County Seat: Clarksville | County Population: 11,587 (2020 Census)
The Red River County Courthouse is the only intact work of architect W.H. Wilson. Completed in 1885, the building combines Renaissance Revival and Second Empire styles. The limestone courthouse includes a Mansard-roof clock tower and columns on the outside corners. The county celebrated the restoration of the courthouse interior and exterior in October 2003.
The county’s second jail, a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, was completed in 1889. Architects Maj. S. B. Haggart and Marshall Sanguinet designed the structure as a companion building to the courthouse, which had been completed five years earlier. The elaborate high Victorian Italianate styling of the old jail features finely crafted stonework and intricate metal cornices. This jail is now known as the Old Jail Museum and is managed by the Red River County Historical Society.
Red River County once encompassed all or part of 39 different counties in present Northeast Texas. In fact, Red River County is older than the State of Texas! The county was established in 1837, and in 1838 Clarksville became the county seat.
Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, and Jim Bowie all entered Texas through Red River County, hence the county’s claim as the “Gateway To Texas.”
As described by the Red River County Chamber of Commerce, “We are a visitor-friendly city rich in the history of Texas where the Old South merges with the Wild West. Many of the downtown streets around the City Square are still brick paved. Old Southern homes scattered around town sit in the shade of giant Oak, Bois d’arc, and Pecan trees.
“The First Presbyterian Church in Clarksville, formed in 1833, is the oldest Protestant congregation in Texas. Clarksville is a Texas Main Street City and a Preserve America Community.”
Visitors enjoy touring the First Presbyterian Church along with the historical home of Charles DeMorse, known as the “Father of Texas Journalism,” Miss Belle’s House, The Lennox House, and the Clarksville Cemetery, with the first burial dated back to 1838.
As detailed in one of many historical markers, five signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence hailed from Red River County: Richard Ellis, Robert Hamilton, Albert Hamilton Latimer, Samuel Price Carson, and Collin McKinney.
Red River County is home to the Lennox Woods Preserve, a 275-acre refuge for several rare species of plant and animal communities supported by the waters of Pecan Bayou, one of the largest undammed watersheds in Northeast Texas. Lennox Woods Preserve is located along State Highway 37, about 10 miles north of Clarksville, and is open to the public during daylight hours.
Last but not least, Red River County hosts a variety of annual events including the Wade T. Witmer Memorial Wild Hog Hunt, the Red River County Fair, and the Red River County Historical Society Fall Bazaar, which takes place around the county courthouse and is in its 43rd year! For more information on these and other events, go to http://redrivercoc.com/chamber/annual-events/.