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Dallas County TX
Dallas County

SEAGOVILLE, TEXAS

Dallas County / Kaufman County, Central Texas North

3239'7"N 9633'0"W (32.651920, -96.550033)
U.S. Highway 175
A suburb of Dallas
18 miles SE of Dallas
10 miles from downtown Mesquite
Population: 16,093 Est. (2016)
14,835 (2010) 10,823 (2000) 8,969 (1990)

Book Hotel Here › Seagoville Hotels

Seagoville

by Clint Skinner
Points of Interest
Bruce Central Park - 1801 N Hwy 175
City Hall - 702 N Hwy 175
FCI Seagoville - 2113 N Hwy 175
Heard Park - 801 Shady Ln
John Bunker Sands Wetland Center - 655 Martin Ln
Lee Cemetery - 1706 Seagoville Rd
Post Oak Preserve - 1501 Bowers Road
Seagoville Veterans Memorial Park - 600 N Hwy 175
U. S. Army Reserve - 701 W Simonds Rd

Official Website
http://www.seagoville.us

History

Located near the eastern fork of the Trinity River, the city of Seagoville lies eighteen miles southeast of Dallas on State Highway 175. It rests in the bottom right-hand corner of Dallas County, though a small section crosses through Kaufman County's western border. Attracted to the water and rich land, three Native American tribes settled into this region.

The Caddo, Hainai, and Wichita had abandoned the nomadic lifestyle of their relatives the Pawnee in favor of an agricultural one. The three tribes spent most of their time farming but also engaged in heavy trade. The main products they sold to Indians living in Mexico and Southwestern America were copper, turquoise, obsidian, salt, and a type of hardwood called bois d'arc. Among the three tribes living along the Trinity River and its three forks, the Caddo were the most prevalent. They also received the most attention from outsiders, thanks to their mound temples and unique homes. Like other Native American tribes, the Caddo eventually lost their territory.


A section of this land was given to a Texas soldier named M. L. Swing as a reward for serving in the Civil War. The patent, which was issued in 1862, fell into the ownership of J. D. Merchant. Hugh L. Buchanan and other settlers entered the area after the conclusion of the war, attracted by the same features which lured the Caddoan tribes. Though most preferred the Cross Timbers because of its soil, a significant number chose the Blackland Prairies and Grand Prairies as their new home.

The number of residents eventually became plentiful enough to warrant the construction of a school in 1867. John A. Brinegar made a one-room log house on his property at the current location of Heard Park. Sitting on split logs, the students studied the basic, traditional subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic. The week always ended with a spelling contest.

On April 29, 1870, James J. Lee donated some land to be used as a cemetery under the condition that all burial plots would be free. Currently located at the intersection of Seagoville Road and Highway 175, the oldest cemetery in Southeast Dallas County was named after the Confederate Veteran. The land started out with one acre but expanded over the years to three acres. Overall, 1,500 people have been buried there, three hundred of them unknown. The other residents include the original pioneers, a slave, thirty Mexicans, and a Confederate officer named James S. Raines.

During the spring of 1872, eight people got together and combined their resources to buy some land to build a church. They purchased an acre for thirteen dollars and construction began on the one-room structure. With A. E. Baten as its pastor, Friendship Baptist Church became not only a place of worship, but also served as a school. This dual purpose motivated the owners of the organ to remove the instrument every Sunday night.


Tillman Kimsey Seago was born in Georgia during 1836, the son of a soldier who fought in the Mexican War. During one of the campaigns, Isaac contracted measles and died. At the age ten, Tillman and his mother Lucinda were forced to leave their home because of Isaac's demise. They moved to an area in Cass County where the town of Linden now resides. The two stayed together until Tillman married another former Georgian in 1855. Matilda brought him a total of eight children. While she took care of the family, Tillman tried his hand in agriculture then turned his efforts toward carpentry. When the Civil War erupted, he joined the Third Texas Calvary for a one-year contract, but he ended up serving the army for the entire duration of the war.

Seago went back to farming when he got back but had little luck, He moved his family to McClennan County and failed again. Once more, they looked for a new home in hopes of a brighter future. Unfortunately, Marion County was not the place, for his endeavor to operate a mill proved futile. His last destination was Dallas County. Tillman bought some land and finally had some success in farming. However, he decided to change his career and try something different.

In 1876, Seago opened the first dry goods store in the area. Made from the timber on his land, it had an inventory of groceries and items worth 200 dollars. The store became so popular that it became a center for social interaction.

B. F. Peak constructed the first cotton gin that same year as the town's founding. Because cotton was the area's most important crop, two others were later built. Clarence Murphey operated one for the North Texas Gin Company while Bob Randerson managed the second for the Southern Gin Company.


The settlers decided to form a town in 1879 and called it Seago in honor of the storekeeper.

J. T. Doss built a new schoolhouse in 1880, which earned the knick name Woodside for reasons unknown. Although the building had a frame structure, split logs were still used for seats to go with the desks. Woodside eventually faced abandonment in favor of a four-room building, the actual date remaining a mystery.

During the year of Woodside's grand opening, the Texas Trunk Railroad arrived in town and changed everything. Beforehand, farmers had to ship and receive their goods using barges on the Trinity River. This meant loading wagons and traveling six miles southward to the river locks. The alternative was a long road to the north. Operating between Dallas and Kaufman, the rails provided a faster means of transportation. The Texas Trunk Railroad later merged with the Texas and New Orleans Railroad.

The town established its post office in 1881 and made Tillman Seago the first post master. The following year, members organized First Methodist Church and held services in Woodside until they built a structure four years later. In 1883, Dallas County officials gave the town of Seago its first official plat, a map showing the various divisions of land. The population reached eighty-five by 1890.

J. L. Fly erected a general store that year, providing farm supplies to the public. He also got elected to serve as Justice of the Peace while son Ben became a county judge for Dallas.

The year of 1894 brought the emergence of two buildings. Friendship Baptist Church replaced its old structure and hosted a music school at the new location twelve years later. Meanwhile, E. A. Thompson and his family donated land at the intersection of Malloy Bridge Road and Kaufman Street to be the new location for First Methodist Church.

Made out of brick, the town's first bank opened its doors in 1905. The first newspaper was published two years later with W. S. McCauley as its editor.

The local school, which now had an enrollment of 166 students, burned down in 1909. Ben H. Fly donated some land on North Kaufman Street for a new building. At a cost of 10,000 dollars, the two-storied brick school had four rooms on each floor, the lower one hosting the lower grades and the upper housing the higher grades. Although the place catered to children of all educational levels, people called it the High School. It later became known as the Old Red School House.

In 1910, the U. S. Post Office forced the town to change its name to Seagoville. This was done to eliminate any confusion with another Texas city called Sego.

M. B. Hawthorne established Farmers Guaranty Bank in 1912. It eventually merged with the First State Bank of Seagoville, resulting in the shortening of the name to First State Bank. The year also provided a new building for the First Methodist Church to replace the old one. Rev. O. E. Moreland became its first pastor. The biggest event, however, was the addition of an artesian well.

The city of Seagoville started a fundraiser and managed to raise $3,000 for the project by selling fifty-dollar shares. A man named Mr. Weatherford came from the town Ferris to drill the well, which ended up having a depth of 1,700 feet. Although the main pipe led to a trough near the intersection of Kaufman Street and Elm Street, a cut-off valve allowed people to drive their trucks or wagons beneath the pipe and fill their empty barrels with water. The citizens continued to use the well until man-made lakes arrived on the scene.

In 1914, the local newspaper changed its name to the Seagoville News with Red R. Kreiger as its editor. A. H. McWhorter built and operated the town's first movie theater, which was called the Happy Hour Theater. He also owned a grocery store and dry goods store. At the same time, a man named M. P. Hawthorne constructed five brick buildings. Other businesses in the community included two hardwood stores, two drug stores, a lumberyard, a cotton gin, four grocery stores, five general stores, two restaurants, and a blacksmith shop. The total population had reached 300.

A telephone exchange started providing service to the city in 1921. Located across from the train depot, the center was operated by a woman named Miss Marshall. However, there were only sixteen subscribers. Electricity arrived in Seagoville first received electricity in 1925 and filed a second plat the following year when it became incorporated.

Government officials bought some land on North Kaufman Street belonging to Reagan Hasthorne for the purpose of building Seagoville High School. At a cost ranging from sixty to seventy thousand dollars, the place opened in 1928. Not only did it serve as a school, but it also acted as a community center. A dragon became the mascot of choice and the official colors were white and naval blue. Published by the students, the first school newspaper was called the Boll Weevil.

The congregation of Friendship Baptist Church renamed the building to First Baptist Church of Seagoville during 1929. The year also witnessed the population reaching 650. Unfortunately, news of this milestone was marred by the arrival of the Great Depression.

The crash of the stock market had a devastating effect on the city economy. Out of the twenty-businesses, only twelve remained four years into the depression. The telephone exchange now resided inside a small house on Kaufman Street. First State Bank met its demise in 1932, forcing the residents to do their banking in Crandall. To help alleviate hardships, a federal program called the Reconstruction Finance Corporation established the Seagoville Community Cannery. A further boost to the local economy came when Gibson Discount Stores moved its headquarters to Seagoville and built a warehouse there.

Needing more facilities to handle the growing number of female criminals, the Department of Justice instructed the Bureau of Prisons to build some new quarters. In response, a minimum-security correctional institute was constructed in Seagoville during the late 1930s. The Federal Reformatory for Women opened its doors in 1940, providing strong economic relief for the community. All the structures within the walls were made using bricks and had a limestone trim on top. Each two-story dormitory had at least forty rooms but no more than sixty-eight. In addition to the sleeping quarters, all six buildings had a kitchen, laundry, living room, dining room, and bathroom. The residents also made use of another two-story building, which had an auditorium, library, and some classrooms. Despite all the effort put into making the women's prison a reality, it didn't last for very long.


The attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent declaration of war filled people with anger and anxiety, both emotions being directed toward the Germans, Japanese and Italians. Anyone belonging to these ethnic groups were treated with strong suspension. Fearing that the enemy might use them to spy on the United States, the government began the process of arresting citizens to ship them back to their native country. Detention camps were set up as temporary quarters until deportation, three of them located in state of Texas. Officials sent the families to Crystal City and the men to Kenedy while Seagoville became the place for single women and married couples.

In April 1942, the Immigration and Naturalization Service took control of the women's prison and renamed it the Seagoville Enemy Alien Detention Station. Throughout its operation, the facility hosted between 500 and 700 people. The residents were mainly Japanese and German, but some Italians found their way into the camp.Although the majority of the prisoners were American citizens, a large percentage came from Latin America to be deported. Those crossing the border tended to be men forced from their homes into captivity. The wives, called voluntary detainees, often joined their spouses out of economic necessity. An influx of prisoners from South America forced the Seagoville camp to construct fifty temporary houses which were called victory huts. Each one had a dining room, bathroom, and laundromat in addition to the sleeping quarters.

Facing the inevitable task of increasing resources to guard prisoners of war, the State Department started the process of deporting those who had been sent from Latin America in June 1943. The task was completed four months later. However, the camp still continued to hold single women and childless couples.

The detainment in Seagoville came to an end in June 1945 when the Immigration and Naturalization Service sent all the residents to the camp in Crystal City. Ownership of the place went back to the Bureau of Prisons, which transformed it into a minimum-security center for male criminals.


The city of Seagoville emerged from the second world war with a growing economy, evidenced by its forty-five businesses and the new artesian well. By 1948, the population had reached 2,000.

Five people got together and opened Seagoville State Bank in 1952, which allowed the citizens to receive local economic services for the first time in twenty years. Located on Kaufman Street, the bank became the property of a man named M. D. Reeves. He donated 22 acres to the city for development purposes. This gift became the home of a junior high school in 1955. Two years later, Seagoville High School burned to the ground. From these ashes, an elementary school was built. The year of 1958 brought the arrival of a new high school, which was positioned right next to the junior high. In August 1964, the Seagoville school system was merged into the Dallas Independent School District.

The Seagoville prison narrowed its purpose in 1969 by only accepting young male criminals under the age of 28.

The city hall moved from West Elm Street to a new municipal building at the intersection of Highway 175 and Farmers Road in March 1975. It was accompanied by a police substation and local library.

During 1979, the prison removed its age limits and a new sewage treatment plant was built. The year also witnessed the opening of an army reserve center on Simonds Road. It started off as a training facility but expanded to include a medical center. The biggest event, however, was the city's celebration of its one hundredth birthday.

Starting in 1980, a rancher named John Bunker Sands began the process of restoring wetlands and making new ones. The owner of the Rosewood Corporation, he developed over 2,000 acres to help migratory birds, conserve water, and restore natural resources. Those which were man-made relied upon a levee system. His efforts proved to be a complete success. The area was named the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center and later had an educational facility added to it.

The Seagoville prison had a perimeter fence installed in 1981 and became a federal correctional institution. Ten years later, the city population reached 9,100.

Covering 334 acres and featuring a twelve-acre lake, Poss Oak Preserve opened in 1993 and became one of the largest ones in Dallas County. It also contained one of the few remnants of the Post Oak Savannah. Three miles of trails and an educational center were eventually added.

In October 1995, Seagoville State Bank purchased Buckner State Bank, which was located on North Buckner and Interstate 30. HomeBank became the new name of the combined institution in 1998.

The Seagoville Veterans Memorial Park opened to the public in 1999. Although the city donated the land, officials predicted a final cost of fifty thousand dollars. Half of the amount was paid through a grant from the Seagoville Economic Development Corporation while the other came from a fundraiser operated by the Lions Club. Upon its completion, the park paid tribute to local citizens who had fought in Korea, Vietnam, and the two world wars.

Wanting to cut costs to fight its budget deficit, the United States Postal Service announced in 2011 its decision to close the Seagoville office and merge it with the one in Kleberg. Even when prominent citizens expressed the desire to pay for the building's rental costs, the department refused to listen to their offers and abandoned the place.

Star Transit, a company based in Terrell, established a bus service for Seagoville in 2016. The singular route provided twelve stops during the weekdays, one of them located at a DART rail station. Even though the service was only available during the weekdays, the Seagoville Express still gave people access to public transportation so they could reach Dallas among other destinations. According to the census that year, Seagoville had a population of 16,093.

© Clint Skinner
June 27, 2018

Bibliography

  • Bop.gov
  • Dallascounty.org
  • Dallastrinitytrails.blogspot.com
  • Densho Online Encyclopedia
  • Leszcynski, Ray. "Star Transit may lose some of its shine as some cities reconsider their transportation options". Dallasnews.com
  • Moore, Jr., David W., Justin B. Edgington, and Emily T. Payne. "Blueprints for the Citizen Soldier : A Nationwide Historic Context Study of United States Army Reserve Centers". HHM, Inc. : Austin, TX, July 2008.
  • Naturefind.com
  • Phillips, Billie Frank. "Images of America : Seagoville". Arcadia Publishing : Charleston, South Carolina, 2011.
  • Seagoville.us
  • Startransit.org
  • Texasinvasives.org
  • Thc.texas.gov
  • Tpwd.texas.gov
  • Traveltexas.com
  • Tripadvisor.com
  • Tshaonline.org
  • Wetlandcenter.com
  • Wikipedia

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