Marshall is located on Interstate Highway 20 approximately thirty-nine miles west of Shreveport, Louisiana, in central Harrison County. Harrison County was marked off in 1839. Two years later, in an effort to influence the commissioners who were choosing a site for the county seat, Peter Whetstone offered land for a courthouse, a church, and a school. The offer was accepted, and the town, named by Isaac Van Zandt in honor of Chief Justice John Marshall, became the county seat in 1842. It was incorporated by the Texas legislature in 1844 and enlarged in 1850 to include an area of one square mile with the courthouse at the center. Marshall was the first town in Texas to have a telegraph; by 1854 the local paper had a telegraph link to New Orleans, which gave it quick access to national news. By 1860 Marshall was one of the largest and wealthiest towns in East Texas, with a population estimated at 2,000. The community had an outstanding group of lawyers and political leaders including the first and last governors of Confederate Texas, Edward Clark and Pendleton Murrah.
Marshall, encouraged by Robert W. Loughery's ultra-Southern newspaper, the Marshall Texas Republican, voted unanimously for secession in 1861. The Confederate government of Missouri located its capitol there during the war. After the fall of Vicksburg split the Confederacy in 1863, the town became a center of operations for Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith's Trans-Mississippi Department. A federal army advanced up the Red River toward the Shreveport-Marshall area in the spring of 1864, but an invasion was averted when Confederate forces won the battle of Mansfield, Louisiana, in April. During the spring of 1865, however, the army of the Trans-Mississippi Department disintegrated, and Marshall was occupied by United States troops on June 17. Reconstruction after the war was bitterly controversial, as the town became not only the base for occupying forces but the home for an office of the Freedmen's Bureau as well. White citizens angrily opposed federal authority and the influx of blacks who came seeking government protection. The whites were not satisfied until the Citizens party "redeemed" Marshall and all of Harrison County in 1878.
PARIS, MARSHALL AND SABINE PASS RAILWAY. The Paris, Marshall and Sabine Pass Railway Company was chartered on March 29, 1882, as the Marshall and Northwestern Railway Company. By charter amendments this company changed names several times, to Marshall, Jefferson and North Western Railway Company on January 8, 1883, to Marshall and Northwestern Railway Company on June 28, 1883, to Marshall, Paris and Northwestern Railway Company on November 18, 1885, and finally to Paris, Marshall and Sabine Pass Railway Company on May 7, 1888. The company's projected route was from the Red River in Lamar County through Paris to Marshall and on to the eastern edge of Harrison County on the Louisiana state line, a distance of 175 miles. A second line of 225 miles was projected between Marshall and Sabine Pass. The capital stock was $1.4 million, and the principal office was in Paris. Members of the first board of directors were D. H. Scott, John Martin, L. P. Harrison, Frank Hugh, and B. J. Baldwin, Jr., all of Paris; and William W. Heartsill and E. J. Fry, both of Marshall. The Paris, Marshall and Sabine Pass owned fifteen miles of track between Marshall and Montvale Springs that had been built by the Marshall, Paris and Northwestern in 1885 and 1886. It also operated a 3½-mile spur between Montvale Springs and Harleton, owned by the Hope Lumber Company, and built 1½ miles beyond Harleton. In 1895 the Paris, Marshall and Sabine Pass reported passenger earnings of $1,700 and freight earnings of $14,000 and owned one locomotive and fourteen cars. The company entered receivership in 1891 and was sold in 1892. In 1897 it became the Texas Southern Railway Company.
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