Malakoff is at the junction of State highways 31 and 198 and Farm roads 2636, 3062, and 3441, eight miles west of Athens in western Henderson County. The area was first settled by Jane Irvine, a widow from Alabama, who immigrated with her family to the area before 1835 and built a gristmill on Caney Creek 1½ miles north of the site of the present town. A small community, known as Caney Creek, grew up around the mill. In 1852 the name was changed to Mitcham Chapel after a Methodist church of the same name organized by the Rev. Hezekiah Mitcham. Around 1854 the town applied for a post office under the suggested name of Mitcham or Purdon. Both names had previously been used, so postal officials in Washington suggested the name Malakoff, after a Russian fortification where the battle of Malakoff took place during the Crimean War. The town's residents accepted the idea, and in 1885 a post office was granted. On the eve of the Civil War Malakoff was a thriving community with a church, several mercantile stores, a blacksmith's shop, a saloon, two cotton gins, and a subscription school. Cotton, the town's most important product, was hauled by ox wagon to the Trinity River and shipped downstream.
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