County, East Texas
U.S. Highway 79, FM 31 and FM 1794
14 Miles NE of Carthage
in a Pecan Shell
Texas legislator Alfred Wesley De Berry, the community had previously been known
as Evergreen, Texas. Settlement had occurred before the Civil War.
The town was granted a post office in 1874. The population rose to 150 by the
mid 1880s when the town could boast of eight general stores, two churches and
By the early 1890s, the population had doubled to 300 but
by 1914 that number had fallen to just 50.
Oil was discovered in the 1920s
but the boom was about as big as it was brief.
The population had risen
to 250 in 1929 and the town maintained 233 people through the Great Depression.
De Berry schools merged with those in nearby Carthage
after WWII. The 1990 Census
showed nearly 200 residents.
DeBerry Baptist Church Historical Marker|
Photo courtesy Gerald
fellowship grew from the pioneer Bell-Fountain Baptist Church, which was organized
prior to the Civil War. After a fire destroyed the Bell-Fountain Chapel in 1880,
members started two separate congregations: Shady Grove and DeBerry. Land for
construction of the first DeBerry sanctuary was donated by Holland Livingston
Anderson. The Rev. T. A. Coleman served as the first pastor. Adjacent land and
new facilities were added later as the church grew. For over a century DeBerry
Baptist Church has led in service work and community development.
DeBerry Historical Marker|
On FM 31 north of US 79
Photo courtesy Gerald
of 1850 sawmill and grist mill. Settled mostly by cotton planters. Center for
markets and gins. Oil development after 1900. Named for Col. Alfred W. DeBerry
(1829-1903), 28th Texas cavalry, dismounted, Confederate army. In 1863-65 legislature,
helped pass laws to give confederacy men, revenue and supplies, support soldiers'
families and defend Texas frontiers. In 1874-76 was Secretary of State under Gov.
Richard Coke, who put Texas government into the hands of the people after nine
years of federal rule.
: Music from two country masters|
(Excerpted from "THE
EAST TEXAS SUNDAY DRIVE BOOK" by Bob Bowman)
Carthage, head east on U.S. 79. Four miles
out of the town, on the right side of the highway, stop at the Jim Reeves Memorial,
a tribute to the country singer known as "Gentleman Jim". Reeves was born near
here in l924 and grew up around DeBerry. He was killed in an airplane crash
in l964. At the peak of his career, Reeves recorded a number of successful songs,
including "Bimbo," "He'll Have To Go" and "Four Walls." He also starred in a film,
Panola County is also the birthplace of another famous
musician, Tex Ritter, who was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame
in l964. Ritter, christened Woodward Maurice Riter, was born here in l907 and
intended to be a lawyer. He made his first recording, "Rye Whiskey," in l931 and
became the first artist signed by Capitol Records in the l940s. He made more than
80 western films before he died in l974 at Nashville, Tennessee. Ritter is the
father of another movie and television star, John Ritter. ( See Tenaha,
Timpson, Bobo, and Blair by Archie P. McDonald )
turn north on Farm Road 31, go through the settlement of Elysian
Fields (which means "a heavenly place"), and continue until the highway
intersects with Farm Road 2625. Follow it in a westerly direction until
you arrive at the intersection with Texas 43. Turn south here and proceed
through the town of Tatum. ..."