About Humble, Texas
Humble is located in the northeast part of Harris County, Texas, where the forests of the Big Thicket merge with the coastal plains bordering the Gulf of Mexico. It was this combination of timberland, farmland, and abundance of wild game that first attracted settlers to the area. In 1824 David Harris, a member of Stephen F. Austin's colony, received the first land grant in this part of Harris County. Another early settler, Joseph Dunman, was the rider who carried Colonel Travis' letter (a plea for reinforcements) from the Alamo to Liberty in early 1836. After Texas gained independence from Mexico, Dunman and other settlers received land grants in this area during the 1840s.
By 1869, a Civil War veteran named Pleasant Smith Humble migrated to the area and purchased land along the south side of the San Jacinto River, where a ferry had been in operation since the 1850s. Mr. Humble took over operation of the ferry and also ran a grocery store. A civic-minded person, Pleasant Humble was elected as a Harris County Commissioner and served from 1876 to 1878.
Paul Bremond began work on a railway to go through the timberlands of East Texas in 1875. By April of 1877, 28 miles of track for his Houston East & West Texas (HE&WT) Railway had been completed, going from Houston to New Caney. As the railway was being completed, and to generate funds, Bremond ran daily entertainment excursions for the citizens of Houston. In 1878, one popular excursion ran 19 miles from Houston to San Jacinto Springs, located on the north side of the San Jacinto River, near present-day Hamblen Road.
As the railway opened up access through the East Texas forests, Bremond sold land on the train's right-of-way to sawmill companies. In 1882, the sawmill town of Lord was the first town to develop in this part of Harris County. The town consisted of four sawmills, a U. S. Post Office, and livestock businesses. By 1884, the town listed a population of 150.
The area further south of the river, near the Atascocito Road, was known as Dunman's Prairie. Joe Dunman, son of early settler Joseph Dunman, owned land here and opened a school in 1873. Lord was not able to survive as a town. In February 1886, the U. S. Post Office in Lord was closed. Pleasant Humble took over responsibility for the local mail, most likely out of his store or home. Local legend states that mail carriers from other towns were instructed to "deliver to Humble," meaning Pleasant Humble. Through continued use of this phrase, "Humble" eventually became the name of the town. Whether this story is true or not, when the application was made to have a U. S. Post Office established in his town in August 1886, the official name of the town on the application was listed as "Humble, Texas." Pleasant Humble became the town's first postmaster in 1886 and was also elected as the local Harris County Justice of the Peace in May 1887. The pronunciation of the town name was based on the way Pleasant Humble spoke his last name with a silent "H", so the town name was pronounced as "Umble."
In 1889, Charles Bender purchased one of the bankrupt Lord sawmills. The purchase included hundreds of acres of timberland, and included land occupied by the town of Humble. He built housing for his employees, and filed an official street plan for the town of Humble in 1904. With the addition of the Bender sawmill, Humble continued to thrive as a sawmill town.
The fortunes of the town improved dramatically on November 7, 1904, when the Moonshine Company struck oil in Humble. Humble became an oil boomtown overnight. The population increased from a few hundred residents to several thousand as Texans descended upon Humble to make their fortunes in the oil field. At that time, the Humble oil field was the largest producing oil field in Texas.
Early oil strikes were in an area known as the Echols Ridge. By 1907, this area was called Moonshine Hill, most likely after the company that made the first strike. Moonshine Hill was the primary location for oil production in Humble, but oil wells were located all over the Humble area. The oil boom died quickly, and some of the oil companies moved on to other boomtowns. However, the Humble field yielded two more production booms; one in 1914, and the other in 1929.
In the 1950s, the area's population grew as people moved to Humble to escape life in the City of Houston. In 1969, Houston's largest airport, now called George Bush Intercontinental Airport, was built on the west side of Humble. The 1970s saw the development of Kingwood, Atascocita, and other new residential communities around Humble. Today, the Humble area continues to thrive as a commercial, economic, and social hub for Northeast Harris County.