Indians friendly to the settlers resided in east Texas before the Kiowa, Kickapoo, Kichai, Apache and Comanche intruded upon their territory. These tribes hunted, farmed the land, and were adept traders. By 1772 they had settled on the Brazos at Waco and on the Trinity upstream from the site of present Palestine. The Tawakoni branch of Wichita Indians originated north of Texas, but migrated south into east Texas. From 1843 onward, the Tawakoni were part of treaties made by both the Republic of Texas and the United States.
On May 19, 1836 an alliance of Comanche, Kiowa, Caddo and Wichita attacked Fort Parker, killing or kidnapping all but about 18 settlers who managed to escape to Fort Houston, which had been erected in Anderson County in 1835 as protection against Indians. Among the captured was Cynthia Ann Parker, who later became mother of Comanche Chief Quanah Parker. Some residents of Anderson County are related to Cynthia Ann Parker.
In October 1838, Gen. Thomas Jefferson Rusk conducted a raid against hostile Indians at Kickapoo, near Frankston, ending the engagements with the Indians in eastern Texas for that year.
In 1826, empresario David G. Burnet received a grant from the Coahuila y Tejas legislature to settle 300 families in what is now Anderson County. Most of the settlers in the county came from the southern states and from Missouri.
Baptist spiritual leader Daniel Parker and eight other men organized the Pilgrim Predestinarian Regular Baptist Church in Lamotte, Illinois. The fellowship in its entirety migrated in 1833 to the new frontier of Texas. Among this group of settlers were Silas M. Parker, Moses Herrin, Elisha Anglin, Luther T. M. Plummer, David Faulkenberry, Joshua Hadley, and Samuel Frost. Fort Parker was the earliest actual settlement in the vicinity. After the fort was attacked, some of the survivors moved to Anderson County.
The First Legislature of the state of Texas formed Anderson County from Houston County on March 24, 1846. The county was named after Kenneth Lewis Anderson. Palestine was named county seat.
Anderson County voted in favor of secession from the Union. When the Civil War broke out, former Palestine district judge Judge John H. Reagan served in the cabinet of the Confederate government as postmaster general, being captured at the end of the war and spending twenty-two months in solitary confinement. During Reconstruction, District Nine Court Judge Reuben A. Reeves, a resident of Palestine, was removed from office as "an obstruction to Reconstruction" in part because of his refusal to allow blacks to participate as jurors in the judicial process.
In 1875, the International – Great Northern Railroad placed its machine and repair shops and general offices in Palestine, causing the community to double in size over the next five years.
In January 1928 the first successful oil producer in Anderson County, known as the Humble-Lizzie Smith No. 1, was brought in. By the year 2000 - 295,904,540 barrels (47,045,062 m3) of oil had been taken from county lands since 1929.
The Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area was purchased by the state between 1950 and 1960, much of it. Milze L. Derden. The area was renamed in 1952 after Gus A. Engeling, the first biologist assigned to the area, was shot and killed by a poacher on December 13, 1951.
Anderson County tied for 13th place in a list of the 25 American counties with the highest number of lynchings between 1877-1950.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,078 square miles (2,790 km2), of which 1,063 square miles (2,750 km2) is land and 15 square miles (39 km2) (1.4%) is water. U.S. Highway 79
U.S. Highway 84
U.S. Highway 175
U.S. Highway 287
State Highway 19
State Highway 155
State Highway 294
Henderson County (north)
Cherokee County (east)
Houston County (south)
Leon County (southwest)
Freestone County (west)
Neches River National Wildlife Refuge (part)
As of the census of 2000, there were 55,109 people, 15,678 households, and 11,335 families residing in the county. The population density was 52 people per square mile (20/km²). There were 18,436 housing units at an average density of 17 per square mile (7/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 66.44% White, 23.48% Black or African American, 0.64% Native American, 0.45% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 8.00% from other races, and 0.96% from two or more races. 12.17% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 15,678 households out of which 34.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.50% were married couples living together, 13.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.70% were non-families. 24.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.07.
In the county, the population was spread out with 20.70% under the age of 18, 9.30% from 18 to 24, 37.70% from 25 to 44, 20.60% from 45 to 64, and 11.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 155.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 173.40 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $31,957, and the median income for a family was $37,513. Males had a median income of $27,070 versus $21,577 for females. The per capita income for the county was $13,838. About 12.70% of families and 16.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.60% of those under age 18 and 16.60% of those age 65 or over.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) operates state prisons for men in the county. The prisons Beto, Coffield, Michael, and Powledge units and the Gurney Unit transfer facility are co-located in an unincorporated area 7 miles (11 km) west of Palestine. The Beto Unit has the Correctional Institutions Division Region II maintenance headquarters.
The following school districts serve areas in Anderson County:Athens Independent School District (partial)
Cayuga Independent School District
Elkhart Independent School District (partial)
Frankston Independent School District (partial)
La Poynor Independent School District (partial)
Neches Independent School District
Palestine Independent School District
Slocum Independent School District
Westwood Independent School District
Anderson County is part of the Dallas/Fort Worth DMA. Local TV media outlets include: KDFW-TV, KXAS-TV, WFAA-TV, KTVT-TV, KERA-TV, KTXA-TV, KDFI-TV, KDAF-TV, and KFWD-TV. Other nearby TV stations that provide coverage for Anderson County come from the Tyler/Longview/Jacksonville market and they include: KLTV, KTRE-TV, KYTX-TV, KFXK-TV, KCEB-TV, and KETK-TV.
Newspapers serving Anderson County include the Palestine Herald-Press in Palestine and the once-weekly Frankston Citizen in Frankston.Palestine (county seat)