THE HISTORY OF TEXARKANA USA,  

Submitted by Betty Meador Sharp   

BOWIE COUNTY TEXAS AND MILLER COUNTY ARKANSAS

THE CENTER OF THE FOUR STATES AREA OF

ARKANSAS, LOUISIANA, OKLAHOMA AND TEXAS 

Texarkana USA is a city that is part of two states, two counties and has two different city governments. These “twin” cities are located about 26 miles south of the boundary line of the two states of Texas and Arkansas where it intersects with Oklahoma, and about 28 miles north of where the point of these two states intersects with the Louisiana line.

 During the War Between the States, both Texas and Arkansas seceded from the Union, but afterwards some did not have a home to go back to, so many from the east and south headed west looking for land. MR. G. M. ORR, who came to this area in 1864 said, “only four families were already here,” the GARRETT family, ELI MOORES, JOHN NIX and W. W. WOOTTEN. The state of Arkansas was re-admitted to the Union in 1868 and the state of Texas was admitted in 1870. This city has been shaped by its history, but by its day of Birth on DECEMBER 8, 1873, the people were ready to find land and settle down to raise their families. The Texas and Pacific Railway Company was ready to offer land for sale along its right of way, so persons already settled on any of the land that was for sale had first chance to buy, but J. W. DAVIS was the only one to take that choice. 

The second lot was sold to WALTER HARRIS, the third lot to A. L. GHIO, Dr. I. W. TAYLOR and H. F. CLARK, who had come for the sale bought the next two lots. Before leaving to go back to Jefferson, Texas that evening MR. GHIO let a contract for a structure to be built on his lot. Because no sawmills were near to Texarkana, Col. R. W. RODGERS built the first one near the west end of Broad Street and the Deutschmann Canal. The second sawmill, built by WILLIAM BUCHANAN, was in the middle of the two hundred block of West Broad Street. 

Immediately after the first sale of lots, because the new development had brought a large number of undesirables, the more substantial citizens who had located here saw the need for some form of local government, and they did not wish to be governed by the county. Ten days after the first sale of town lots, a meeting was held to perfect such an organization and a man by the name of WOSSON was made chairman. The minutes of this meeting was recorded by DR. JAMES McMAHON. The following year in 1874, Texarkana, Texas was incorporated and an election was held and Capt. O. T. LYONS became the first mayor, W. W. WATKINS, W. H. HAKES, I. W. TAYLOR, WALTER HARRIS and D. F. STORY, aldermen.  

The first lots in Texarkana, Arkansas were offered for sale during January 1874 by the St. Louis Iron Mountain and Southern Railway Company, one month after the Texas side. In July 1880 a petition was presented to the Miller County Judge, M. W. EDWARDS, asking for the authority to organize a town government. This petition was signed by R. W. CHAPPEL, W. T. GAMMON, BLYTHE & CHAPPEL, SAM MILLER, RUBE GREEN, J. C. HILLER, J. A. BLYTHE, R. A. ALLEN, JOSEPH NELSON, R. E. FAWBUSH, R. F. MAYES J. C. RAY, S. B. JOHNSON, MIKE WALDRON, JOHN M. OATS, O. S. BURGESS, JOHN MORGAN, JR., IRA A. CHURCH, H. M. BEIDLER, and JAMES RICHIE. After the order of the court, a notice was posted for an election to be held October 17, 1880 and the following were elected, DR. H. M. BEIDLER, mayor, O. C. PORTER, recorder, W. J. ARTHUR S. J. BLYTHE, SAM NEELEY, and JOHN DOHERTY, aldermen. The council then elected J. H. DRAUGHON, treasurer, O. D. EAST, town attorney, and JAMES ASHCRAFT, town marshal.     

Because transportation is important for commerce, many came to this area because of the railroad, which was being built during this time. The first newspaper, THE GATE CITY NEWS, reported a population of 2,500 after only one year. State Line Avenue, which divides the states of Texas and Arkansas, is the most important thoroughfare in the city of Texarkana. COL. R. W. RODGERS, one of the early settlers saw the trouble that might come from owning property in a town where only an imaginary line separated the two states. At his own expense, he obtained a grant from the two railroads of 50 feet on each side of the line, providing a 100 feet wide avenue from the railroad all the way up to 9th Street. 

The first United States Post Office was established in Texarkana, on January 31, 1874, which was then in Lafayette County Arkansas, and EDWIN BANCROFT was the first postmaster. When Miller County Arkansas was recreated on December 22, 1874, the office was changed to Miller County. The site of this post office is not definitely known. A second post office was established in Texarkana, in Bowie County Texas on February 2, 1886 and WILLIS WHITAKER was appointed postmaster on that date. MRS. CHARLES A. WHITAKER succeeded him on September 15, 1886 and then on January 31, 1890, she was succeeded by RICHARD BRUNAZZI. 

 This post office was discontinued on December 31, 1892 and the Arkansas Post Office was moved to State Line Avenue where the red brick Post Office was built in 1893. In 1925 Congressman WINGO introduced a House resolution authorizing an appropriation of $500.000 to remodel the old red brick post office. This building was razed in 1930 and in 1933 the present structure was completed at a cost of approximately one million dollars, including additional ground area. It was put into service on September 30, 1930. The base of the new building is of Texas pink granite and the walls are of limestone from Arkansas. In 1970 it was recorded as a Texas Historic Landmark. Both building were photographed for many years and today there is a special place in front, where you may get your picture taken with one foot in Texas and one in Arkansas.   

On February 5, 1903 the Postmaster General issued an order that the Texarkana, Texas and Texarkana, Arkansas postmarking stamp be changed to read “TEXARKANA, ARK-TEX” and that it be inserted in the next list of post offices in the United States Official Guide. After the Zip Code was introduced, and we now have more than one zip code for this city it is no longer marked that way. Many people have come and gone but all have contributed to the history of Texarkana and we still believe that TEXARKANA USA is the GATEWAY TO THE SOUTHWEST.

 
 
© 2002 TUSAGS
02/10/2008