Monday, September 22, 2014

Panola County Historical & Genealogical Association is now housed in the Old Panola County Jail Museum and Genealogy Library

213 North Shelby • Carthage, Texas 75633
(903) 693-3388

Panola County, adapted from the Cherokee word for cotton, ponolo, is located in northeastern Texas. Carthage is the county seat. In 1846, the Texas Legislature incorporated Panola County from pieces of Shelby and Harrison counties. Two years later (1848), Panola County chose Carthage as its seat. Various tribes of the Caddo Indians inhabited the area until European advancement in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
During the fifteen years before the Civil War, the county expanded in size and diversified its economic infrastructure through the sale of cotton, sweet potatoes, and livestock. After the war and through the 1920s, Panola County began to stabilize and recover, primarily through the cotton and logging industries. Railroads created additional jobs and helped to build the county's infrastructure. Throughout the 1920s, the county's population decreased slightly, but cotton helped stabilize the uncertain market.
After the Great Depression, the population declined because of a sharp nosedive in property values and available land. The only industry that remained strong through the depression, cotton, took a permanent hit and never recovered. After World War II, Panola County's population decreased over the next several decades because of a combination of permanent decreased land values and decline of the cotton industry. However, by the 1960s and 1970s, the county government worked hard to reinvigorate the depleted soil, but the oil and gas industry became the prominent economy force in the 1970s.

Panola County Historical and
Genealogical Association
The Leila Belle LaGrone 
Family History Center

213 North Shelby
Carthage, Texas 75633
(903) 693-3388

Our History

The Panola County Historical and Genealogical Association
(PCHGA) was founded by ordinary people in the community
 who had an interest in family and local history and who 
wanted to preserve our heritage. So, they met and formed 
PCHGA to serve those ends.

The charter members were all volunteers, so they asked 
Panola County to give them a long-term lease on the old 
1891 Panola County jail which was no longer in use. The 
jail use was discontinued in 1954 and the old jail had fallen
 into a state of disrepair. 

These charter members not only raised money from others, 
but also donated their own time and money, and ultimately
 rebuilt a structure  that would house history, family books 
and artifacts in a stable, controlled environment.

The upstairs of the Old Jail is now used as a museum. 
The old cells and locks are still intact. The bottom floor of 
the jail is where the jailer's family lived and where meals 
were prepared for the prisoners by the jailer's wife. The 
bottom floor now has three book rooms with a good 
representation of states, counties and family history
; a computer room with four computers for public use;
 and an office with one computer for keeping up with 
the daily affairs of PCHGA.

The PCHGA Old Jail Library is open three days per 
week: Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday afternoon. 
There is no user fee or membership  cost. Normal hours
 are from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM on Tuesday and
 Wednesday, and from 1:00 PM until 5:00 PM on Sunday.
 We invite the public to visit us during any of these times.
We have three to four volunteer staff members to assist 
you with researching your family tree  or maybe the history
 of your home county, town or state. You can also use our 
computers to research on the internet. We also welcome 
any and all tour groups.

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