in a Pecan Shell
The town dates
from 1825 when Elisha Henry Roberts Wallis settled just east of what
would become known as Wallisville. After San
Jacinto, Mexican Dictator Santa Anna spent the night at the Wallis
family home on his way to Washington, D.C.
Wallis’ sons platted the town in 1854 and three years later the community
was granted a post office. It served as the Chambers County seat from
1858 through 1908.
In 1858 Wallisville tried to lure the railroad to pass through the
town, but it chose Liberty instead.
Wallisville did have a steamboat landing, however, which provided
contact with the outside world.
The Chambers County courthouse was burned by arsonists in 1875. –
the same year the community was struck by a hurricane. A substantial
replacement was finished in 1886 and nine years later the town built
a jail and erected a tower for the sole purpose of hanging criminals.
A newspaper valled “the Age” was first published in 1897 and was the
first for Chambers County. In the opening days of the 20th century
the town had all essential businesses including a skating rink and
an ice cream parlor.
The principal industries of Wallisville were shipbuilding and lumbering
until a 1915 hurricane seriously curtailed both.
Neighboring Anahuac sought a county
seat election in 1906 and it was approved the following year but contested
by Wallisville. In August of 1908 the county records were transferred
to Anahuac. (See Wallisville
Goes Hog Wild by Wanda Orton)
In 1979 the Wallisville Heritage Park was organized and five years
later the townsite was added to the National Register of Historic
It's just a short distance (less than 1/2 a mile) from the original
townsite. The foundation of the jail is still supposed to be at the
original site. The old schoolhouse
is just to the right of the post office building and Wallisville historical
Wallisville historical marker on post office grounds
TE photo 2003
Site of Old
Settled in 1825
by Elisha H. R. Wallis, a pioneer from Georgia, on land in grant of
Joseph Vehlein, a contractor working to place colonists in Texas.
Chambers County was organized in 1858; Wallisville was made county
seat. A post office was granted in 1859, and town became a thriving
Many county records were burned in a courthouse fire in 1875. A brick
and stone courthouse, with a jail and an unique hanging tower (for
executions) was completed in 1886. By 1900 the town had 728 people,
a shipyard, a lumber yard, a cotton gin, a skating rink, several stores
and an export house. By land, there was daily hack service to Liberty;
and sloops made regular runs from here to Galveston.
Chambers County's first newspaper, "Wallisville Age," was published
here. the town remained county seat until 1908 when the courthouse
was moved to Anahuac after the famous
"County Seat Hog War" over issue of letting animals roam at
large. In that year Wallisville lost few people, but in 1915 a storm
almost destroyed the town.
Part of the historic townsite is now included in Wallisville Reservoir,
constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
restored 1869 school house, now sitting in the Wallisville Heritage
Park, served as the courthouse after the county's first courthouse
burned down in 1875." - Terry
Jeanson, October 2010
The 1886 Chambers
courthouse was constructed of brick and stone in the Renaissance Revival
style by contractor August Baumbach. A brick jail was built nearby
in 1894 with a tower for the gallows that was never used. The design
of the jail was almost exactly the same as the historic 1892 Crockett
County jail still standing in Ozona,
TX. A dispute over roaming livestock in Wallisville, known as
the "County Seat Hog War," led to an election that relocated the county
seat to Anahuac in 1908. A 1915 hurricane
almost destroyed Wallisville and severely damaged the courthouse and
jail buildings. The 1894 jail was torn down and the 1886 courthouse
was finally demolished in 1948." - Terry
Chambers County courthouse in Wallisville
Photo courtesy of the Wallisville Heritage Park.
plate in the current courthouse shows the 1894 Chambers County jail
(top left) and the 1886 Chambers County courthouse (bottom right.)
Photo courtesy Terry
Jeanson, October 2010
Albert Gallatin Van Pradelles (1808-1884) set aside land at this
site for the burial of his grandson, William M. "Willie" Chambers,
who died on his third birthday on December 10, 1878. the land surrounding
the grave was established as a legal cemetery in county deed records
the following month. Field notes by county surveyor Daniel B. Wallis
along with other deed work set up a total of sixteen family lots
in January 1879. Several locally prominent families were among those
who purchased the original sixteen plots, including the van Pradelles,
Chambers, Gordon, Wooten, Sisson, Mayes, and LaFour families. In
1884 a. G. van Pradelles became the fourth known burial in the cemetery
he established. Among the stately monuments and shade trees can
be found the tombstones of numerous elected county officials and
Cemetery has been expanded several times since Van Pradelles laid
out the site in 1879. The cemetery land remained in the van Pradelles
family for over 100 years until 1986, when a descendant entrusted
it to the Wallisville Cemetery Association for care and administration.
Chambers County Postal Map showing Wallisville
(Above "A" in "CHAMBERS")
Courtesy Texas General Land Office
is featured in T. Lindsay Baker's "More Ghost Towns of Texas."
in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas,
asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic
photos, please contact