Jefferson County, Texas

Jefferson County is a county located in the Coastal Plain or Gulf Prairie region of Southeast Texas in the United States. The Neches River forms its northeast boundary. As of the 2010 census, the population was 252,273.[2] The 2015 United States Census estimate is 254,308.[3] The county seat of Jefferson County is Beaumont.[4]

Jefferson County
The Jefferson County Courthouse in Beaumont. The Art Deco-style building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 17, 1982. The top five floors once served as the County Jail.

Location within the U.S. state of Texas

Texas's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 29°52′N 94°08′W
Country United States
State Texas
Named forThomas Jefferson
Largest cityBeaumont
  Total1,113 sq mi (2,880 km2)
  Land876 sq mi (2,270 km2)
  Water236 sq mi (610 km2)  21%%
  Density292/sq mi (113/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
  Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district14th

The county was established in 1835 as a municipality of Mexico, which had gained independence from Spain. Because the area was lightly settled, the Mexican government allowed European Americans from the United States to settle here if they pledged loyalty to Mexico. This was organized as a county in 1837 after Texas achieved independence as a republic.[5][6] It was named by European-American settlers for U.S. president Thomas Jefferson.[6] Texas later became part of the US.

Jefferson County is part of the BeaumontPort Arthur, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area and has the highest population of the four-county MSA. It has three state correctional facilities and a federal high-security prison in unincorporated areas of the county. Together they have a maximum capacity for nearly 9,000 prisoners.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,113 square miles (2,880 km2), of which 876 square miles (2,270 km2) is land and 236 square miles (610 km2) (21%) is water.[7]

Jefferson County is located on the plains of the Texas Gulf Coast in the southeastern part of the state. The county is bounded on the north by Pine Island Bayou, on the northeast by the Neches River, and on the east by Sabine Lake and the mouth of the Sabine River, a natural outlet called Sabine Pass. The southern part of the county is largely marshland, much of which is contained within Sea Rim State Park, reaching to the storm-battered beach at the Gulf of Mexico.

Major highways

Adjacent counties and parishes

National protected areas


Historical population
Est. 2017256,299[8]1.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]
1850–2010[10] 2010–2014[2]

As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 252,051 people, 92,880 households, and 63,808 families residing in the county. The population density was 279 people per square mile (108/km²). There were 102,080 housing units at an average density of 113 per square mile (44/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 57.24% White, 33.74% Black or African American, 0.34% Native American, 2.89% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 4.26% from other races, and 1.50% from two or more races. 10.53% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 8.3% were of American, 7.2% French, 6.2% German, 5.8% English and 5.3% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 92,880 households out of which 33.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.40% were married couples living together, 16.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.30% were non-families. 27.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.12.

In the county, the population was spread out with 25.90% under the age of 18, 10.00% from 18 to 24, 29.30% from 25 to 44, 21.10% from 45 to 64, and 13.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 101.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $34,706, and the median income for a family was $42,290. Males had a median income of $36,719 versus $23,924 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,571. About 14.60% of families and 17.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.60% of those under age 18 and 11.80% of those age 65 or over.

The 2015 US Census estimates for demographic analysis of the population are the following: The racial makeup of the county was 59.3% White, 34.3% Black or African American, 1.0% Native American, 3.9% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 4.26% from other races, and 1.50% from two or more races. 18.9% of the population were ethnic Hispanic or Latino of any race.[3]

Government and politics


The County Commissioners Court, considered the administrative arm of the state government, is made up of a county judge and four commissioners. The four commissioners are elected to staggered terms from single-member districts or precincts, two in years of presidential elections and two in off-years. The County Commissioners Court carries out the "budgetary and policy making functions of county government. In addition, in many counties, commissioners have extensive responsibilities related to the building and maintenance of county roads."[12]

The appointed county judge in Texas is usually the judge of the County Criminal Court, County Civil Court, Probate Court and Juvenile Court.


Jefferson County was represented in Texas State House District 21 from 1999 to 2015 in the Texas House of Representatives by the Republican Allan Ritter, a businessman from Nederland.[13] On January 13, 2015, Republican Dade Phelan of Beaumont succeeded Ritter, who did not seek reelection in 2014.

It is also represented in Texas State House District 22, which takes in much of Beaumont and Port Arthur, by Democrat Joe D. Deshotel, who has served in this seat since 1999. In the 81st Legislative Session, Deshotel was appointed to serve as chairman of the House Business and Industry Committee, a post he continues to hold today.[14]

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice operates three facilities in the county: the Gist Unit, a state jail;[15] the Stiles Unit, a prison;[16] and the Leblanc Unit, a pre-release facility, in an unincorporated area of Jefferson County.[17]

In addition, the Texas Youth Commission operated the Al Price State Juvenile Correctional Facility in an unincorporated area[18] within the Mid County region.[19] The facility was among three selected for closure in August 31, 2011, because of agency budget shortfalls.[20] In 2015 the county commissioners announced that it would lease the facility to a Beaumont charter school, Evolution Academy, at a minimal cost for 35 years. This was reported as an attempt to prevent the state from housing sex offenders here who had completed their sentences.[21]


Jefferson County is part of Texas' 14th congressional district, represented in the US House of Representatives by Randy Weber (Republican). The Texas US Senators are John Cornyn (Republican) and Ted Cruz (Republican).

The Federal Bureau of Prisons operates the Beaumont Federal Correctional Complex in an unincorporated area in Jefferson County. It is a high-security prison with a capacity of nearly 1400 inmates.[22]

Presidential elections

Membership in political parties in Texas has undergone realignment since the late 20th century, following passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and renewed participation by minorities in the political system. Jefferson County has been dominated by Democratic voters in presidential elections: prior to 1965 they were majority white and the party has since attracted many minorities. In many parts of Texas, Republican voters have predominated in presidential elections, especially since the turn of the 21st century.

In 2004, Jefferson was one of only 18 counties in Texas that gave Senator John Kerry a majority of the popular vote. Kerry received 47,050 votes while George W. Bush received 44,412.[23] In 2008, Barack Obama won 51.25% of the vote and 44,888 votes. John McCain won 48.38% of the vote and 42,905 votes. Other candidates received 1% of the vote.[24] The Democratic trend continued in 2012 when Barack Obama won Jefferson County with 50.34% of the vote, while 48.73% went to Mitt Romney.

In 2016, Donald Trump won the county by a very narrow margin over Hillary Clinton, becoming the first Republican presidential candidate to win in Jefferson County since 1972.

Presidential elections results
Presidential elections results[25]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2016 48.9% 42,862 48.4% 42,443 2.6% 2,313
2012 48.7% 43,242 50.3% 44,668 0.9% 825
2008 48.5% 42,905 50.8% 44,888 0.7% 637
2004 48.4% 44,423 51.2% 47,066 0.4% 377
2000 46.4% 40,320 52.3% 45,409 1.4% 1,180
1996 38.9% 32,821 54.3% 45,854 6.8% 5,751
1992 31.0% 29,622 50.7% 48,405 18.3% 17,516
1988 39.0% 35,754 60.7% 55,649 0.3% 290
1984 45.0% 45,124 54.7% 54,846 0.2% 245
1980 43.5% 36,763 54.0% 45,642 2.6% 2,197
1976 40.3% 32,451 59.1% 47,581 0.6% 514
1972 60.4% 45,819 39.4% 29,909 0.1% 109
1968 33.4% 26,007 38.6% 30,032 28.0% 21,829
1964 39.1% 28,771 60.6% 44,584 0.3% 239
1960 41.8% 29,395 57.6% 40,533 0.6% 403
1956 54.3% 30,102 45.2% 25,057 0.5% 270
1952 46.3% 25,363 53.6% 29,384 0.1% 48
1948 17.2% 5,749 67.1% 22,475 15.8% 5,290
1944 15.6% 4,525 75.9% 22,066 8.6% 2,489
1940 19.8% 4,860 80.1% 19,694 0.2% 37
1936 12.2% 2,544 87.4% 18,187 0.4% 77
1932 17.2% 3,584 82.1% 17,129 0.7% 152
1928 56.7% 9,209 43.2% 7,006 0.1% 16
1924 40.4% 4,348 55.1% 5,925 4.5% 483
1920 17.2% 1,110 65.8% 4,246 17.0% 1,094
1916 13.0% 488 82.1% 3,082 5.0% 186
1912 7.8% 187 71.2% 1,703 21.0% 503


The area is served by deep-water ports located at Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange, and Sabine Pass. The Sabine Neches Waterway provides deep-water access to ocean-going vessels, which are served by public ports within the County. The waterway is the 3rd largest port in the US by tonnage.

The County is traversed by Interstate Highway 10, US Highways 90 and 69-96-287, State Highways 73, 87, and 105 and three farm-to-market roads. Rail and motor freight carriers also provide freight service to the County. The Jack Brooks Regional Airport located between Beaumont and Port Arthur provides passenger and freight service and is currently serviced by one commuter passenger air carrier.

The economy of the County is based primarily on petroleum refining; the production and processing of petrochemicals, bio-fuels and other chemicals; the fabrication of steel and steel products; shipping activity; the manufacture of wood, pulp, food and feed products; agriculture; and health care services. The County continues to diversify its economic base as evidenced by the increase of jobs in the services and government sectors. The County is also home to the largest military off-load port in the world.

Several large projects are in construction, permitting, and development for the area and the County continues to work with other taxing entities to create a business environment conducive to this growth. These include such notables as Lucite, Air Products, Vitol, Golden Pass Products, OCI, Exxon Mobil, Golden Pass LNG, and Sempra Energy.

Petrochemical expansions at the Motiva, Total, and Valero facilities located in Jefferson County represent approximately $15 billion in project improvements. In addition, hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on terminal and pipeline facilities to support these projects. Construction of the Trans-Canada Keystone XL pipeline which would deliver Canadian tar sands crude to Jefferson County and proponents say would help in relieving US dependence on oil from more politically volatile regions is awaiting federal permit approval. In addition, recent rail terminal facility expansions and new construction has significantly increased the transportation of Canadian tar sands oil and bitumen to the area for processing by area refineries.

Cheniere, one of two companies with Liquefied Natural Gas Terminals on the border of the Texas/Louisiana Coast, is completing construction of a $10 billion liquefaction facility. Golden Pass LNG opened their terminal in mid-2011. With their opening, the ship channel is now home to over 40% of the nation’s LNG capacity. Golden Pass LNG has filed with federal authorities for permits allowing it to build a $10 billion gas liquefaction facility in Jefferson County, as has Sempra Energy. It is anticipated that these permits should move through the approval process more expeditiously now that former Texas governor Rick Perry has been confirmed as the new Secretary of Energy.

The County has participated in a study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers into the feasibility of deepening the Sabine-Neches waterway. This will allow ports in Southeast Texas, the third largest in the nation, to accommodate newer deep draft vessels and thus remain competitive with other ports on the Gulf Coast. Recently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued their “Chief’s Report” which paves the way for federal funding of this project. The U S House and Senate recently passed legislation which was signed by the President authorizing the construction of the waterway improvements at a cost in excess of $1 billion. Congressional appropriations for the project are expected shortly.

The County continues to work with industry leaders, the Texas Workforce Commission, Lamar Institute of Technology, Lamar University and non-profit groups to supply a workforce able to handle the growing labor needs of the County. This is especially critical given the interest of the international community in locating facilities to the county.

The resurgence in U. S. oil and gas exploration and production has made the County the place of choice for those industrial sectors seeking to exploit opportunities to profit from historically low priced energy commodities.


Beaumont is home to Lamar University, a public research university with an enrollment of 14,889 students as of the fall 2014 semester; it offers 96 undergraduate, 50 master's, and eight doctoral degree programs.[26] Port Arthur is home to Lamar State College–Port Arthur, offering two-year degrees and one-year certifications, including 34 associate degrees and 24 technical programs. Fall 2014 enrollment totaled 2,075 students.[27]



Census-designated places

Unincorporated areas

See also


  2. "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on September 4, 2011. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
  3. "Jefferson County Profile", compiled by The County Information Program, Texas Association of Counties; accessed 2 January 2016
  4. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  5. "Jefferson County". Texas Almanac. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved June 20, 2015.
  6. Diana J. Kleiner (June 15, 2010). "Jefferson County". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved June 20, 2015.
  7. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  8. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  9. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  10. "Texas Almanac: Population History of Counties from 1850–2010" (PDF). Texas Almanac. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  11. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  12. "Duties of Texas County Commissioner", Jefferson County, Texas, website; accessed 2 January 2016
  13. "Allan Ritter's Biography". Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  14. "Bio: Rep. Deshotel, Joe.", Texas House Member
  15. "Gist Unit Archived 2010-01-25 at the Wayback Machine." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on January 11, 2010.
  16. "Stiles Unit Archived 2010-01-25 at the Wayback Machine." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on January 11, 2010.
  17. "Leblanc Unit Archived 2010-01-08 at the Wayback Machine." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on January 11, 2010.
  18. "Facility Address List Archived 2010-07-25 at the Wayback Machine." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on July 31, 2011.
  19. Moore, Amy. "Al Price one of three juvenile facilities to close." The Beaumont Enterprise. Friday June 3, 2011. Retrieved on February 28, 2012.
  20. "TYC Announces Closure of Three Facilities Archived 2012-03-05 at the Wayback Machine." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on July 3, 2011.
  21. Dan Wallach, "Here's what's moving into the old Al Price detention center", Beaumont Enterprise, 18 June 2015; accessed 2 January 2016
  22. "FCI Beaumont Low Contact Information." Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on January 11, 2010.
  25. Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  26. "Lamar University". Texas State University System. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  27. "Lamar State College-Port Arthur". Texas State University System. Retrieved January 15, 2015.

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