in a Pecan Shell
Cotton planters established a community here
sometime before the Civil War but it wasn’t until 1888 when a post office was
James C. Brady could be considered the town “founder” since he
was the primary businessman. Brady ran the community store as well as a grist
mill and cotton gin.
By the mid 1890s, Jumbo had two churches and a school
– but no estimate of population. The post office closed in 1912, but it appears
on the 1907 post office map.
schoolmerged with the school in Gary in the 1940s
and the few residents that inhabited the area filtered into neighboring towns
or left the area in search of work. By the 1990s, Jumbo was no longer seen as
a community and was downgraded to a “dispersed rural community.”
The forgotten towns of East
Texas got their names from a variety of ways--from people, places, events...even
But Jumbo, in Panola County, is the only town to
be named for an elephant.
The town was settled by cotton planters before
the Civil War years, but it wasn’t until 1885 when James C. Brady established
a cotton gin, a general store and a grist mill, and the community began to grow.
In 1888, Brady secured a post office for the expanding community and the community
began to think about a name.
P.T. Barnum’s traveling circus, which made a tour in Panola and surrounding counties
between 1882 and 1885, someone suggested that the community be named for one of
its star attractions, Jumbo, an elephant billed by Barnum as the largest African
elephant in captivity.
In the 1800s, the circus would have traveled in
East Texas on the old Houston, East
and West Texas Railroad, sometimes called “Hell
Either Way Taken,’ after the line was built from Houston
to Shreveport in the early l880s. The tracks ran through dozens of small towns
not far from the Jumbo community, such as Timpson,
Tenaha, Bobo and Blair.
Barnum, bought Jumbo from the London Zoo for $10,000, an enormous sum
of money in the 1880s. Standing twelve feet high and weighing six and a half tons,
Jumbo quickly became a huge attraction.
the Elephant at the Zoo
| In 1888, as would-be
town namers in the little community near the Panola-Rusk county line suggested
names, Jumbo would have been fresh on their mind because of the circus’ visit
and, more importantly, because of Jumbo’s untimely death in 1885.|
accident in Ontario, Canada, ended Jumbo’s life when an unscheduled freight train
hit him while Barnum’s circus was loading in the freight yards.
derailed the freight train and 150 people were required to haul the elephant’s
body up an embankment. Jumbo’s hide was given to Tufts College, stuffed and mounted,
and put on display in the Barnum Museum at the college, now Tufts University.
More Bob Bowman's
Panola County map showing Jumbo
of Carthage near Rusk County line
Texas General Land Office
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