Named for Maj. Gen. Johann de Kalb - a hero of the American Revolution - upon suggestion (1836) of David Crockett, a visitor on his way to fight in Texas War for Independence. Other Texas heroes traveling through here were James B. Fannin and Wm. B. Travis.
Settled by 1831, when land was given for a public school by Dr. W. H. Boyce, Wm. L. Browning, D. M. Chisholm, Clement R. Johns and Judge (and Dr.) James W. Smith.
Site of first college in Bowie County, founded in 1839 and of Ninth Masonic Lodge in Texas, organized 1840. Served as county seat, 1840-1841. On two early stagelines. A stopover for U.S. immigrants to Texas Republic, and 49'ers on way to California gold rush.
In 1870's hideouts of train robbers Sam Bass, Jesse James, other notorious characters were nearby. Texas & Pacific Railroad reached here 1876. Site in 1889 of P. S. Ramseur's sawmill which shipped high quality lumber all over United States; to get logs to mill, he built a railroad, traces of which still exist. Although in 1896 and 1923 most of businesses were destroyed by fires, city prospers today. Center of ranching, truck farming, and pulpwood productions.
Known as "The Pride of East Texas".