Palestine, Texas was founded in 1846, at the center of the recently established Anderson County. Palestine was named after Palestine, Illinois, the former home of revolutionary Baptist
minister Daniel Parker, who had moved to Anderson country.
In 1847, the first post office was built and construction began for the first courthouse. The next year the population was 210. The first brick courthouse and Palestine Female Institute, which rested on four acres was built in 1856.
During the Civil War, Palestine was motivated and ready to fight. John T. Aycock was the first to recruit citizens of Palestine; he recruited about twenty men. Dr. John Woodward, a
Palestine resident, organized the first official company from Anderson County, but he was killed the first time they saw action in Manassas. A second company was organized in Palestine by
A.T. Rainey. When the troops came through Palestine, they normally camped in three places. They camped at Gum Springs, which was not far east of town, at the Long Lake Plantation, or at
Fred Jackson’s Plantation, who was one of the wealthiest men in Texas and a faithful supporter of the Confederate army. Palestine citizens often went to watch the troops do drills and train as a
form of entertainment. They housed soldiers in their homes and the town held celebrations for them. The churches often did special services for the troops. Palestine had one of the key salt
works that supported the Confederate army. The salt was used to preserve meat, to help with horses and mules (who were used by the cavalry, artillery, and quartermaster units), and
preserved hides for shoes, harnesses, and saddles.
Over the next ten years after the Civil War, twelve dry-good stores were built, and there was a paddle wheel steamer port, used for shipping goods on the Trinity River. The
International-Great Northern Railroad rendered the paddle wheel steamer obsolete in 1872. This railroad ran through town, specifically near the courthouse, and a station was built nearby. For a
time there was a car built to take citizens from the courthouse to the station, but it proved to be economically harmful, and the car was sold to the developing city of Dallas.
The 1890s was a time of great growth in the little city. Near the tracks, business began to boom. Stores, saloons, and lodging began popping up everywhere. By 1896, a depot which shipped cotton, lumber, cottonseed oil, and fruit was built. There was several schools, mills and gins, an opera house, two private banks, and several churches. The population was 6,000. Then by 1914, the fifth courthouse was built. Three daily newspapers and five weekly newspapers were in town. There were multiple saw and grist mills and railroad shops. There were cotton gins, a cotton compressed, a foundry and machine shop, a brick factory, a saltworks, and a creamery.
The population had grown to 11,000. Palestine, Texas was lucky enough to have struck oil in 1928. This oil saved Palestine citizens from suffering too much during the Great Depression. Oil created excitement and jobs in the city. There was no shortage of jobs with many producing fields, and with Palestine being the center or oil well servicing and supplies. During this time there were well over 350 rated businesses in town. Palestine since then has continued to grow and thrive.