While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Rachel Jenkins

ALBA, TEXAS. Alba, also known as Simpkins Prairie and Albia, is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 69 and Farm Road 17, south of Lake Fork Reservoir and ten miles west of Quitman on the western border of Wood County. Probably the first to settle in the area was gunsmith Joseph Simpkins, who arrived with his family from Missouri around 1843. Next came W. W. Dale, who settled on Dale's (now Dale) Creek near the site of Alba. In 1881 the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad came through Alba. One of the earliest shipments to the community was a telegraph office, and among the first telegraphs received was one telling of the assassination of President James Garfield (d. September 19, 1881). Late in 1881 Alba received a post office, which closed briefly early in 1882, then reopened later that year. For a time the railroad station and school may have been known as Albia. According to one story the town got its name because it was intended for white settlers only; another says it was named for the son of a railroad official. By 1882 the townsite had been laid out and several stores were opened to serve the influx of railroad-tie cutters. By 1884 the population of fifty was served by a church and a school. The population reached 300 by 1896, when the community had at least fifteen businesses, as well as Methodist, Baptist, and Christian churches and a school with 134 students.

Around 1900 lignite coal was discovered in the vicinity, and in 1902–03 the Texas Short Line Railway was built to ship coal from Alba and Hoyt to Grand Saline. By 1908 the Alba weekly News had been established, and the community had expanded its school and acquired a large farmers'-union warehouse. By 1911 five area mines were producing 40,000 tons of coal a month, and Alba had two banks and a population of around 1,500. In 1914 the community also had a waterworks, a telephone company, and a hotel. By the mid-1920s Alba was incorporated. The population ranged from 1,600 to 2,000 in the late 1920s, then fell to 662 in the early 1930s, by which time the banks had closed. At that time the community newspaper was the Herald; it was probably followed by the Reporter. Although the Alba oilfield was discovered by F. R. Jackson just south of the community in 1948, by 1952 the population had fallen to 545. That year the town had twenty-two businesses. Alba had 408 residents in the late 1960s, 676 residents and ten businesses in 1980, and 594 residents and fifteen businesses in 1988. In 1990 the community had extended into Rains County and had a population of 489. In 2000 the population dropped to 430. See also COAL AND LIGNITE MINING.

Adele W. Vickery, A Transcript of Centennial Edition, 1850–1950, Wood County Democrat (Mineola, Texas, 1974). Wood County, 1850–1900 (Quitman, Texas: Wood County Historical Society, 1976).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Rachel Jenkins, "ALBA, TX," accessed July 11, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/HLA10.

Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...