Mount Pleasant, Titus County, Texas
East Texas is old country. The earliest American settlers in Texas made it their. They felled the great trees, plowed bottoms and hills, worked, loved, lived, and died in this ancient land.
Before them were the Indians - The Caddos - and before the Caddos other people, forever shrouded in the midst of time. For thousands of years man has called this green rolling country his home. The streams and lakes, the endless forest, the warm climate, the bountiful rains, it is a land that beckons. It has always been so.
In the heart of Northeast Texas is the town of Mount Pleasant, founded May 11, 1848. John Binion, Sr., Richard Moore, and L. Gilbert laid off a forty-eight block town site to serve as county seat for Titus County, which was created by a legislative act on May 11, 1846. Titus County was named for pioneer resident, Andrew Jackson Titus (1814-1855), the man who opened the county's first road to the river port in Jefferson.
Caddo Indian legend credits the name of the city to mounds in and near the original town site - mounds constructed by a prehistoric race. Red mineral springs had always attracted Indians to the area and nearby a great mound became famous among the Caddos. They called it in their language, "Pleasant Mound". Early American settlers took up the name, calling the general area Pleasant Mount, then finally Mount Pleasant.
The Caddo Indians were one of the first to appreciate the natural beauty and living conveniences of this area, for it was here that they made their home. Village sites and burial grounds of these Texas Indians have been located in numerous places in Titus County, on Ripley Creek, Harts Creek, Blundell Creek, Swannano Creek, and at Dellwood Park. Titus County was, perhaps, the last home of Indians in the Northeast Texas area. Caddo Indians were resident to this area as late as 1845.
Mount Pleasant grew steadily in the 1800's. In addition to farming, the economy centered around the large supply of hardwood trees. Land prices were quoted at two to ten dollars per acre. The town's population rose from 227 in 1850 to over 3,000 by 1900. By the twentieth century, truck farming had become commercially significant. In addition, an old pottery, founded during the Civil War, had moved to Mount Pleasant. In time it became one of the largest industries of its kind in the state. The opening of lignite coal mines also added to the economy.
Until after the Civil War, Titus County also included present-day Franklin and Morris Counties. High waters along the creeks and the Sulphur River often halted travel in the early years. Record time to haul cotton to Jefferson was 5 days by ox wagon.
In 1861, Titus County voted in favor of secession. During the Civil War the county furnished approximately 3,000 fighting men to the Confederate Army. Some of them fought and died on battlefields whose names still haunt the American past: Shiloh, Gettysburg, Chicamauga.
At home, tables drew heavily on game foods during the war years (deer, wild turkey, pigeon, bear). The county furnished the Confederate commissary with beef, butter, corn, rice, cotton, oats, sweet potatoes, flour, cornmeal, leather, lumber, pottery, tobacco, whiskey, and wool. Wartime manufacturing plants included 9 sawmills, 8 gristmills, 7 tanneries, and a steam powered distillery.
Mount Pleasant had a Confederate transportation depot employing blacksmiths, carpenters, harness makers, and wheelwrights. It procured equipment, horses and mules, and fashioned harnesses and wagons for the purpose of moving men, army supplies and government owned cotton.
In the aftermath of the Civil War, Mount Pleasant had to suffer the fate of the defeated. Reconstruction meant an army of occupation with local officials appointed by a radical Republican governor. The numerous Civil War grave markers in cemeteries all over the county and the statue of the Confederate soldier on the square, facing north in memory of those who did not return, attest to the fact that Mount Pleasant's young men eagerly participated.
Reconstruction ended by the late 1870's and once again the citizens of Titus County and Mount Pleasant gained control of their governments. Elections were held and duly elected officials took over and conditions improved.
More often, the returning veteran found farms which had been neglected for the four long years of the war. In about two years most farms were back to normal production with cotton "king" once again.
The town square in Mount Pleasant was usually heavy with wagon traffic as farmers came to town, tied their teams to the hitching rail on the square and spent the day taking care of their business. The merchants they did business with would let them have credit with a mortgage on the farmer's crop.
Mount Pleasant and Titus County were "pioneers" in good roads. In the latter part of the 19th century rural roads were frequently impassable so efforts were made for improvement. With the growing popularity of the automobile there had to be better roads. Men were called to do road work for a specified time just as they might be called to jury duty. By 1925 there were seventy miles of improved roads in the county, with over one million dollars spent in their improvement annually. Street and road improvement sped up as the Texas Highway Department appeared on the scene.
Education was never neglected, even in the early days. There were privately supported grade schools in Mount Pleasant the year of its founding, 1848. By 1959, the town also had a "male academy". The Masonic Lodge played an important role in establishing the first school in Mount Pleasant. The first graduation, which was a class of six girls, took place in 1906. Mount Pleasant schools have continued to be among the best in Northeast Texas.
With the railroad coming to the area, Mount Pleasant continued to progress even more. Mount Pleasant acquired its first railroad in 1878, the "Tyler Tap", a three foot gauge line. The Texas & St. Louis Railway Company acquired the Tyler Tap in 1879 and during the next few years connected with a through line from St. Louis to Waco, Texas. In 1887 a branch line was built from Mount Pleasant to Sherman, Texas. Some years later, the Paris and Mount Pleasant Railway Company gave the region still another rail outlet. All entered into helping Mount Pleasant become the "Hub of Northeast Texas." Mount Pleasant entered the 20th century still a rural community, but with hopes for a bright future.
Early in the 20th century an attempt was made to establish Dellwood as a health spa. From 1900-1910 Mount Pleasant also flourished as a pleasure resort and health spa thanks to the development of Dellwood Park and its mineral springs. A motor-driven trolley, on wooden rails, provided transportation from East 1st Street to the area which had a hotel and a swimming pool. The motor-powered trolley soon gave way to mule power. After a flurry of success, the Red Springs Development Company went broke; the hotel burned; and the Dellwood area became a wilderness again.
In 1917, when the United States entered World War I, the young men of Mount Pleasant answered the call to duty and many were sent to the battle fronts of Europe. Eighteen of them failed to return.
The 20th century found the square occupied by many enterprising merchants. They provided a great variety of merchandize that brought shopper from surrounding towns and counties. The square was an attractive setting with the courthouse as the center. The courthouse has undergone many changes through the years. It collapsed in 1867 and was replaced by another brick building which was destroyed by fire in 1894. It was rebuilt on the same foundation the following year, and then it was remodeled in 1940 and again in 1962.
During the depression in 1934, camps were established in various section to train and give employment to young men out of work. Civilian Conservation Camp number 2886 was established in Mount Pleasant on Edwards Avenue just opposite of the municipal water tower. The Works Progress Administration and the Public Works Administration also provided many jobs in the area.
December 7, 1941, shocked the people of Mount Pleasant but not for long as they quickly moved into wholehearted support of the war effort. The young men of the community enlisted and served in every branch of the service, many of them receiving medals for acts of bravery. It is recorded that sixty-seven men from this county lost their lives during the war.
During the past forty years, Mount Pleasant has continued to thrive and expand. Its schools and churches are outstanding; Dellwood Park has been developed into a great recreational area; many industries and businesses have helped to give our economy a tremendous boost. The Titus County Memorial Hospital and numerous doctors in almost every field of medicine have helped make mount Pleasant a medical center. The Civic center, provided by the citizens of Mount Pleasant and using no tax dollars, is a great addition to our community. The most recent accomplishment by the people of Mount Pleasant and the surrounding area was the establishment of Northeast Texas Community College, which was an immediate success.