Date: October 26, 2005
Creator: Belden, Dreanna L.
Description: Courts Under the Oaks. Henderson County was established in 1846, the year after Texas was annexed by the United States. In 1850, after previous reductions in the count's original size, the present boundaries were set by the Texas Legislature. The restructuring resulted in the need for a new county seat, and the legislature appointed a Commissioners Court to select possible sites and to conduct an election that would determine the permanent seat of government. The voters chose the property of Matthew Cartwright, a prominent east Texas landowner, for the townsite of Athens in Samuel Huffer's survey for the new County seat. This site was set aside as the public square. Before a courthouse was constructed here, early district court sessions were conducted on the square under a large shady oak tree. The first district court term, held in October 1850, was presided over by Judge Oran M. Roberts, later a Texas Supreme Court Justice and Governor of the State. Cases he heard included charges of murder, larceny, gambling, defaulting jurors and assault and battery. Begun before the development of Athens, the Courts under the Oaks reflected the democratic goals and ideals of the Pioneer Settlers of Henderson County. (1982)
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