Groveton, the county seat of Trinity County, is at the intersection of State Highway 94 and U.S. Highway 287, near the center of the county. The community was established in 1881, when the Trinity County and Sabine Pass Land and Railway Company built a lumber mill on the south side of its newly laid track and plotted a townsite on the north side. Company director William S. Peters proposed the name Grovetown because of a stand of blackjack trees between the mill and the town; residents almost immediately shortened it to Groveton. The first building was a shack that William Magee used as a saloon; Tom Wortham built the first residence.
A post office was granted in 1882, the same year that voters chose Groveton as the new county seat. The courthouse at Pennington had recently burned down, and Groveton had rail facilities and was closer to the center of the county. The Trinity Lumber Company, which was auctioning off town lots, offered to donate the site for a town square and materials for a new courthouse, which was built of brick in 1884.
Even though the mill was the town's only industry, Groveton and Milltown, or South Groveton, were organized as separate municipalities with different mayors. Groveton was incorporated in 1919. Because Trinity, unlike many other mills, made no provision for the social or other needs of its employees, the two communities combined to build churches and a school, and the company store was on the Groveton side of the tracks.
The closing of mills in other areas around 1900 brought a population influx to Groveton. It also brought a period of lawlessness that the locals combatted by outlawing saloons and the sale of liquor in 1900. Between 1909 and 1921, as the timber began to run out, most mills in the vicinity closed, and entire towns disappeared with them, but the Trinity mill, one of the largest in the South, was still open full-time in 1928. It finally closed at midnight on December 31, 1930. A two-hour mill whistle blast signalled the end of prosperity. Over the next three years the mill was dismantled, and local rail lines were abandoned. The town's population dropped from 4,000 to 1,046 between 1928 and 1931. In 1933 Groveton began reporting combined population figures with South Groveton.
In the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps began reforestation in the area, and the Work Projects Administration made possible much construction in Groveton, including a new county jail, Groveton High School, and a gymnasium. After a population low of 799 in 1952, Groveton reported 1,148 residents and forty-two businesses in 1961. In the 1980s Groveton was once again a lumbering center and had become a gateway to the recreation areas of the Davy Crockett National Forest. It was also a retail center for Trinity County, as well as a center for small manufacturing. In 1988 it had a population of 1,286 and twenty-seven businesses. In 1990 the population was 1,071. The population reached 1,107 in 2000.