In 1878, the “Encyclopedia of the New West,” published in Marshall, gave a short description of the “railroad” towns of Texas. Queen City received glowing mention as a “growing railroad village…beautifully situated among tall and stately oaks…”
“The idea of rearing a town on the spot and in proximity to Atlanta, already established, originated with a single individual of enterprise, some capital, and more pluck.”
One of the main men with “pluck” was John C. Hutchison.
Interestingly, Queen City settlers likely began their sojourn in a community they called “Lanark,” five miles north of Atlanta. When the citizens of Lanark discovered the title to the town site was void and could not be adjusted, they looked for a new place to locate.
Hutchison and Dr. George Salmon went to Atlanta to investigate the possibility of moving the entire population of Lanark to that town. But instead, Hutchison and a dozen of others formed a stock company and established their own town in 1876. The town was located on the J.M. Clements survey.
Though Queen City wasn’t formally organized until 1876, some of the Clements family had migrated from Georgia as early as the 1840s. Twenty years before Queen City was established there had been a post office at Courtland, two miles northwest.
In July of 1876, a big picnic and auction sale of lots was held. The name of the town “Queen City” came as an inspiration to Hutchison, and it was adopted over the protests of some who had moved from Georgia and desired the town to be named Marietta, Georgia. Queen City was incorporated on July 6, 1876.
Alex Pace and H.C. Roberts opened the first store in November of 1876. Hutchison moved his drug store from Lanark the same month. Major Anthony and his daughter, Mrs. Randle, taught the first schools in Queen City. Bart Perry was the first Sunday School superintendent, at a union school. The building was located on the present school grounds west of the cemetery.
The Presbyterians built the first church, in 1878, with the Masonic Lodge and the Eastern Star Hall above. The church was located at the corner of 2nd and Marietta Streets. The Methodists erected their first building in 1880 at 3rd and Marietta. In 1893 or 1894, the Presbyterian Church was destroyed by a storm, and the Baptists purchased the remains of the building and built a Baptist Church in 1894.
Business began booming in Queen City. By 1878, Queen City had a population of 400, 17 stores, two saloons, a shoe shop, livery stable, silversmith, tan yard, and iron foundry. A large sawmill moved from Texarkana to Queen City in 1885, on the south side of town. The tanning yard was run by Perry Hawkins and Dave Lucas. The first livery stable was owned by Butler and Story.
Crocket Boon published the first newspaper, which evolved into the “East Texas Rambler,” published by W.H. Mathews in the 1880s. In the early days, Queen City had a depot. All passenger trains passing through Queen City during the day stopped. On Sundays it was common practice for many Queen City residents to gather at the depot to watch the passenger trains come in and leave.
Tragedy struck Queen City only five years after its incorporation. On August 11, 1881, fire destroyed two blocks of businesses. The alarm was given by William McDonald, who took too much time trying to save goods and was killed by a falling wall blown out by an explosion.
These buildings were rapidly replaced by larger ones, only to become victims of a second fire about three years later. These were replaced by brick buildings in 1884. J.L. Griffin operated the first brick yard in Queen City. C.P.A. Powell later ran a brick yard for several years.