Madisonville is at the junction of State highways 21 and 90, U.S. highways 75 and 190, and Interstate Highway 45, on Town Creek in central Madison County. It was founded in 1853 as the county seat of the newly organized Madison County. Sale of lots began in the summer of 1853 on a 200-acre tract of land donated by Job Starks Collard, who had settled in the vicinity during the 1840s in what was then northern Montgomery County. At the suggestion of Dr. Pleasant Williams Kittrell, another early resident of the area, the town, like the new county, was named in honor of President James Madison. The site was chosen due to its proximity to the geographical center of the county and the availability of fresh water from a stream-fed lake northeast of the townsite. The first courthouse, made of logs, was constructed on a large square in the center of the settlement in 1854, and a post office was established the same year. By 1870 the town had developed into an agricultural trade center with a population of ninety-eight, including nine Black residents. A company of State Police was posted there in the early 1870s. The first Black school in the community was constructed in 1880. By 1884 Madisonville had a steam-powered gristmill and cotton gin, four churches, two schools, and an estimated population of 200. Allen Academy, the oldest boys' preparatory school in the state, was founded there in 1886 as the Madison Academy and remained in operation for thirteen years before moving to Bryan in 1899. The first Black church in Madisonville was erected in 1888. By 1890 the community had seven general stores, a saloon, the Watchman (published by J. P. Nall), and a population of 418. In 1894 a stately brick courthouse replaced the earlier wooden structures, and a second weekly newspaper, the Meteor, was founded the following year. By 1896 the population had risen to an estimated 700, and 187 White and 68 Black pupils were enrolled in the two local schools.

In 1903 the International-Great Northern Railroad completed a branch line from Navasota to Madisonville. In 1904 Madisonville had an estimated population of 833; the figure climbed to 1,079 in 1925 and 1,294 in 1930, when the town had ninety-five businesses. The first paved roadway, State Highway 90, was constructed in 1929, and State Highway 21 and U.S. 75 were completed in the early 1930s. Thereafter, truck and bus transportation progressively supplanted rail traffic, until the International-Great Northern was forced to abandon its Navasota-Madisonville line in 1944. The Civilian Conservation Corps maintained a camp on the western edge of town from 1935 to 1941. In 1935 there were 467 White and 129 Black pupils enrolled in the two schools of the Madisonville Independent School District. By 1940 the town's population had grown to 2,095. Although many residents left during World War II in search of defense-related employment in Houston and other metropolitan areas, population growth was sustained by an influx of Blacks from rural portions of the county; Madisonville's Black population surged from 142 in 1940 to 927 in 1948, and by 1950 the overall population had risen to 2,393. After this influx subsided, however, the town's population declined slightly over the ensuing decade before growth resumed in the late 1960s.

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Charles Christopher Jackson | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Collard's is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Collard's is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • (Madisonville)

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated