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 Texas : Towns / East Texas : De Berry

DE BERRY, TEXAS

Panola County, East Texas
U.S. Highway 79, FM 31 and FM 1794
14 Miles NE of Carthage

Population: 191 (2000)

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De Berry TX city highway sign
Entering De Berry
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey

History in a Pecan Shell

Named after 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 three schools.

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 TX - DeBerry Baptist Church
DeBerry Baptist Church. More Texas Churches
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey
DeBerry TX - DeBerry Baptist Church historical marker
DeBerry Baptist Church Historical Marker
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey
Historical Marker Text

DeBerry Baptist Church

This 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 TX - DeBerry  old school building
Old DeBerry School building. More Texas Schoolhouses
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey
DeBerry TX Historical Marker
DeBerry Historical Marker
On FM 31 north of US 79
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey
Historical Marker Text
DeBerry
Site 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.
Carthage : Music from two country masters
(Excerpted from "THE EAST TEXAS SUNDAY DRIVE BOOK" by Bob Bowman)

"...
From 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, "Kimberly Jim."

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 )

At DeBerry, 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.
..." more
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