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Sabine County,  A History


Sabine County,  A History by Esta Lynn Currie Parker Huff



Sabine County, A History



Sabine County, A history written by Esta Lynn Currie Parker Huff about 1960. She was a longtime school teacher in Hemphill and Brookeland, TX.  Transcribed by Kay Parker McCary, a granddaughter.



          Sabine County is 564 square miles large.  It is located on pine covered costal plains of east Texas on the Louisiana border.

          It is bordered on the east by the Sabine River, west by San Augustine County, north by Shelby County, south by Newton and Jasper counties.

          Sabine County’s resources include pine, oaks, cypress, magnolia, elm, hickory, brick, pottery, clay, has, lignite, kaolin, lead and iron ore.  Crops include cotton, corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts, watermelons, peaches.  Livestock includes beef cattle, hogs, poultry, and moderate dairy production.

          The population includes Hemphill, County seat, 972, Pineland 1454, Bronson 700.  The tax value is $2,565,500.  The total value of the county is $4,205,737 and the average yearly income is $3,810,000.


          No one is certain about when Sabine county was first settled, but small settlements had sprung up by the first decade of the 1800’s.

          The district of Sabine was represented in the San Felipe Consultation in 1832, thus becoming a County in the Constitution, adopted March 17, 1836, of the Republic of Texas.  In 1837, its organization was brought together and Milam was named as County seat.

          By 1847 there were post offices at Milam and Longwood and there were 305 voters and a total population of 1,021.  By 1850 the population was 2,498 including 942 slaves.  But the population increased only 252 in the next decade and 208 of the increase was colored.

          In 1856 there were other post offices at Bear Creek, Sabinetown, and Fairmount.  A tide of immigration was flowing through Milam but few were settling east of the Trinity River.  The travelers crossed the river at a place known as Pendleton’s or Gaine’s ferry.  Even though few people stopped at Milam, those few were enough to make it a town of considerable size, population and reputation.  But people moved west as the frontier opened up and Hemphill became county seat of Sabine county in 1858.



Copyright by Esta Lynn Currie Parker Huff and Kay Parker McCary, All Rights Reserved.






Sabine County, A History


          The stage coaches and freight wagons stopping around Natchitoches had helped the republic of Texas get trade, and helped the United States in communication with Texas.

          The confederate war hit hard on the deep east Texas country and it not only took away its hard earned wealth, but also stole its young men into the war and very few came back.  As Texas began to rebuild after the war, the people began to move westward and left only the people who had good jobs or were too old who stayed in east Texas.  There was only a little trade, and agriculture gradually developed its methods.  The vast pine forests were still considered to be of no use to the people of east Texas, or to all Texans.

          Soon some lumbering developed by rafting logs down to Orange.  A few little water powered saw mills were put up to supply local bridge work and family needs, but all large quantities of lumber were still shipped in.

          In 1880, the stand of longleaf pine was estimated at 1,648,000,000 board feet.  By 1882, the people were beginning to think more about using timber and making use of the river as water power.

          In the year 1890, the railroad was still only a hope of the people of Sabine county.  There were 549 farms in the whole county.  This was less than one per square mile, and the total population was only 4,969.

          In 1890 Hemphill, which had long since become the county seat, had a population of 150, Milam 212, and Brookeland 144.  There were less than 18,000 acres of land in cultivation, putting out 4,000 bales of cotton from 8,663 acres planted.  At that time there were but 14 head of cattle, 3 sheep and 6 hogs per farm.

          The Sabine River had only a certain amount of steamboat traffic because of snags, and the river being crooked, but later it was cleaned up of snags and sinkers, which are logs that have become water soaked.

          The Neches Belle was a steamer which took railroad material up the Sabine River to Logansport and it brought some trade to Sabine County.  But the steamer was sunk near Logansport and left to rot.

          Sabinetown was the most important port in the county, though there were Pendleton and other landing.  The Dura, a boat seventy by fourteen feet was owned in Sabine County and could haul one hundred bales of cotton at a load.



Copyright by Esta Lynn Currie Parker Huff and Kay Parker McCary, All Rights Reserved.






Sabine County, A History


          After much waiting Sabine County got a railroad.  It was the Gulf, Beaumont, and Great Northern.  It came up through Jasper County, reaching Sabine County after the turn of the century.

          Bronson, Brookeland, and Pineland began to grow into towns as lumbering began to grow as an industry.  In 1904 pine timber on land would bring the price up to $8 an acre while in 1890 the same land would have sold for $1 per acre.

          Science inventions helped Sabine County very much in farming methods and in communication with the rest of the nation.

          Since Sabine county held most of the last of the virgin pine longleaf forests in Texas, and had not cut much until improved lumbering methods were being used the timber of Sabine county was not wasted like the other sections of the great pine belt of Texas and Louisiana.  Most of Sabine County is included in the Sabine National forests, along with a part of Shelby and San Augustine counties.

          The largest cities of Sabine County are Pineland 1454, Hemphill 972, and Bronson 700.  They have out grown old Milam, which is very small now with a population of only about one hundred.

          James Gaines established a ferry on the Sabine River early in the 19th century and later was elected to serve for his county in the Congress of Texas.

          The population growth of Sabine County was very slow until after 1900, when there were 6,394 people.  In 1930 there were 11,998 and most of the gains were after the railroad come.  The population almost doubled from 1900 to 1920 but dropped off slightly in the next ten years.

          Old Sabinetown, which was once the most important port in the whole county is now a mere name.

          Other towns in the county are Yellowpine, Time, Isla, Fairdale, Fairmount, and Geneva.  Geneva is a village of about a hundred population and is located on the highway between Milam and San Augustine.

          The county contains a considerable amount of the famous “redlands” of east Texas.  There are also large amounts of black and alluvial lands, which under a 53 inch rainfall produces reasonably good crops.  The Northern part of the county is rolling to hilly and the southern part is almost level.  The altitude is 150 to 350 feet and there are many creeks and springs.  Palogacho creek kept its Spanish name, but “Arenosa” changed to “Sandy”.



Copyright by Esta Lynn Currie Parker Huff and Kay Parker McCary, All Rights Reserved.






Sabine County, A History


          There were 1597 farms in 1935, but the harvested acreage was only 31,491 which is less than 20 acres to the farm.

          The county has more than 11,000 cattle, probably the highest in its history.  On the other hand the county does not have as many hogs as it did in 1890.

          Milam was County seat from 1837 to 1858, and Hemphill since 1858.

          Famous people of Sabine County include William Clark Jr. and James Gaines, signers of declaration of independence, 1836.  Isaac W. Burton, Benjamin F. Bryant, John C. Hale, William Pace, Alfred Benton, Dr. Robert K. Goodloe, all defenders of the Republic of Texas who lived in the county before or after the revolution.

          David S. Kaufman was the first Congressman to the United States from Texas.

          McMahon’s Chapel is the oldest Methodist church having a continuing existence in Texas.  It was organized in September 1833 in the home of Colonel Samuel McMahon by Reverend Henry Stephenson.  The first building was completed in 1839 by Reverend Littleton Fowler and was replaced in 1872 and again in 1900.  It is located five and one half miles west of Geneva.







Copyright by Esta Lynn Currie Parker Huff and Kay Parker McCary, All Rights Reserved.



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