Native Americans from the Wichita and Caddo tribes once roamed this area. Just east of the park, on private property, is a cliff overhang under which Native Americans took shelter. Petroglyphs carved into the rock walls indicate this was a good hunting area.
The abundance of wild game drew white settlers here in the early to mid-1800s. The settlers established many small towns and communities during this time.
On the south border of the park lies a road known as the Tyler to Porter's Bluff Road, a well-known stage route from East Texas to the Trinity River. Along this route, just northeast of Edom near the Neches River, is the site where the famed Cherokee Chief Bowl died in the battle of the Neches in 1839.
Purtis Creek State Park is 1,582.4 acres in Henderson and Van Zandt counties. The state acquired the park property in 1977 from private owners. The park opened in 1988.