1800s - 1900s
Gregg County was inhabited by Caddo Tribes until the early 1800s
and partly by Cherokee immigrants until 1839. Gregg County was settled
by farmers from the southern United States after Texas achieved
statehood in 1845. In 1860, the future Gregg County, consisted of parts
of Upshur and Rusk counties with nine rural post offices but not towns.
The Southern Pacific Railroad established Longview (the county seat) at Earpville in
1870 and paused there in constructing its transcontinental line. The
town was incorporated in 1871. During 1872, the International Railroad
(later called International & Great Northern Railroad) built a line
between Longview and Hearne, eventually reaching Mexico. Kilgore was
created by the International Railroad near New Danville in 1872. The
Southern Pacific was acquired by the Texas & Pacific Railroad, which
resumed construction westward from Longview early in 1873 and
established Gladewater near Point Pleasant. In 1877, Longview businessmen
formed the Longview and Sabine Valley Railroad (later acquired by the
Santa Fe Railroad), heading toward Sabine Pass. Meantime, Longview acquired
enough influence to have a county of its own.
In 1873, State Representative B. W. Brown (of Summerfield Community
north of Longview) introduced a bill to create a new county from parts of
Upshur, Rusk and Harrison counties. However, Harrison County successfully
resisted fragmentation, and the Rusk County portion turned out smaller
The name for Gregg County commemorated a popular secessionist leader
named John Gregg who was killed in action as a Confederate General.
In Longview, Kilgore and Gladewater cotton was the foundation of
the economy, occupying about half of the county's cultivated acreage,
and the use of the uncultivated acreage was timber for the sawmills.
Longview also had offices and shops for the three railroads, Kelly
Plow Works after 1882 and the Graham Box Factory after 1903.
1930s - Present
Late in 1930, Gregg County was rescued from the Great Depression
by the largest pool of petroleum ever discovered in the United States.
Nearly half of the field's 200 square miles lay in the western third
of the county.
Transformed into boom towns, Kilgore and Gladewater became
incorporated early in 1931. By the time drilling slacked off in 1935,
there were about 15,000 wells and 95 refineries in the field.
Among a multitude of civic improvements, the new wealth resulted
in the creation of Kilgore College.
Oil and natural gas enabled Gregg County to make the most of the
national boom that accompanied and followed World War II. Due to local
political influence, the government built Harmon General Hospital near
Longview during the war and afterwards donated it for use as LeTourneau
Technical Institute (later named LeTourneau University). The hospital
was part of the inducement for building the LeTourneau Factory at
The Texas Eastman plant, established near Longview in 1950, became
the largest petrochemical complex in inland Texas. Another industrial
milestone was the Schlitz (later named Stroh) Brewery in 1964. Also
beginning in 1964, the construction of Interstate Highway 20 confirmed
Gregg County's fortunate location on a natural east-west transportation
artery. By the time the county celebrated its centennial in 1973, its
position as a thriving industrial center and desirable place to live
was assured into the twenty-first century.