Jacksonville, one of the earliest towns in Washington County, was in the southeastern part of the county some three or four miles north of the site of present Chappell Hill and twelve miles from Washington-on-the-Brazos. Map location (above) approximate.
In 1839 or 1840 Jacksonville was founded and named for one of three Jackson families who had been among the earliest settlers in the area-possibly for the three brothers Isaac, Alexander, and Humphrey Jackson, members of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred. The town's name may also honor Terrell Jackson, a rich plantation owner in the area. Members of a local Jackson family built the earliest sawmill in Washington County on New Year's Creek to take advantage of local waterpower and the plentiful supply of cedar trees, which made very durable building material. This sawmill stimulated Jacksonville's development into a town by attracting customers from the entire county. The town's population and commercial importance increased when residents constructed a wide road linking the settlement to a Brazos River steamboat landing. Jacksonville's inland location may have aided its further growth because the area closer to the Brazos River was marshy and frequently malarial. By serving as a transit point for Brazos River shipping between inland areas and the Gulf Coast, Jacksonville prospered, and a business district grew up there of stores, warehouses, and a tavern. Eventually the town obtained the majority of all trade from the area steamboat traffic, and for a time Jacksonville was the most populous town in the county. A Baptist congregation, led by the Rev. Hosea Garrett, constructed a church on the outskirts of town. Jacksonville residents included the Shepard family, later famous in Texas jurisprudence, and Dr. J. S. Shepard, a physician who lived in the town in 1850. In the 1840s Jacksonville was a stop on the stage route between Washington (later Washington-on-the-Brazos) and La Grange, Fayette County. Weekly horse races brightened the social life. Continue Reading Jacksonville History from the Handbook of Texas Online >>
Jacksonville, which took its name from Terrell Jackson, a wealthy planter of that settlement, was one of the oldest towns in Washington County, and was situated about three or four miles north of Chappell Hill. It is said that well educated and good people lived there, and that there were prosperous merchants whose business houses were well built. Most of the commerce was carried on by steamboats, which plied up and down the Brazos River. Quite a broad and straight street was laid out through the main part of the town and this was called the avenue. Only the very oldest inhabitants are able to recall the days of Jacksonville's departed glory — for there is not a vestige of the old town left. - The History of Brenham and Washington County, 1915 by Mrs. R. E. Pennington