old newspapers, particularly those of the early 1900s, can be illuminating.
case in point: The Galveston Daily News of June 7, 1907, carried an article titled,
“Some Interesting Notes Concerning That Section of East Texas Which is Today Attracting
So Much Attention.”
Writing about Angelina County, the unknown author
described the county as “full of romantic incidents, to say nothing of tragedy
and material of a more substantive nature.”
The author said Angelina County
“used to be known as Nipantuck and its first capital or county seat was Marion
on the Angelina County.”
There’s nothing new about Marion being the first
county seat, but Nipantuck is new in our household. Perhaps it was a nickname
applied to the area before Angelina County was carved from the south end of Nacogdoches
County in 1846. Staying alive in that part of East
Texas was often nip and tuck.
Joe Chestnut was one of the first justices
of peace at Marion and, during his term, a man was brought before him on charges
that he had killed a neighbor’s hog and cut off its ears.
The hog’s ears
were brought into court and laid on a table, where they became the prime piece
of evidence against the thief.
As the case unfolded before Chestnut, it
looked like the hog thief would be convicted, but his lawyer pulled a sneaky move.
He picked a fight with the prosecuting attorney and, in the ensuing scuffle,
knocked over the table holding the hog’s ears. They were quickly eaten by a dog
in the courtroom.
With the evidence of theft gone, the hog thief was set
free. There is no knowledge of who owned the dog.
After Marion ceased
to be the county sear, the courthouse was moved to Jonesville,
a hamlet named for a local cotton gin owner named Jones.
remained there several years and was moved by an election to Homer.
“But old man Jones got mad and claimed that the election had not been held fairly
and, being some kind of official, managed to get hold of certain county seals,
which he refused to give up and, which for a time, occasioned more or less trouble
for the emigrating county officials,” reported the Galveston Daily News article.
author also shed some light on the old story of how Lufkin
became the county seat.
When the Houston and West Texas Railroad reached
Moscow in Polk County in the
l880s, “it halted for a breathing spell, and the engineers set out to project
a route for the road by way of Nacogdoches
One Saturday afternoon, the story goes, the engineers
reached Homer, then the county
seat, footsore and weary. “They put up at the best hotel in town and proceeded
to wash up and shave...and don cleaner wearing apparel.”
“Next, as a matter
of course, they went out and walked about the town, incidentally taking in a few
drinks...and getting tipsy enough for the sheriff to arrest them and lock them
“It took several days to get the men out of jail and the matter
so disgusted the (survey) chief that he called off further progress and, returning
to Moscow, reported that the
route to Homer was not feasible.”
The new route was run six miles west of Homer
through “an old field grown up in pine saplings.”
And so, the story goes,
Lufkin was born--the offspring
of a bunch of drunks. It’s a great story, but reputable historians have since
proved that it isn’t true--just a legend. But the folks in Lufkin
still love the legend.
Bob Bowman's East Texas
December 27, 2009 Column
A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers