Tidbits of Shelby County History
Center in 1873

This week’s article is taken from papers I found talking about what kind of town Center was in 1902. The author of the article is unknown.

The following article was found among some old papers by the Elliot and Waldron Abstract Company, who have just recently opened their office formerly occupied by the Sabine Abstract Company. This is the form used to tell the world what kind of town Center was 29 years (1873) ago.

Center, Texas
May 26th, 1902

Dear Sir:

This is intended as an answer to your letter and to the inquires of others about Center, it needs, and advantages as a business point, etc.

Center is the County Seat of Shelby County, a territory of nine hundred square miles. The town is about three hundred and fifty feet above sea level and surrounded by fine farming lands, good pine and other kinds of timber, freestone water generally, and in wells from twenty to fifty feet deep, and with the proper sanitary regulations and care in living is and would be as healthful as any other East Texas town. It is twelve miles South from Tenaha, the nearest shipping point on the H.E. & W.T. Railroad, but the construction of the G.B. & G.N. Railroad from Beaumont to Center is now going on, and said road will likely be completed and running trains into Center about the first of September or October next – thus affording quick and easy communication with Beaumont, Galveston, new Orleans and the outside world. The depot grounds, Y’s and round house grounds already located about one-half mile east from the Courthouse. It is claimed that the school here is one of the best in East Texas and a new or additional school building is soon to be erected to meet the demand for more and better accommodations along educational lines.

Certain business enterprises are very much needed, and no doubt, can be made to pay if properly managed. There is no bakery, shoe or harness shop, ice factory, electric light plant, restaurant, mattress factory, nor street car line in the town. The population of Center is about twelve or fifteen hundred.

Mechanics, carpenters, plasterers, painters, brick-layers, etc, good one only, are needed, and wages for such men about tow to two and one-half dollars per day, but they are respectfully referred to Bridges and Fleshman, W.A. Mitchell, George Porter and Barto McLendon, builders and contractors, of this place, for further particulars as to work in those lines, and the prices for such work.

We have two newspapers, The Champion and The Democrat, job office attached to both; a national bank, and a first-class telephone exchange.

Some desirable acre lots can be had from seventy-five to two hundred and fifty dollars within four or five yards of the public square, but further out lots and land are cheaper. The soil is generally gray sandy with red clay foundation, and especially well adapted to fruit and vegetable culture.

Honest, thrifty people, and those not too impatient to get rich, would do well to investigate and look into the situation here before investing elsewhere.

Some twelve or fifteen brick businesses are to be erected this summer and fall. Several good boarding houses are needed and will probably be built.

In town and in the surrounding country there is lignite coal, potter’s clay and good material for brick. No very large bodies of pine land can now be secured near town, but there are small tracts of good pine and other timber lands out a few miles.

Some facts about Center in 2021

The town was incorporated in 1893; however, the result of this incorporation was dissolved and the city passed a charter in 1901.  The city underwent a charter review and adopted a new home rule charter April 7, 1984. The Gulf, Beaumont and Great Northern Railway arrived at Center by 1904. Electrical power was available at Center by 1909. The population was 5,193 at the 2010 U.S. Census.

Some notable people from Center were:

Charlie Bradshaw, a professional football player, who played eleven seasons in the National Football League, mainly for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Delbert Martin Shofner was an American football wide receiver who played for eleven seasons with the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Giants from 1957-1967. He was a five-time All-Pro player. In 1962, he finished second in receiving touchdowns with 12. Shofner's 1963 receiving yards total of 1,181 was his career-best and the third highest in the NFL that season. Shofner helped lead the Baylor Bears to a 13-7 victory over Tennessee in the 1957 Sugar Bowl and was voted the games' Most Valuable Player.

Wayne Christian is a financial planner from Center who is a member of the Texas Railroad Commission, having won the position in November 8, 2016. He formerly served in the Texas House of Representatives for District 9, which included Jasper, Nacogdoches, Sabine, San Augustine, and Shelby Counties. He is also the former president of the Texas Conservative Coalition.

Charles A. McClelland, Jr. was the police chief of the Houston Police Department (HPD) from 2010 through 2016. Joining the department in May 1977, McClelland worked his way up through the ranks, from rookie to assistant chief in 1998, before being asked to step in as acting chief. A graduate of the University of Houston–Downtown, University of Houston–Clear Lake, and the FBI National Academy, he oversaw the department's implementation of tasers and a real-time crime analysis program.

Dan L. Duncan was an American born in Center, Texas. He was the co-founder, chairman and majority shareholder of Enterprise Products. In 1957, he went to work for Wanda Petroleum, a midstream pipeline company. In 1968, he left Wanda, and with $10,000 and two propane delivery trucks, helped found Enterprise Products Co. In 1998, he took Enterprise Products Partners LP public. In 2010, Enterprise owned over 48,700 miles of onshore and offshore pipelines and nearly 220 million barrel equivalents of natural gas and natural gas liquids of storage capacity. He also headed mid-stream energy firms Duncan Energy Partners LP (NYSE: DEP) and Enterprise GP Holdings LP (NYSE: EPE). In 2007, he received the Petrochemical Heritage Award in recognition of his work. Duncan donated $75 million to Texas Children's Hospital and the Houston Museum of Natural Science, as well as $135 million to Baylor College of Medicine.

Bryan Keith Hitt (born January 5, 1954, Center, Texas) is an American rock drummer who is currently drumming for the band REO Speedwagon. Prior to his involvement with REO Speedwagon, Hitt played with Cher, Graham Nash, and The Spencer Davis Group. He also recorded with Nick Gilder, Gary Busey and Wang Chung.

He joined REO's line up in 1989 for the release of album The Earth, a Small Man, His Dog and a Chicken. Since that time Hitt has played on three more studio albums with the group: Building the Bridge (1996), Find Your Own Way Home (2007) and Not So Silent Night...Christmas with REO Speedwagon (2009).