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by Luke Warm
BEYOND THE SABINE
"Texas is one of those rare state names that goes with anything."
- John Fergus Ryan
& Clyde, Jeckyll & Hyde. Some things just sound better together.
Fred & Ginger, Laurel & Hardy, Burns & Allen, Ben and Jerry and
Jasper & Newton.
Jasper can mean a petty scoundrel. As in: "Dagnabit! That ornery
Jasper stole mah spurs!" As for Newton, you got Sir Isaac,
you got Newton Boys, and you got Huey, Wayne and Figs Newton.
In Texas, Jasper
and Newton Counties
lean their elongated shapes up against one another a little like
New Hampshire and Vermont. The difference is J&N's dividing line
runs straight up and down, not diagonal.
The namesakes for Jasper and Newton are two American Revolutionary
War soldiers who were both from South Carolina. Both served under
Major Francis Marion, AKA "The Swamp Fox". Marion has had his
own share of counties named after him, including the one that Jefferson,
Texas is in.
Ironically, although there are eight counties named after each of
these men, South Carolina has a Jasper, but no Newton County.
Sgt. John Newton is remembered for saving several patriots
from execution when he made prisoners of their British Guards. William
Jasper, also a Sergeant, must've done something worthy, but
we don't know what*. Perhaps one of
our all-knowing readers will tell us.
of Lufkin says
that Newton was a Corporal, and Bob
Bowman is right. Corporal Newton received a promotion - much
like Sergeant Alvin York, of WWI.
Few remember that he was actually Corporal York at the time of his
Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Mississippi, and Texas'
Jaspers and Newtons are all joined at county lines. Iowa has no
Newton County - but the town of Newton is the county seat of Jasper
County (see Mr. Richard Sawyer's letter below). Mississippi's arrangement
has Newton directly North of Jasper and both are square as Pi. But
just to throw a wrench in the works, our source* states that Mississippi's
Newton is named after Sir Isaac, not Sgt. John. How could this be?
In Indiana, Newton and Jasper are again side-by-side and as they
are in Texas, both have an elongated
shape. The only difference is that Newton is on the left here.
predates Texas Independence, and Newton
County was carved from Jasper's
territory in 1846. The town of Jasper, Arkansas is in Newton County,
however this Newton is named after neither Sgt. John nor Sir Isaac,
but (supposedly) an Arkansas legislator.
you've read this far, you're probably one of those people fascinated
by names. If that is the case, we're including a list of the more
repeated county names across the country.
There is a Texas
County in Oklahoma (in the center of the three Oklahoma Panhandle
counties), and one in Mississippi. Missouri has a Texas County with
Houston as its county seat. The only Maverick
County in the entire U.S. is in Texas, while Maui County is found
only in Hawaii.
- There are
8 counties named Orange. Except for California, Florida
and Texas, the others are in the North.
- There are
11 counties named Fayette.
- There are
18 counties named Montgomery.
- There are
15 named Grant (mostly in the North), 12 named Lee (all
in the South), 14 Johnsons, 12 Polks, and 10 Hancocks.
Franklin and Jefferson are tied. Both have 25 counties
and 1 parish named after them. Washington has the most
with 30 counties and 1 parish named after him.
"God is in his heaven, and all is right with the world."
*Our source is the 1997 Edition of Counties, U.S.A.
See Texas Counties
Jasper and Newton
Dear Texas Escapes,
I was reading your article about Jasper and Newton Counties in Texas.
I am from Jasper County, Indiana. We also have a Newton County on
our western border in Indiana. Our county seat of Rensselaer was
originally called Newton before a name change in the 1860's. Newton
County and Jasper County were part of a large land area in Indiana,
and in the 1830's it was divided into Jasper, Newton and Benton
Responding to your inquiry about the history of the men Jasper and
Newton, and how the honoring of the two came about, I would like
to share the following. It gives quite a story on how they handled
themselves in the Revolutionary War, and how they came to be honored
by the naming of the numerous counties. The following is paraphrased
from "A History of Warren, Benton, Jasper and Newton Counties, in
Indiana" published in 1883:
As you know, the two were part of the group of soldiers called "Marion's
Men." The story states that Sergeant Newton was a compatriot of
Jasper and the two were often involved in "deeds of daring". One
of these occasions is described in a story that states that the
two were visiting Jasper's brother, who had decided to remain loyal
to the British. Jasper and his brother were still family and on
good terms, so Jasper decided to secretly visit him in the British
encampment. If caught, the two would surely be shot.
While on this secret visit to Jasper's brother, the men learned
that some American patriots were being transferred to Savannah.
These prisoners had deserted from the British and their fate would
surely be death. Jasper was moved by the fact that the wife and
children of one of the prisoners was accompanying the group. Jasper
and Newton decided to ambush the British soldiers and free the patriots
before the detachment reached Savannah.
Just before arriving at Savannah, the group stopped to rest and
Jasper and Newton attacked, killing two guards and running off the
remaining of British soldiers. The patriots were freed. The two
men were deemed heroes and their names have been listed on adjacent
Counties in many States in honor of their achievements.
The story behind the two has always intrigued me as well. I know
of many people who have wondered about the many twin counties almost
always found side by side, and at least one of the towns in those
counties being named for Jasper or Newton. By the way, coincidentally
or not, we have a Marion Township in our County, which is the site
of our county seat, Rensselaer (formerly Newton), and to the west
of Marion Township is Newton Township.
I hope this information sheds a little more light on the subject.
- Michael G. Kingman, R.L.S.
Jasper County [Indiana] Land Surveying Services,
May 26, 2007
I came across
your item on Jasper and Newton Counties and the guys after whom
they are named while I was searching for similar information about
Jasper and Newton Counties in Mississippi and the frequent pairing
of the two names elsewhere. You imply that there is a Newton County
in Iowa, which there is not. The city of Newton, where I taught
for seven years, is the seat of Jasper County. The same holds true
People in Newton, Iowa, suffer from an urban legend about the names.
I was told, and for several years I repeated, that Jasper and Newton
were a pair of surveyors who named places after themselves across
the Midwest. I got suspicious only when I passed through Newton
and Jasper Counties in Mississippi recently (while on Katrina duty
with the Red Cross). Surely the same guys whose names are plastered
across Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa did not also survey Mississippi.
Your site gave me the story of the Revolutionary soldiers, which
I confirmed at other sites including a history of Jasper County,
I am trained as a historian of science. My colleagues in that discipline
naturally think first of Sir Isaac when they hear of my association
with Newton. Until now, I have been giving them one misconception
to replace another. I haven't yet learned where the surveyor story
came from, but I'm trying. - Richard C. Sawyer, Keomah Village (not
in Jasper County), Iowa, October 25, 2005
Rev. hero. S.C.
Of obscure parentage, but apparently from the vicinity of Georgetown,
S. C., he enlisted on 7 July '75 in Francis Marion's Co. for service
in Wm. Moultrie's Regt. During the defense of Charleston in 1776
he braved enemy artillery to replace the flag that had been shot
from the parapet of Ft. Sullivan (later Ft. Moultrie). Given a sword
by Gov. Rutledge, he declined a commission on the ground of being
ignorant. As a roving scout under Moultrie, Marion and Lincoln,
successively, he gathered valuable information of British activities.
He was killed while planting the colors of the 2nd S.C. on the Spring
Hill redoubt in the assault on Savannah, 9 Oct. '79. An impressive
monument has been erected at Savannah in his honor, and one of the
redoubts at Ft. Moultrie was named "Jasper Battery." (James W. Patton
in Dictionary of American Biography, quoted in Boatner's Encyclopedia
of the American Revolution.)
I have found that it is much easier to find information on Sgt.
Jasper than it is on Sgt. John Newton. - Regards, R. Keith Young
of Texas Towns
Town List - Over 3,300 Texas Towns
on a First-name Basis
Of the roughly 2,000 town names on the official state map, over
400 of them are first names.
strange town names by Bob Bowman
While some early East Texans named their towns for families, their
hometowns or landmarks, othes were a tad more creative...
and Newton Counties, Beyond the Sabine
odd names all over Lone Star State, 'Top 10' of the U.S. are commonplace
here by Bill Bradfield
did they name it that? by Archie P. McDonald
Why They Named it That by Archie P. McDonald
Geography Lesson by Bob Bowman
Geography - Place name tweaking of several Counties and County Seats
by Mike Cox
Place name tweaking of several Counties and County Seats
Towns by Mike Cox
and Shoot, Gun Barrel City, Gunsight, Point Blank and Winchester
by Mike Cox
towns by Mike Cox
The Texas map is sprinkled with cities and towns that got their
names by mistake...
Ranks by Mike Cox
The historic urban population hierarchy and population figures dating
back to 1850...
town names by Bob Bowman
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic
photos, please contact