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Jasper, Texas
Downtown Jasper from corner of Lamar and Zavalla
Downtown Jasper from corner of Lamar and Zavalla
Motto: "Jewel Of The Forest"
Location of Jasper, Texas
Location of Jasper, Texas
Country  United States of America
State  Texas
County  Jasper
Area
 • Total 10.4 sq mi (26.9 km2)
 • Land 10.3 sq mi (26.8 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.2 km2)
Elevation 203 ft (62 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 8,247
 • Density 797.4/sq mi (307.9/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC−6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC−5)
ZIP code 75951
Area code(s) 409
FIPS code 48-37420
GNIS feature ID 1360162
Website jaspertx.org

Jasper is a city and the county seat of Jasper County, Texas, in the United States. The population was 8,247 at the 2000 census and 7,590 at the 2010 census. Jasper is situated in the Deep East Texas subregion, about 130 miles (210 km) northeast of Houston. Jasper (the "Butterfly Capital of Texas") holds an annual Butterfly Festival the first Saturday in October to celebrate the migration of the monarch butterflies.

History

Jasper County Courthouse
The Jasper County Courthouse

19th century

The area, which was then part of Mexican Texas, was settled around 1824 by John Bevil. Thirty families occupied the settlement as early as 1830, when it was known as Snow River or Bevil's Settlement after John R. Bevil, a hero of the American Revolution.

In 1835, the town was renamed after William Jasper, a war hero from the American Revolution, who was killed attempting to plant the American flag at the storming of Savannah in 1779. Jasper was one of the 23 original counties when the Republic of Texas was created in 1836. Jasper became the county seat in 1844, becoming part of the United States with the Texas annexation in 1845.

During the Civil War, the town housed a Confederate quartermaster depot and served as a major center for Confederate communication, transportation, and supply. Jasper was a Confederate Army headquarters for a nine-county area. Following the war, Union troops led by General George Custer occupied Jasper, camping in the town square. The only known soldier of the American Revolution to be buried in Texas was Jasper resident Stephen Williams, in whose honor a marker has been placed on the courthouse lawn.

Educational institutions included the Jasper Male and Female High School, which operated until 1878, when it became the Southeast Texas Male and Female College, and Jasper Collegiate Institute, which operated from 1851 until 1874. The population declined to 360 in 1870, reflecting the hardships of the Civil War, but by 1885 had risen to 1,000.

In 1896, Jasper had a population of 1,200. With the arrival of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway early in the 20th century, Jasper grew into a center for the manufacture of timber products. Lumber from two sawmills, with a daily capacity of 125,000 board feet (295 m³), goods from basket and stave factories, logs, ties, poles, and pulpwood were shipped in 200 cars per month.

20th century

Jasper served as headquarters for the Lower Neches Valley Authority's construction program, including Dam "B" at Town Bluff and engineering and surveying for a dam at Magee Bend on the Angelina River. Local farmers raised broiler chickens and beef, and in the 1950s turned to dairying. Jasper also became the headquarters of the Morgan and Lindsey chain of variety stores (otherwise known as dimestores), which at one time operated 85 outlets in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

In June 1998, the murder of James Byrd, Jr. catapulted Jasper into national news and led to the creation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Three men; William King, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and Shawn Berry, were tried and convicted of capital murder. King and Brewer received the death penalty, while Berry, who was the only suspect who cooperated during the investigation and implicated King and Brewer, was sentenced to life in prison. Brewer has been put to death, while King still awaits lethal injection.

21st century

In 2000, Jasper had 8,247 residents and around 250 businesses. Jasper was also one of the primary locations for the recovery of the Space Shuttle Columbia wreckage in February 2003.

Jasper was greatly affected by Hurricane Rita on September 25, 2005, as it moved inland. It suffered considerable damage. The town was also left without power or potable water for about three and a half weeks.

The Jasper Arboretum Project began in 2000 and the Outdoor Learning Center was added in 2012 to create 14 acres of public gardens, walking trails, a master gardener greenhouse, and a nature classroom.

In 2012, Jasper returned to national attention during a bitterly fought political feud over the hiring and firing of Jasper’s first black police chief, Rodney Pearson. In order to fire Pearson, two Black city council members were recalled in the narrowly divided city. Free of Voting Rights Act preclearance requirements, Jasper is moving to annex largely white suburbs.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.4 square miles (27 km2), of which 10.3 square miles (27 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (0.58%) is covered by water.

Climate

Climate data for Jasper
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 58.3
(14.61)
63.4
(17.44)
70.9
(21.61)
78.7
(25.94)
84.5
(29.17)
89.8
(32.11)
92.8
(33.78)
93.3
(34.06)
87.9
(31.06)
80.5
(26.94)
70.9
(21.61)
62.4
(16.89)
77.8
(25.44)
Daily mean °F (°C) 46.9
(8.28)
50.7
(10.39)
58.4
(14.67)
66.4
(19.11)
72.5
(22.5)
78.1
(25.61)
80.8
(27.11)
80.9
(27.17)
75.5
(24.17)
66.7
(19.28)
58.2
(14.56)
49.8
(9.89)
65.4
(18.56)
Average low °F (°C) 35.5
(1.94)
38.0
(3.33)
45.9
(7.72)
54.0
(12.22)
60.5
(15.83)
66.3
(19.06)
68.7
(20.39)
68.3
(20.17)
63.1
(17.28)
52.7
(11.5)
45.4
(7.44)
37.2
(2.89)
53.0
(11.67)
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.4
(112)
4.4
(112)
4.4
(112)
3.7
(94)
5.6
(142)
5.3
(135)
3.8
(97)
3.6
(91)
4.1
(104)
3.6
(91)
4.6
(117)
5.3
(135)
52.7
(1,339)
Snowfall inches (cm) 0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
Source: Weatherbase "Jasper Climate". Weatherbase. http://www.weatherbase.com/weather/weather.php3?s=365414&refer=. Retrieved March 11, 2010.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 377
1930 3,393
1940 3,497 3.1%
1950 4,403 25.9%
1960 4,889 11.0%
1970 6,251 27.9%
1980 6,959 11.3%
1990 6,959 0.0%
2000 8,247 18.5%
2010 7,590 −8.0%
Est. 2015 7,619 0.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
Welcome to Jasper
Welcome sign coming in from US Hwy 190 West

At the census of 2010, 7,590 people (compared with 8,247 people in the 2000 census), 2,890 households, and 1,892 families resided in the city. The population density was 733.9 people per square mile (283.4/km²). The 3,445 housing units averaged 333.1 per square mile (128.7/km²). The major racial and ethnic groups in the city, as a percentage of the total city population, were: 44.2% non-Hispanic African American; 41.9% non-Hispanic White; 10.8% Hispanic or Latino of any race; and 1.5% Asian, with the remaining 1.6% mainly consisting of non-Hispanics of two or more races. The Hispanic or Latino population was subdivided (as a percentage of total city population) into 5.9% other races, 3.9% White, 0.8% African American, and 1.1% in other categories, mainly two or more races.

Of the 2,888 households, 34.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.7% were married couples living together, 20.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.0% were not families. About 27.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.20.

In the city, the population was distributed as 29.4% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 22.8% from 25 to 44, 24.3% from 45 to 64, and 15.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 82.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.1 males.

Parks and recreation

Sam Rayburn Reservoir, about 9 miles north of Jasper, is visited by thousands of vacationers each year; it is the largest lake wholly within the state of Texas. Toledo Bend Reservoir is located a few miles east of Jasper. B. A. Steinhagen Lake is about 11 miles west.


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