The Blues Capital of Texas
|• Mayor||Bert Miller|
|• Total||8.37 sq mi (21.67 km2)|
|• Land||8.33 sq mi (21.57 km2)|
|• Water||0.04 sq mi (0.10 km2)|
|Elevation||217 ft (66 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||960.49/sq mi (370.85/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central (CST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|Area code(s)||936 Exchanges: 510,727,825,870|
|GNIS feature ID||1375099|
Navasota is a city in Grimes County, Texas, United States. Its population was estimated to be 7,715 in 2018. In 2005, the Texas Legislature designated Navasota as the "Blues Capital of Texas", in honor of the late Mance Lipscomb, a Navasota native and blues musician.
Navasota is located in southwestern Grimes County, Texas, east of the Navasota River (a tributary of the Brazos River). It is 71 miles (114 km) northwest of Houston. Texas State Highway 105 is the main east–west route that passes through the center of Navasota, leading southwest 25 miles (40 km) to Brenham and east 41 miles (66 km) to Conroe. Texas State Highway 6 passes north–south through the eastern side of the city as a four-lane bypass, leading northwest 22 miles (35 km) to College Station and south 21 miles (34 km) to Hempstead.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.4 square miles (19.1 km2), of which 0.04 square miles (0.1 km2), or 0.47%, is water.
French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, misguided in his 1687 attempt to locate the Mississippi River and trying to find his way back to French-held lands near the Great Lakes, came through the area which would become Navasota. It was there that La Salle was murdered by one of his men. After numerous voyages, explorations of the Mississippi River valley, trading ventures and several mutinies, La Salle's bones are believed to have found their resting place in the Navasota Valley.
Navasota was founded by European Americans in 1831 as a stagecoach stop named "Nolansville". Its name was changed in 1858 to Navasota, a name perhaps derived from the Native American word nabatoto ("muddy water").
After September 1859, when the Houston and Texas Central Railway built rails through the town, Navasota became an important shipping and marketing center for the surrounding area. When the nearby historic town of Washington-on-the-Brazos resisted railway, it forfeited its geographic advantage and began to decline after many of its businesses and residents began to migrate to the new railhead 7 miles (11 km) to the northeast across the Brazos River at Navasota.
Slavery was integral to the local economy. Planters depended on enslaved African Americans to provide labor for their large cotton plantations. The slaves were brought to the city and sold in the domestic slave trade. They worked primarily in the cotton fields, which were a major commodity crop in the area. Guns were made in nearby Anderson. Cotton, gunpowder, and shoes were made, processed, and stored in Anderson for the Confederacy during the American Civil War.
By 1865, the population of Navasota was about 2,700. Throughout the Civil War, all the marketable goods produced in the region were brought to Navasota, which at the time was the furthest inland railhead in Texas. Such goods were shipped south by rail to Galveston, where they could be transported by steamboat along the Texas coast and up the Mississippi River to the war effort, or exported to Mexico or overseas to Europe.
Navasota suffered a series of disasters in the mid-1860s that severely depleted its population. In 1865, a warehouse filled with cotton and gunpowder exploded after it was torched by returning Confederate soldiers. The blast killed a number of people and started a fire that destroyed much of the original downtown. Many buildings were damaged, including the post office. Not long afterward, the town was struck by a deadly cholera epidemic. That was followed in 1867 by an even more dangerous epidemic of yellow fever. Many Navasota citizens, including the mayor, fled to escape the disease, and the town's population dropped by about 50 percent.
In the late 1860s the KKK spread into Navasota, prompting a tense confrontation between federal soldiers and a crowd of local whites on one occasion.
Navasota was considered such a "wild and woolly" place that women and children were discouraged from going downtown even in broad daylight. The downtown buildings were overrun with lawless ruffians, gamblers, prostitutes, and drunks. Lawmen had to hide and watch, and often were afraid of the streets at night. There were many saloons and gaming halls to entertain the cowboys, railroad men, and others on the loose. Every Sunday morning the undertaker hitched up a buggy and went downtown to collect the bodies he expected to find after another wild Saturday night.
Perhaps the greatest and most publicized violence in the town occurred around the turn of the century, during the decline of the Populist Party in Grimes County and the re-election efforts of Populist candidate Garrett Scott for County Sheriff. A man who spent his entire life in Grimes County, Scott had great charm and political skill. He also worked extremely well with the black population. Since before the Civil War, the population majority of the county had been black, due to the planters' dependence on slavery. Few freedmen had relocated from the area following emancipation.
This would change in 1900, when the White Man's Union (WMU) began to attack blacks with mobs from Grimes and surrounding counties. Despite resentment by much of the white population, Scott had been reelected several times and had served as sheriff for the better part of two decades. During this time a number of black Republican candidates also succeeded in their election efforts.
An all-white mob flooded into Anderson, Texas on November 7, 1900, where they killed Emmett Lee Scott, John I. Bradley, and many unnamed black residents of the county. The only WMU participant to die was William McDonald, the son of Judge McDonald. McDonald shot Emmett Lee Scott point blank in the face as Scott entered Bradley's establishment. Bradley (Emmett Lee Scott's best friend) shot McDonald in retaliation and was then shot himself in return fire. The only non-WMU witness to this gun battle was a severely traumatized teenage Scott girl.
Other assailants affiliated with the WMU hid in the courthouse and other buildings, not showing their identities. A gunman in the courthouse cupola shot Sheriff Scott as he crossed the street in front of the jail. The Sheriff's niece, Nealy Tuck, came out of the jail and threw herself over him to protect him from the bullets that rained down from unseen assailants in the courthouse.
The assassination attempt failed initially, as Scott was dragged to the jail and survived. He and a large portion of his extended family were pinned down in the jail for many days by constant gunfire. Scott's aunt, Elizabeth Rowan Scott Neblett, implored the governor to intervene. So did Scott's father, John Newton Scott, and his two surviving brothers, postmaster James D. Scott and Navasota lawman John H. Scott. They sent urgent telegrams to the governor explaining how many men and women were "pinned down" in the Anderson Jail with no hope of leaving alive without State Militia assistance.
When the militia arrived, the wounded men were carried by wagon to Navasota, and then to Houston by train. The women protected them on the way; the WMU gunmen refrained from killing the Scott women.
Scott was badly wounded and would later die of complications that developed while he and his family were trapped in the jail, but he survived long enough to divest his land in the county and to bring a successful lawsuit against every merchant in the county. The lawsuit was the only way to oppose the secret membership of the WMU; after Nov 7, 1900, a white man trying to do business in the county had to belong to the WMU. No murder or assault charges were ever filed.
Following this battle, blacks migrated from Grimes County to north Texas and beyond into Oklahoma; so many left that the following season the planters nearly lost their cotton crop due to lack of workers. The county sponsored newspaper ads in the Dallas area beseeching former black residents to return to their "homes" in Grimes County.
In 1908, Navasota was still a Wild West boomtown: according to one source, "shootouts on the main street were so frequent that in two years at least a hundred men had died". Famed lawman Frank Hamer, then 24 years old, was hired from the Texas Rangers to become the City Marshal. Hamer moved in and imposed law and order, prosecuting Navasota criminals until the town became safe again. He served as marshal until 1911. Hamer became more widely known in 1934 as a leader of the posse that hunted down and fatally shot Bonnie and Clyde. In 2012, the City of Navasota commissioned local sculptor Russell Cushman to design and create a statue of Frank Hamer, which is now on display in front of the city hall building.
As of 2018, the population of the town was an estimated 7,715 people. The industrial sector of the community boasts 23 companies and over 1,200 jobs. In 2009, Navasota was selected as a "Visionaries in Preservation" city by the Texas Historical Commission to protect the numerous historic structures in the city. A new municipal building was completed in 2011 and continued downtown improvements are under construction, with completion scheduled for 2023.
In 2012, Navasota Municipal Airport completed an expansion of its runway to 5,000 feet (1,500 m) long by 75 feet (23 m) wide and is now able to accommodate jets on the runway.
The city of Navasota earned a 2011 Gold Leadership Award from the Texas Comptroller's Office for efforts in transparency. Its application scored 17 of 20 points. Navasota was one of 70 (out of over a thousand) cities in Texas to receive the Gold status. It also received the award in 2013.
In 2012, Navasota was named by the Union Pacific Railroad as "Train Town USA".
In August 2013, Navasota was named a Go Texan "Certified Retirement Community" by the Texas Department of Agriculture.
Navasota is served by the weekly Navasota Examiner newspaper, which has been reporting on Grimes County since 1894. The city is also home to the Willy 98.7 FM and 1550 AM radio stations, which are owned and managed by Bryan Broadcasting in Bryan, Texas. Willy 98.7 is a classic country station with local programming that includes the Navasota News and live broadcasts of Navasota Rattlers football games.
In 2013, the British documentary project known as Vague Direction visited Navasota and interviewed local residents Misslette The Singing Cowgirl and hog trapper Steve Stribling.
Navasota has many shops and artisans in its historic downtown district, including antique, gift, and boutique stores and art galleries housed in old classic stone and brick structures. Live plays are performed regularly at the Sunny Furman Theatre. The city also has golfing facilities and parks as well as wineries.
Navasota retains a number of historic Victorian homes on Washington Avenue, the main residential and commercial thoroughfare through town.
Another attraction is the historic Brule Field, a natural amphitheater built out of native stone by the Great Depression-era Works Progress Administration. It served as the primary grid for the local high school football team, the Navasota Rattlers, until the new stadium was constructed in 2006. Several native-stone churches also remain near downtown, with distinctive Victorian fronts.
The city is home to two statues of French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, including a bronze monument, dedicated in 1936 by the DAR, to celebrate the travels of the famous French explorer. The second is a stone bust that was previously in downtown, and was rededicated by the French consulate in May 2012 at nearby August Horst Park. The bust was donated to the city by the French government in 1978.
Each spring, Navasota is a popular destination for its bluebonnet fields, the state flower of Texas. A statue of Mance Lipscomb is now a part of Mance Lipscomb Park, near downtown. A statue of Frank Hamer stands in front of city hall, honoring the time he served as city marshal. Local artist and sculptor Russell Cushman designed and built the bronze statue. Other attractions include art galleries, the Horlock House Artists-in-Residence program and museum, live music venues, food truck parks and several murals that present great selfie locations for area visitors. Seasonal festivals attract crowds each year, with live music being a large part of the draw.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2010, 7,049 people, 2,206 households, and 1,726 families reside in the city. The population density was 1,109.7 people per square mile (428.3/km2). The 2,805 housing units averaged 435.0 per square mile (167.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 52.4% White, 38.4% Hispanic or Latino, 30.6% African American, 0.5% Native American, 0.4% Asian, and 2.1% from two or more races.
Of the 2,206 households, 37% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.5% were married couples living together, 20.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29% were not families. About 25.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.39.
In the city, 30.7% of the population was under the age of 18, 10.6% were between 18 to 24, 26.7% were between 25 to 44, 18.0% were between 45 to 64, and 12.6% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32.9 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $38,000, and for a family was $31,875. Males had a median income of $28,585 versus $21,731 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,564. About 23.8% of families and 23.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.7% of those under age 18 and 24.0% of those age 65 or over.
The United States Postal Service operates the Navasota Post Office.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) operates the O.L. Luther Unit and the Wallace Pack Unit in an unincorporated area in Grimes County near Navasota. In addition, the Pack Warehouse is located in an unincorporated area near the Pack Unit.
The Navasota Independent School District includes five traditional campuses and one academic alternative school campus. All campuses received a Met Standard rating from the Texas Education Agency. Navasota High School earned a distinction in ELA/Reading and exceeded state targets in Student Progress, Student Achievement, Closing Performance Gaps, and Post-Secondary Readiness. Navasota Junior High exceeded state targets in Student Progress and Post-Secondary Readiness. John C. Webb Elementary exceeded state targets in Student Progress and Post-Secondary Readiness. Brule Elementary exceeded state targets in Student Progress, Closing Performance Gaps, and Post-Secondary Readiness. High Point Elementary earned distinctions in ELA/Reading, Mathematics, Top 25 Percent Closing Gaps, Top 25 Percent Student Progress, and Post-Secondary Readiness. High Point Elementary exceeded state targets in Student Progress, Student Achievement, Closing Performance Gaps, and Post-Secondary Readiness.
NISD offers instructional support for learners through a variety of programs such as Advanced Academics/GT, Dual Credit College Classes, Dyslexic Services, English as a Second Language Support, Program 504 Support, Special Services for needs such as speech, learning disabilities, and other health impairments, Pre-Kindergarten Classes, Tiered Supports through RtI, and an Academic Alternative School.
The average student to teacher ratio is 14:1.
School organizations and athletics available to students include Business Professionals of America, FFA, Student Council, National Honor Society, Theatre, Choir, Kickstart, Band, Bass Fishing, FCA, Skills USA, Library Club, Boyz II Men, Princess Code, UIL Academics, One Act Play, HOSA-Future Health Science Professionals, Spanish Club, Family Career and Community Leaders of America, Football, Volleyball, Cross Country, Drill Team, Cheer, Basketball, Golf, Tennis, Baseball, Softball, Powerlifting, Soccer, and Track.
In 1990, the boys basketball team won the 3A state championship with a 35-0 record after beating Gainesville and Lamesa at the state tournament played at the University of Texas’ Frank Erwin Center.
The Navasota Rattlers were 3A Div. II State Football Champions in 2012 and 4A Div. I State Football Champions in 2014.