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Bob Bowman's East Texas

A great old map

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman
Most historians love old maps. They squint at them for hours, often finding places they never knew existed.

A few months ago, Walter Williams dropped by my office in Lufkin, clutching a map from East Texas in 1882. It was like an early Christmas gift.

East Texas, naturally, was a lot different in 1882 than it is today--126 years later.

Some towns, like Lufkin, didnít exist, although it was founded later that year when the Houston, East and West Texas Railroad came to Angelina County.

The railroad, which began in Houston, had only made it to Moscow in Polk County by 1882. In 1886, it would arrive in Shreveport, opening up the East Texas forests to lumbering, new economic growth and dozens of new towns.

While there were a lot of railroads in Texas in the 1880s, the principal forested area around Nacogdoches, Center, San Augustine, Jasper and Hemphill did not have a major line until 1882.

In 1882, East Texas had a bevy of small towns that have since vanished or moved elsewhere--places like Salem in Newton County, Cheeseland in Angelina Count, Ogburn in Smith County, Cuthand in Red River County, Pinetown and Larissa in Cherokee County. and Marianna in Polk County.

Ironically, while East Texas has only one town named Zavalla (in Angelina County) today, it had two in 1882. One stood in Cherokee County and another was in Jasper County. Both have disappeared.

All of the Zavallas took their name from Lorenzo de Zavalla, a leader in the Texas revolution in the 1830s.

Like Lufkin, Kountze, Hardin Countyís present county seat, wasnít on the map. The county seat at that time was known as Hardin.

Since rivers were still navigable in 1882, the map showed many towns standing on river bluffs--places like Nibletís Bluff on the Sabine River, Sullivanís Bluff on the Neches, Commerce (not the town northeast of Dallas) on the Trinity, and Pulaski, also on the Sabine River.

There were also a considerable number of oddly-named towns in 1882.

Sea, which was far removed from any big body of water, was in Houston County.

Willow Hole was in Madison County, Cotton Plant was in Delta County, Corn Hill stood in Fannin County, and Guyís Store was in Leon County.

Texas and Louisiana shared at least one town name--Longstreet. The one in Texas stood in Montgomery County and a second Longstreet (a place where my family lived during World War II) stood near Logansport, Louisiana.

Today, while we have three Bostons in East Texas (all of them are in Bowie County), there was only one in 1883. Todayís Bostons are Old Boston, New Boston and just plain Boston.


Bob Bowman's East Texas
November 28, 2010Column.
A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers
Related Topics:
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(Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of almost 50 books about East Texas. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com)
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The Forgotten Towns of East Texas, Vol. I
By Bob and Doris Bowman
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