It is strange how my life has intertwined with Newton
County, the long, slender eastern twin of Jasper
County located in southeast Texas just north of Orange
and Beaumont, Texas.
First, summertime visits to home of the Russell family in Burkeville
early in the 1940s introduced this city boy to outdoor toilets, sliding
on the sawdust pile at the lumber mill, and Vacation Bible Schoolat
the churches of three different but evidently cooperating denominations.
The Russells included my great aunt and uncle Thelma and Bill Russell,
and their six offspring.
Then, after the Barrett's let me have their Judy for a wife, I helped
B.L. and Edna Barrett build a house near the Sabine River at Bon
Wier, and in time, helped operate the place for a while. Throughout,
though, I never knew much about the county. Here's what I have learned
Newton County, a
heavily timbered, sandy land place, began its brush with civilization
as part of Lorenzo de Zavalla's land grant from Mexico, then got dragged
along with the rest of Texas to a condition
of independence during the Texas Revolution.
The State of Texas separated Newton
from Jasper County
in 1846 and named it to honor John Newton, a veteran of the American
Revolutionary War. Burkeville,
and a place called Quicksand
Creek served as the county seat until 1853, when the town of Newton,
located near the center of the county, became the seat of local government,
which it remains, despite early efforts to return it to Burkeville.
Formal education began with the founding of a male and female academy
by W.H. Ford in 1889. A few mercantile shops operated in Newton around
the courthouse square,
with a sawmill, gristmill, and a turpentine mill provided some industry.
In 1906 the Northwestern Railway connected Newton to Orange,
Texas, but I mostly remember riding a bus operated by a member
of the Ford family between Burkeville
and Newton during World
That war drafted local youths to Army and Navy assignments and other
fellows to shipyards and munitions plants located on the Gulf
Coast. The timber industry changed, too, and in time tourism linked
to the Toledo
Bend Reservoir became an important aspect of Newton
County's economic schema.
And this: Newton County
is the wettest county in Texasfrom
precipitation, measuring nearly 55 inches per year.
Things Historical September 24, 2007 column
the easternmost county of Texas, this town was little more than
a forest of oaks and beeches when laid out in 1853. Due to its central
location, it was elected county seat the same year, winning over
Burkeville, the former county
seat. Maj. John Moore, an early settler, built the first house in
Newton and also the first courthouse-- a two-story frame structure.
It was finished in 1856. The second (present) courthouse was finished
in 1903. With the arrival of the Orange and Northwestern Railroad
in 1905, Newton began to grow. Buildings increased from four in
1859 (two homes, a store, and a saloon) to 15 in 1913. The town
was incorporated (1935) and is the county's only incorporated town.
A formal education system began with the W. H. Ford Male and Female
College in 1889. It became part of the public school system in 1906.
The first bank-- Newton County Bank-- was established in 1906. The
"Newton News" was printed prior to 1920. Over the years forest products
have been the basis of town's chief industries. Sawmills provided
employment, as did plants for manufacturing baskets, turpentine,
tool handles, and furniture. The town is now the county's main trade
County was named for American Revolutionary Hero Sgt. John Newton
County Towns & Ghost Towns
First Roadside Park in Texas
"Newton County's pioneer park was more than just a few picnic
tables beside the highway. It also included a bath house on Cow
Creek, a favorite swimming hole in Newton County."
Three miles southeast of Newton.
Canyons Trail - Rock cliffs and wild Azaelas in an area few
people know about.
- Four miles SE of town on Hwy 190. Formerly known as the Sylvan
Nature Trail, "renamed because it is now famous for its state
champion Common Sweetleaf, also known as Horse Sugar."
Historical Commission History Center & Museum - (409) 379-2109
105 Court Street P.O. Drawer 1550 Newton, Texas 75988
Newton Area Hotels > Jasper
Hotels | More Hotels
by Bob Bowman (From All Things Historical) -
"... While the W.H. Ford Academy/Powell Hotel doesn't rent
rooms today, it offers the next best thing. Each Tuesday at noon,
you can sit down in the hotel's old dining room and enjoy a generous
meal of homemade soup and cornbread, along with a helping of hotel
and Newton Counties, Beyond the Sabine
In the 1940s, Newton had a gymnasium made of logs--probably the
last such structure of its kind in East
Texas. Those who remember the gym say it was cold during the
winters and hot as blazes during the summers. The building was torn
down and replaced in the mid-fifties, but the gym’s floor, which
had a beautiful Eagle painted in the center of the court, was installed
in the new gym.
Around East Texas by Bob Bowman)
County Tourist Information
Chamber of Commerce - (409) 379-5527
P. O. Box 66 Newton, Texas 75966
Newton Area Hotels > Jasper
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