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 »


Patricia B. Hensley

SUMPTER, TEXAS. Sumpter, a ghost town five miles east of Groveton in central Trinity County, served as the first seat of government after the county was established in February 1850. The home of Solomon Adams, the first white settler in the area, was designated the temporary site for various courts until permanent facilities could be erected. Meanwhile, the state legislature appointed the first commissioners to organize the town, which the legislators named for either the community or the county of Sumpter, Alabama. Although a post office opened in December 1851, the town was not formally laid out until November 20, 1855. With the hope that the area would become a railroad center, business and professional men flocked to Sumpter, which was incorporated on January 11, 1862.

Following the Civil War the railroad bypassed Sumpter, and the businesses began to leave. The courthouse burned on November 2, 1872, and the town of Trinity became county seat on May 30, 1873. The post office at Sumpter closed in 1874. The lumber companies, having cut down the forests, departed, and farmers sold out and moved. The number of school children decreased to twenty-six in 1884 and twelve in 1895. Even houses were moved. Sumpter, once the largest town in the county and sometime home of outlaw John Wesley Hardin, became a ghost town. A cemetery, a few large trees, and a historical marker in a field remain at the site.

Ed Ellsworth Bartholomew, 800 Texas Ghost Towns (Fort Davis, Texas: Frontier, 1971). Houston Chronicle, January 24, 1971.

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, Patricia B. Hensley, "SUMPTER, TX," accessed May 29, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hvsdb.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Texas AlmanacFor more information about towns and counties including physical features, statistics, weather, maps and much more, visit the Town Database on TexasAlmanac.com!
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...