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Railroad spurs Trinity development

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Railroad St., Trinity, Texas published Mansell’s Pharmacy.Railroad St., Trinity, Texas published Mansell’s Pharmacy.

The creation and growth of the city of Trinity starts prior to the coming of the railroad in 1872. 

In the late 1850s, James William Kaiser, along with his large family, settled on the prairie lands north of the Trinity River. In 1872. Capt. George Gibson and Colonel S.T. Robb platted the town the name was Kayser’s Prairie 

After the Houston and Great Northern Railroad, the stop at Kayser’s Prairie was known as Trinity Station because of its location on the Trinity River. Later this was shortened to Trinity.

Many founders of Trinity originally came from Sumpter, the Trinity County Seat at that time. After Sumpter courthouse burned Nov. 2, 1872, they moved to Trinity where the railroad had arrived earlier that year. 

Gibson had been a surveyor for more than 20 years. In 1857, he settled on Caney Creek, 10 miles east of present-day Trinity.

Robb was a lawyer, and later settled on Robb Hill in Trinity; he also was Trinity’s first postmaster. In those early years, the entire business community was composed of two stores and five saloons. 

Conditions continued to improve, and by 1900, there were three general stores, three grocery stores, two meat markets, two drug stores, one cotton gin, a bakery shop, one dairy, one candy kitchen, one livery stable, two blacksmiths, four doctors, one opera house, two saloons, one ice house and, most importantly, two schools.

With the growth of industry came the need for hotels. One of the first hotels was built by W.H. Manry. It was a frame building located on the corner of Main and Railroad streets. He later sold hotel to the Hollands. 

A devastating fire consumed many structures in 1909. The Feb. 22, 1909, fire started on the second floor of Holland’s Hotel and leapt across the street to Frank Parker’ s Feed Store. This fire apparently had a profound affect the construction in Trinity, as the non-burning brick became the construction material of choice. 

After the 1909 fire, Holland built a brick hotel, which definitely had an effect on the consideration for a non-burning material of construction for the “Old Red” Schoolhouse.

The town of Trinity was incorporated in 1910, and the city aldermen held their first meeting on Jan. 3, 1911. Several churches were started, and the first school (1872) was located on the corner of the present location of the Cedar Grove Cemetery. 

It was a one-room, one-teacher log structure. Mr. Champion was known as professor and was the principal, and there were 11 students enrolled. Not far away, the Skains Chapel Singing School was one of the earliest types of education in this area; students were taught by composer William Henry Skains. 

The first public school was organized in 1895. This for a citizen’s vote to incorporate. The old frame building consisted of four rooms located west of Cedar Grove Cemetery. Around the time “Old Red” was being built, the building was moved to “Squash” for use at the black school. 

From 1912 to 1915,  classes were held in the frame building, as well as in the Masonic Hall.

The Trinity County Historical Commission helps identify and preserve historical sites and helps to preserve the heritage of Trinity County.

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