yarn. The population was estimated at a peak of 300 in the 1890s, but by 1936 Town Bluff was a ghost town, little more than a name for an area of dispersed farming families and fishermen. The post office, which had been established in 1848 with William Ferguson as postmaster, was discontinued in 1915. After 1948, however, U.S. Highway 190 began construction four miles north of the old community. In 1951 Dam B (see LAKE B. A. STEINHAGEN), also called Town Bluff Dam, was completed; it impounded a conservation lake north of Town Bluff, and the area became attractive to fishermen and vacationers. In the late 1960s the population of Town Bluff was twenty-six, where it remained in 1990.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Houston Post, November 22, 1970. It's Dogwood Time in Tyler County (Woodville, Texas), 1952, 1954. Lou Ella Moseley, Pioneer Days of Tyler County (Fort Worth: Miran, 1975). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin (Texas Cities).
                                                                                       Megan Biesele