East Texas Quarterly Magazine Spring 2014 - Page 20

design and is the only Irish castle style courthouse remaining in the United States. The present area of Shelby County was a part of the Municipality of Tenaha when Mexico became independent of Spain in 1821, and the most important town was Nashville which was created in 1824. When Texas became independent from Mexico in 1836, the Congress of the Republic of Texas created Shelby County, naming it after an American Revolutionary soldier named Isaac Shelby. The county was organized in 1837, and Shelbyville, which was once called Nashville, became the county seat. In 1866 a legislative act was passed requiring all county seats to be located in the center of the county. Center became the county seat and was named for its central location. Two Shelby County natives, Sydney O. Penington and William Crawford, were signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Penington is buried in Shelbyville. Crawford was a Methodist preacher, and is said to have held the first service in the Methodist Church at Shelbyville. 18 East Texas Quarterly