Tidbits of Shelby County History
Creation of the Town of Center

I want to apologize for not writing any articles for the last 2 weeks. First week I had a sick great grandbaby that was in the hospital.  He is much better now. And last week I was not feeling well. This week is a much better week so I thought I would share more information available in the museum. The information for this week is found in a folder titled “Shelby County History”. Some of the articles do not show an author.

Creation of theTown of Center

Jesse Amason arrived in Texas by 1834. He fought in the Texas Revolution and received two land grants from the Republic of Texas. He also had received a Mexican head right land grant of a "league and a labor" (4605 acres of land), which was recognized by the Republic of Texas. Jesse located that grant in Shelby County Texas. Sarah A. (Inman) Amason received a widow's pension because Jesse also fought in the War with Mexico in 1846 and in 1847. In the year 1857, he made a deed to J.C. Wilson and his wife, Margaret Ann, for 500 acres of the league. In 1866, Amason and Margaret Wilson each deeded 50 acres to Shelby County Commissioner’s Court to sell for lots and make deeds in the name of Shelby County.The spot was chosen for the town with the stipulation being that the county seat be located there. The donation was known as the "town donation". The ground was surveyed, the town platted and appropriately named Center.Not much is known about the early history or life of Jesse Amason except he was born about 1805 in Tennessee and died in 1870 in Shelby County.An article written April 26, 1870 in The Galveston Daily News stated that "many of our old Texans are passing away - Sam K. McClelland of Shelbyville, Capt. Jesse Amason, Milton Irish and Matthew Cartwright, have died within a short time."

At this time R.L. Parker was the County and District Clerk for Shelby County, and it was he who slipped into Shelbyville at night and stole all the county records and moved them to the new surveyed spot that became known as Center. Parker set up an office in a tent, guarding his records with a rifle until a wooden courthouse could be constructed to house the records. They remained there until about the first of June 1882, when the courthouse burned destroying all records. The present courthouse was erected in 1885. It was in 1866 that the first post office was established in Center, being moved from a nearby community called White Cottage, which had had a post office since 1848. 

Other post offices in the county were:

  1. Shelbyville was the first post office established in Shelby county, May 22, 1846 and the first postmaster as W.C. Crawford.
  2. Ashton, March 8, 1847; Henry C. Ashton
  3. Hilliard’s, March 8, 1847; Claiborne T. Hilliard
  4. Hamilton, March 8, 1847; Charles H. Alexander. Name changed to East Hamilton, December 9, 1874.
  5. Buena Vista, October 30, 1848; John C. Morrison
  6. Truit’s Store, July 18, 1854; Alfred M. Truit
  7. Graham’s Mills, December 12, 1854; James T. Graham
  8. Clay Mound, March 15, 1858; John Clay
  9. Center, October 11, 1866; Benjamin Harkness
  10. Patroon, July 2, 1868; William Defee
  11. Thompson, November 4, 1885; James B. Blankenship
  12. Tenaha, April 7, 1886; James N. Woodfin
  13. Joaquin, May 5, 1886; Erastus F. Sayers

A total of 70 post offices have operated in Shelby County from 1848 to the present, although the duration of services for most was for a very short time. Only Center, Timpson, Shelbyville, Tenaha, and Joaquin now maintain post offices.

Pioneer Doctors

Pioneer doctors played an important role in the history of the county. Beside the healing arts, the old-time family doctor was required to be a soothsayer, preacher, lawyer, nurse, messenger, teacher, and adviser on all topics.

The federal census of 1850 listed 7 doctors practicing in Shelby County. Their age ranged from 26 to 40 and all were born in a state of the deep South. They were: John S. Paisley, T.G. Williams, Jackson Grady, W.P. Landrum, E.C. Mauldin, James H. Stewart, and PresniusAmote.

Other doctors of the 20th century were: W.P. Smith (Confederate veteran), F.W. Fambro (Confederate veteran), John G. Rushing, John B. Sims, C.C. Bryan, Eugene S. Carroll, J. Merrill Rogers, M.M. Paul, Warwick Duke, P.G Swearingen, Edward N. Foster, Jack Windham, Will C. Windham, J.L. King, James H. Clardy (Confederate veteran), John B. Bussey (Confederate veteran), W.F. Smith, W.J. Spivey (Confederate veteran), also Dr. Ramsey and Dr. Horn.