County Seat: Madisonville * County Population: 13,105 (Texas Almanac 2004-05)
Completed in 1970, the Madison County Courthouse was designed by Dickson, Dickson, Buckley & Bullock in a Modern style and fashioned of concrete and brick. The previous county capitol burned in 1967.
The first Madison County, created in 1842, was one of the judicial counties that eventually were declared unconstitutional. The present Madison County was created in 1853 and named after James Madison, U.S. president and author of the Constitution.
Located in central East Texas, Madison County includes approximately 473 square miles of primarily post oak savannah, a mixture of post oak woods and grasslands, according to The Handbook of Texas Online. About one-fifth of the area is timbered.
Lakes, covering more than 180,000 acres of Madison County, include Lake Madison, Lake Limestone, Gibbons Creek Reservoir, Lake Conroe, Lake Somerville and Lake Livingston.
While Madison and its county seat of Madisonville offer a small-town ambience, the area is within three hours of more than 16 million people including the cities of San Antonio, Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, and the state of Louisiana. Some call Madisonville the “gateway to Bryan/College Station,” which is a short 35 minutes away.
The area that is now Madison County has long been known as an important travel route, dating back to 1690. The El Camino Real and the La Bahia Trail, two of the state’s oldest thoroughfares used by early French and Spanish explorers, cross Madison County and converge at Midway.
The county history includes several unique happenings:
v Some historians believe Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, may have been murdered in 1687 near the current day Madisonville.
v Survivors of the Gutierrez-Magee expedition were executed at the Spanish Bluff, located east of Midway.
v The first permanent settler in what would later become Madison County was Major W.B. (Billy) Young of South Carolina, who came to the area in the late 1820s. Young eventually became famous at the battle of San Jacinto, where he fought with honor. Records indicate that Young was the first to shout “Remember the Alamo” and “Remember Goliad,” now famous Texas battle cries.
v Settlers in the future Madison County were witnesses to the Runaway Scrape in 1836, when citizens of Texas hurried toward the Trinity River in an effort to escape the advance of Santa Anna. Many heard of the victory at San Jacinto and turned back before they crossed the river.
Along with historic sites and lake activities, Madison County offers visitors and homefolks a weekend of special events at the annual Texas Mushroom Festival. This year’s lineup, Oct. 15-16, will include mushroom-growing and cooking demonstrations, wine tasting, a silent and live art auction featuring works donated by local artists, and more.