ANAHUAC, TEXAS. Anahuac, the county seat of Chambers County, is on the northeast bank of Trinity Bay on the Texas Gulf Coast. The earliest inhabitants of the Anahuac area were Atakapan Indians. In 1721 French explorer Jean Baptiste de La Harpe visited a village of some 200 Atakapans located between the future site of Anahuac and Round Point. The site was originally known by Anglos as Perry's point, a name attributed to Col. Henry Perry, a noted filibuster, who established a camp there in 1816. Col. John Davis Bradburn, the newly appointed Mexican commander, arrived there in October 1830 with three officers and forty men to begin construction of a fort. Gen. Manuel de Mier y Terán, commanding officer of the Mexican states of Coahuila and Texas, officially named the town Anahuac in January 1831, after the ancient capital of the Aztecs.
Fort Anahuac was the scene of incidents in 1832 and 1835 that preceded the Texas Revolution (see ANAHUAC DISTURBANCES). Although the town flourished briefly prior to the 1832 battle, the population declined dramatically afterward. A long-running civil dispute between Gen. Thomas Jefferson Chambers and Charles Willcox over ownership of the townsite began in 1838 and was not fully resolved until after the assassination of Chambers in 1865. This dispute obviously hindered the development of the town. General Chambers briefly called the town Chambersea in his own honor, but the town did not follow suit. A small Confederate outpost was established here in 1862 and was called Fort Chambers.
The first significant commercial development came with the establishment of a large sawmill in 1894 by Jesse and Charles R. Cummings. The mill was moved to Wallisville in 1898. The construction of the Lone Star Canal Company began in 1902 under the direction of Berriman Richard Garland and A. L. Williams. The Anahuac Townsite Company, under the direction of William Duncan Willcox, George R. Fahring, and Francis M. Hamilton, began real estate development of the town in the early 1900s. Business leaders were successful in an April 11, 1907, election to make Anahuac the county seat instead of Wallisville. Legal efforts to reverse the election failed, and the First Court of Civil Appeals ordered county records transferred to Anahuac in 1908.
The Anahuac Independent School District was established in 1917 and in 1990 covered the middle portion of Chambers County, including the communities of Double Bayou, Eminence, Hankamer, Oak Island, Smith Point, and Wallisville. All school facilities are located in Anahuac. The 1935 discoveries of the Anahuac and Turtle Bay oilfields brought another period of economic development for Anahuac. Voters approved the incorporation of the city of Anahuac on October 30, 1948, and elected attorney Everett Cain mayor on January 8, 1949. The Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1963 by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge is located sixteen miles southeast of Anahuac. The Anahuac Area Chamber of Commerce organized the first annual Gatorfest in September 1989, an event that drew 14,000 people to Fort Anahuac Park. In 1990 the population of Anahuac was 1,993. In 2000 the population was 2,210.
Anahuac Progress, May 19, 1939. Bexar Archives, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. John V. Clay, Spain, Mexico and the Lower Trinity: An Early History of the Texas Gulf Coast (Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1987). Jewel Horace Harry, A History of Chambers County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1940; rpt., Dallas: Taylor, 1981). Margaret S. Henson, Anahuac in 1832: The Cradle of the Texas Revolution (Anahuac, Texas: Fort Anahuac Committee of the Chambers County Historical Commission, 1982). Margaret S. Henson, Juan Davis Bradburn: A Reappraisal of the Mexican Commander of Anahuac (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982). Margaret S. Henson and Kevin Ladd, Chambers County: A Pictorial History (Norfolk, Virginia: Donning, 1988). Sally Hill, Lone Star Canal: Application for Official Texas Historical Marker (MS, Chambers County Historical Commission, Anahuac, Texas, 1978). William Kennedy, Texas: The Rise, Progress, and Prospects of the Republic of Texas (London: Hastings, 1841; rpt., Fort Worth: Molyneaux Craftsmen, 1925). Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies (Washington: Department of the Navy, 1894–1927).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Kevin Ladd, "ANAHUAC, TX," accessed January 24, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hja08.
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