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Cherokee County TX
Cherokee County

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ALTO, TEXAS

AKA Branchtown

Cherokee County, East Texas

3139'0"N 954'26"W (31.650131, -95.073810)
Hwys 69, 21 and 294, and FMs 752 and 1911
12 miles S of Rusk the county seat
31 miles N of Lufkin
25 miles W of Nacogdoches
34 miles NE of Crockett
Population: 1,225 (2010) 1,190 (2000)

Alto, Texas Area Hotels › Nacogdoches Hotels | Lufkin Hotels
Cruising timber for Blount-Decker Lumber Company of Alto, Texas, 1908
John H. Singletary cruising timber for the
Blount-Decker Lumber Company of Alto c. 1908

Photo Courtesy Arcadia Publishing and
The Cherokee County Historical Commission

History in a Pecan Shell

Robert F. Mitchell is credited with being Alto's founder sometime around 1849. The following year a post office was granted under the name of Branchtown and in 1851 Mitchell opened a store. The land was reportedly the highest point between the Angelina and Neches rivers, and so the name was changed to Alto - the Spanish word for "high" in 1852. Alto benefitted greatly from its position on the Old San Antonio Road, and grew accordingly, with all the essential businesses needed for a town to prosper.

The Kansas and Gulf Short Line Railroad arrived in the mid 1880s and towns within the Alto trading area had their populations move into town. In 1893 the town got its own newspaper (the News) and two years later the population was up to 600 Altoans. Alto incorporated in 1909.

Alto recorded its peak population just prior to the Great Depression with 1,600 people but as things worsened the population dropped to just over 1,000 by 1936. In the mid-1960s the population was almost back to the 1929 level, but it declined to 1,252 in 1990 and is presently (2017) at 1,220.
Williams Chapel AME, Alto, Texas

Williams Chapel AME in Alto
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2004

Methodist Episcopal Church , Alto, Texas
"M.E. Church"
Postcard courtesy rootsweb.com/
%7Etxpstcrd/

More Texas Churches
F.B.Guinn residence, Alto, Texas old post card
"Residence of F.B. Guinn"
Postcard courtesy rootsweb.com/
%7Etxpstcrd/

Alto, Texas

by Archie P. McDonald

Alto, Texas, in Cherokee County, is the retirement home of legendary coach Steve McCarty... But we digress. This story is about Alto, a town originally known as Branchtown located on El Camino Real, or the Old San Antonio Road, where US Highway 69 and State Highway 21 intersect south of Rusk, north of Lufkin, west of Nacogdoches, and east of Crockett. Once upon a time, those places might have been described as near Alto, for it was nearly as large as any of them... more

Alto Side Trips

  • There are several sites near Alto worth side trips >
    (From "East Texas Sunday Drives" by Bob Bowman)

  • The Mystery of Caddo Mounds >
    What is left of the mound-building Caddos is found in stone artifacts and small tools at the Caddoan Mounds State Historic Site east of Alto on Texas Highway 21, often known as El Camino Real Founded in the l960s, it is a wonderful place for a weekend family trip and to learn about the Caddos.
    (From Bob Bowman's "All Things Historical" column)
  • Caddo Mounds
  • Caddo Mounds State Historic Site by Dana Goolsby
  • mission
  • Mission Tejas State Park by Dana Goolsby
    12 miles southwest of Alto on State Highway 21
    Mission Tejas State Park fully encompasses both the rich history of East Texas and the natural wonder and beauty of the Pineywoods.

  • Alto People

    The Gift of Hannah by Bob Bowman
    "Hannah was Hannah Collie of Alto, a brave little girl who touched the hearts of thousands of people while her own heart struggled to keep her alive." more

    It was a time we must never forget by Britt Towery
    Too soon we forget the terrorism of the 1950s and 1960s. The cross-burnings, obscene telephone calls, character assassination and political intrigue on those who believed in and fought for human rights and dignity, and against bigotry, hate and indifference.I was reminded of those years when I read of the passing of a man who stood for equality for all races. Charles Wellborn... more

    First Whites by Mike Cox
    "Helena Berryman lived until March 13, 1888. She was buried in the family cemetery on the plantation. A historical marker erected in 1969 notes her enduring claim to fame, the first Anglo child born in Texas." more

    Alto Texas Forum
    Subject: M.E. Church
    Hi My name is Sandy Owen and I live in Ontario Canada. My mother's late Uncle Charles Mallory (her father's half brother) and his wife Cecelia lived in Alto for a number of years. She died in the late 1930s and and Uncle Charles died in 1943 and they are buried in Alto City Cemetery. They were members of the First Methodist Episcopal Church in the town of Alto. Upon the death of his beloved wife, he stated in his will that the Church would receive money annually for the upkeep and care of her grave. He also had built a memorial gate at the cemetery in her memory. I am wondering if this might be the same church and if the church still survives. My mother is almost 87 years old and is trying to find as much info as she can regarding her favourite uncle. Any information you could provide would be very much appreciated so that I could pass it on to my mom. Thank you for any information you might have. Sincerely Mrs. Sandy Owen, December 29, 2005

    Alto, Texas Area Towns:
    Rusk the county seat
    Lufkin | Nacogdoches | Crockett
    See Cherokee County | East Texas

    Book Hotel Here:
    Nacogdoches Hotels | Lufkin Hotels | More Hotels
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