Tatum, twenty-one miles northeast of Henderson on the Rusk-Panola county line, was settled in the 1840s by Albert and Mary C. Tatum, for whom it was named. In 1848 the Tatums built a plantation in the area; it was so large that the boundaries were said to be "out of gunshot sound of the mansion." The plantation house was very grand, with a long hall for dances, where over the years thousands of guests wrote their names on one wall. When the Santa Fe line built through the region in 1885, a townsite was divided into lots. Paul (Uncle Fox) Tatum laid out the streets, and, when a post office was established in 1886, became postmaster. In 1896 or 1897 the Old Miller School was opened six miles northwest of Tatum. A bank was established in 1903. In 1904, when a population of 154 was reported there, part of the town was destroyed by a tornado, and in 1905 a fire razed nearly all of its north side. By 1925, however, the population had risen to 428. The eleven-grade Tatum school was the most modern in the area by 1929, and that year it was consolidated with the school of nearby Stewart. In 1954 Tatum reported 599 residents. A marker was placed near Tatum in 1976 to commemorate Trammel's Trace, an early trade route, part of which forms the boundary between Rusk and Panola counties. By 1984 Tatum had a population of 1,339, and by 1988, 1,531, with sixteen businesses. Tatum has been a farming, dairying, and lumbering center for most of its history. In 1990 it had an estimated 1,289 residents. The population reached 1,175 in 2000.

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

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Tatum by the Numbers

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Population Counts

Pop. Year Source
1,342 2020 United States Census Bureau
1,455 2019 Texas Demographic Center
1,385 2010 United States Census Bureau
1,175 2000 United States Census Bureau
1,289 1990 United States Census Bureau