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History of Corsicana

The Beginning

Corsicana was established in 1848 to serve as the seat of government for Navarro County, which the first Texas legislature had created two years earlier. The county was named after Jose Antonio Navarro, a Texas patriot. When asked what the new town should be called, Navarro replied, "Call it Corsicana after the island of Corsica, the birthplace of my father." Corsicana was a typical post-Civil War cotton town in the black lands of northeast central Texas. The city first adopted its Home Rule Charter in 1917 and last amended in May 2007.

Oil Fields

In 1894, oil was discovered by accident only blocks from Corsicana's business district as drillers were completing an artisan well to expand the city's water supply. Within six years, 500 oil wells operating within the city limits were producing 800,000 barrels of crude annually, making Corsicana the site of the first commercial oil field in Texas. Today the more than 26,000 residents of Corsicana take great pride in their rich history.

"Firsts" of Corsicana

Other historic information concerning the many "firsts" taking place in Corsicana include:

  • Corsicana is where oil was first discovered west of the Mississippi, thus Corsicana became the first Texas oil boom town, and one of Texas' wealthiest cities.

  • In 1898, the state's first oil refinery was built by a new local company called Magnolia Petroleum Company (known today as Mobil). Another local startup, The Texas Company (Texaco) began shortly thereafter.

  • Corsicana was one of the first cities in Texas to use natural gas for lighting and fuel.

  • Lyman T. Davis first delivered his famous chili in downtown Corsicana in 1895. He started canning his chili in 1921 and named it "Wolf Brand" after his pet wolf. A picture of the wolf is still found on the label to this day. The company is now owned by ConAgra Foods.


Parks & Recreation and Tourism are committed to commemorating 175 years of Corsicana history throughout the year with events. Through this celebration, we remember our past, as well as look ahead to creating a future that is representative of all Corsicana.

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