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Corsicana (Navarro County)

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Corsicana was established in 1848 as the county seat of newly created Navarro County and named for the island of Corsica, the birthplace of the parents of Jose A. Navarro, hero of the Texas Revolution. Land for the town was donated and platted by early settler David Mitchell. The community experienced tremendous growth with the arrival of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad in 1871. Nine years later, the completion of the Texas and St. Louis Railway brought Corsicana into competition with Waxahachie for the role of primary trading and shipping center in the Blackland Prairie region south of Dallas.

In 1894, oil was discovered during the drilling of artesian wells to boost the city’s water supply. The state’s first refinery and storage tanks were soon built, and by 1900 commercial production had escalated to a peak of 840,000 barrels. The oil boom transformed Corsicana from an agricultural shipping point to a flourishing oil, industrial, and commercial center. In 1905 a new county courthouse (CW4) was completed as a capstone to the economic boom.

In 1923, two wells in the six-square-mile Powell Oil Field to Corsicana’s east came in as gushers, inaugurating a second feverish drilling cycle that was soon outproducing Pennsylvania and nine other oil states. Prosperity was reflected in the construction of houses for the new oil millionaires. Although annual production decreased by the end of the decade, the oil industry mitigated the effects of the Great Depression on the area’s economy. The buildings and residences constructed in Corsicana’s business district and elite neighborhoods between 1895 and 1930 are testimony to this period of remarkable affluence and commercial expansion. The county has the longest continuous oil flow in Texas, producing over 200 million barrels since 1895. Corsicana’s claim to cultural fame is the Collin Street Bakery with its legendary DeLuxe Fruitcake, a recipe brought from Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1896.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.

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