CINCINNATI, TEXAS. Cincinnati, on the Trinity River in northern Walker County, was a riverport and an important ferry crossing during much of the nineteenth century. The settlement was founded in 1837 by James C. DeWitt and surveyed in 468 lots by Charles Brookfield. Water Street, on the west side, was a segment of the main road between Huntsville and Crockett and the site of the ferry crossing. The waterfront lots were all sold in 1836, but the town developed slowly during its first five years. Although there is no doubt that cotton was shipped from Cincinnati to Galveston on the Trinity, the volume handled is unclear. Records indicate numerous steamboats, as well as keelboats and flatboats, plying the Trinity between Galveston and points north. Although these boats stopped to load cotton or deliver goods at numerous points on the river, often at individual plantations or farms, towns such as Cincinnati frequently developed as central collection points. But navigation on the Trinity was difficult because of sandbars and fluctuations in water level, which often stranded boats for months; repeated attempts to improve the situation failed.
Cincinnati probably reached its peak in the early 1850s, when the town had a saloon, a grocery store, a cotton warehouse, a dry-goods store, a saddlery, a tannery, a cotton gin, a blacksmith shop, a wagonmaker, a stonemason, and two doctors. Estimates of the population during the early 1850s ranged from 200 to 600. A post office was established in 1866.
The major cause of the demise of Cincinnati occurred in 1853, when a traveler from Galveston brought yellow fever to the town. Perhaps as many as 250 people died, although the record is not clear. Rumors were wild and horrifying, but there are only a few specifically identified instances of yellow fever as the cause of death. No doubt a far greater number of people fled to escape the pestilence, and many never returned. The town began a steady decline. In 1872 the railroad connecting Houston and Dallas crossed the Trinity River fifteen miles downstream from Cincinnati, at Riverside. Ten years later the population of Cincinnati had decreased to thirty-five. In 1892 the post office closed.
D'Anne McAdams Crews, ed., Huntsville and Walker County, Texas: A Bicentennial History (Huntsville, Texas: Sam Houston State University, 1976). Heather Hornbuckle, "Cincinnati: An Early Riverport in Walker County," Texas Historian, March 1978.