Caddo Indians had been in the area around Henderson for approximately 5000 years before the early white settlers decided to make the area their home. Henderson was designated as the county seat of Rusk County in 1843, making Henderson one of the oldest towns in Texas.
Henderson was laid out with the Courthouse surrounded by the business district. As Henderson became an important commercial, cultural, and government center for the area, the city grew. In 1929 a new Art Deco Courthouse was constructed nearby. The old courthouse was destroyed, making more room for Henderson's bustling downtown.
The original settlers were farmers, cotton farmers in fact. Rusk County had 17 cotton plantations of 10,000 acres or more. Cotton was still king when oil was discovered in the 1930s.
In 1930, the East Texas Oil Field was discovered just outside Henderson. At the time, it was the largest oil field known and remained the largest discovered field until the discovery of Prudhoe Bay oil field in 1969. In fact, the East Texas Oil Field is still the second largest oil field in the United States.
Farmers plowed under their cotton fields as oil fever took hold during the 30s. East Texas prospered during Great Depression with those seeking work coming from many disparate places.
Henderson Clay Products opened for business on April 21, 1947, and grew to become one of the largest brick making businesses in the United States. The "brick plant" contributed greatly to the prosperity of Henderson.
Downtown Henderson has maintained its integrity through all of the many changes.
In 1988, Henderson was designed at Texas Main Street Project City. The entire downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the buildings have both a National Register Marker and Texas Historical Marker.
Historical Maps of Henderson
View Sanborn Maps of Henderson which are located on the University of Texas Libraries website.
- Henderson 1885
- Henderson 1890
- Henderson 1896
- Henderson 1901
- Henderson 1906