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Incorporated in 1969, the town traces its roots to Alta Vista, the plantation home of Confederate Col. Jared Ellison Kirby. When the state was looking for a site for the state's first black college, they found their way to Alta Vista. The property was sold to the state in the mid-1870s. An agricultural and mechanical training school opened in March 1978. In April 1879, the state legislature established Prairie View Normal and Industrial Training School (now Prairie View A&M University).