And Now You Know: Discovering the many names of Orange
The town on the river has had three names, Green’s Bluff, Madison, and Orange. There are several other names the area has been known by.
When George Pattillo first visited the area in 1830 it was a small Anglo-American colony in Mexican owned Texas known as the Cow Bayou Settlement.
It embraced the area that is now known as Orange County. There were about 20 families settled in the area between the Neches and Sabine rivers.
One of the early settlers in the area was Reason Green. Green settled on the first high ground above the mouth of the Sabine River, a distance of about 16 miles. The settlement became known as “Green’s Bluff”.
Green’s son, Freeman Green wrote in his memoirs that his father settled in the area in 1836. He had been a member of a party sent by Sam Houston to take women and children to the Sabine River, the western boundary of the United States, ahead of Santa Anna’s move into East Texas.
The detail “Stopped on the west bank of the Sabine”.
Reason Green “bought land there and lived there several years.” The 1840 census showed Green and his family living in Liberty County.
About the time the area was called “Green’s Bluff” it was called by some “Strong’s Bluff” as it was referred to in a lawsuit between A. F. Brumley and Jackson Black. The suit was heard in the district court in Galveston in 1855. The origin of the name has been lost over time.
In the historical documents, The McFarland Journal and The Russell Diary there are references that in 1840 the place was called “Pine Bluff” and that a town was being laid out. The town was to be called “Huntley” in honor of General Memucan Hunt.
At different times part of present day Orange was called “East Jefferson”, “Lower Town of Jefferson”, and “Town of Jefferson.”
On January 29, 1842, the Congress of the Republic of Texas created the “judicial” county of Neches.” This included the area of present day Orange County. The act was repudiated by the Supreme Court of Texas that same year when the court declared that “judicial” counties were unconstitutional.
That year, the name was changed from Green’s Bluff to “Madison” to honor President James Madison.
The town of Madison was incorporated by the Texas Legislature on September 1, 1856.
Later, the citizens of Madison requested that the name of the town be changed because Madison was often confused with Madisonville.
The Texas Legislature approved the request for the name change on February 6, 1858. The name “Orange” was adopted for the town.
There are at least three versions of the way Orange, the town and Orange County got the name.
One version is that the name comes from a citrus grove owned by George A. Pattillo, the first chief justice of Orange County.
Another is that the name comes from a grove of native orange trees that once grew in the area.
A third version is that Orange was named after Orange, New Jersey, the hometown of A.H. Reading one of the three commissioners authorized to organize Orange County in 1852.
The old names died hard. People continued to call the town Green’s Bluff for years.
The other names like “Huntley” and the “Jefferson” names may have been fastened on parts of Orange by hopeful real estate promoters.
“Madison” is still evident in Orange. It is the name of the Orange Masonic Lodge–Madison Lodge No. 126, AF & AM.
“And now you know.”