TexasEscapes.com HOME Welcome to Texas Escapes
A magazine written by Texas
Custom Search
New   |   Texas Towns   |   Ghost Towns   |   Counties   |   Trips   |   Features   |   Columns   |   Architecture   |   Images   |   Archives   |   Site Map

Sabine County
Sabine County


Texas Towns
A - Z
Hotels

HEMPHILL, TEXAS

Sabine County Seat, East Texas

31°20'33"N 93°51'18"W (31.342612, -93.854909)
State Hwy 87 and 184
64 miles E of Lufkin
28 miles SE of San Augustine
64 miles SE of Nacogdoches
14 miles to Louisiana
Population: 1,229 Est. (2016)
1,198 (2010) 1,106 (2000) 1,182 (1990)

Book Hotel Here > San Augustine Hotels
TX - Sabine County courthouse square & Texas Centennial Monument
Sabine County courthouse square & Texas Centennial Monument
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, November 2010

Hemphill, Texas Topics:

  • Hempill by Archie P. McDonald, PhD
  • Hemphill Historical Marker
  • Hemphill Chronicles


    Hemphill Landmarks & Attractions

  • Sabine County Courthouse next page
  • Sabine County Jail next page
  • Patricia Huffman Smith Museum next page
    Honors the memory of the nine victims of the 2003 Columbia disaster
  • Historic Gaines-Oliphint House next page

  • Hemphill TX - Sabine County Courthous e
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, November 2010
    Sabine County Courthouse

    HEMPHILL

    by Archie P. McDonald, PhD

    Few find the community of Hemphill, county seat of Sabine County, by accident unless they are lost. One generally has a purpose for visiting this old town. A good one might be finding a place to fish or to retire since the completion of Toledo Bend Reservoir provided the area with a fine 'fishing hole' not far away.

    Milam served as the seat of local government in Sabine County until 1858, when voters decided to move the courthouse to a more central location. E.P. Beddoe drew the assignment of finding the right spot and platting a town there. They named it Hemphill in honor of John Hemphill, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas and of the State of Texas.

    Hemphill assumed its role as a government center in 1859, and Michael Watson became postmaster there the same year. Despite its promising beginning as a central location of the Sabine County, the county itself lay in the grip of dense forest.

    With the Sabine River on one side and trees all around, Hemphill was not benefited by the Houston, East and West Texas Railway, the first constructed in East Texas in 1882-1883.

    In 1884, Hemphill had a population of only 350 souls, few retail businesses, a cotton gin, and a lumber mill. Population declined to less than 300 in 1900, rose to 400 by World War I, and reached perhaps 1,500 or so by the 1920s before declining again during the Depression. In 1990 the official count stood at 1,182 residents. A significant portion of the present population resulted from the economic stimulation of Toledo Bend Reservoir.

    I have some fond memories of Hemphill. On many weekends back in the 1960s, we drove from Nacogdoches to the southern part of Sabine County to help my father-in-law, Bert Barrett, clear brush from a lakeside subdivision he and his partners were developing. Our route followed Highway 21 to Milam, then south, through Hemphill, to the subdivision.

    We rarely stopped, unless it was at the old Peddy's Restaurant, for a cup of coffee or a meal. On one trip my wife wanted to stop in town for a purchase, and my then four-year-old son and I strolled around the square while she shopped. We received a guided tour of the old jail, just then unoccupied, that shares the square with the seat of justice in Sabine County. I had never seen the inside of a jail before, and determined that this would be my last visit. So far, that has turned out to be the case.


    © Archie P. McDonald, PhD
    All Things HIstorical July, 2002 Column
    Sabine County old jail in Hemphill, Texas
    Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, 2010
    Former Sabine County Jail
    Gaines-Oliphint House oldest standing hand hewn log structure in Texas
    Historic Gaines-Oliphint House
    Acknowledged by the Texas Historical Commission as the oldest standing hand hewn log structure in the state. A double pen planked log story and a half building with a dog trot...
    Historical Marker (201 Main St, Hemphill) Text:

    Hemphill

    In 1858, Sabine County organized the community of Hemphill, named for Texas Supreme Court Justice John Hemphill (1803-1862). An election determined that the county seat would be moved from Milam to this new settlement in the center of Sabine County. Earl Percy Beddoe surveyed and laid out the town site on an 80-acre tract owned by Richard Fendall Slaughter and his wife, Anna (Holman). A post office was established in Hemphill in 1859.

    Builders constructed the first courthouse in Hemphill shortly after the community’s establishment; it was replaced in 1864 by another building, which burned down in 1875. Builder completed another courthouse in 1877, which was eventually replaced by the current structure in 1906. Other significant early institutions included Sabine Valley University, established in 1879, and First National Bank, which opened in 1907 and closed during the Great Depression. Hemphill Common School District No. 1 organized in the late 1800s, and by 1890 listed three trustees, two teachers and eighty-eight students.

    The population of Hemphill increased steadily between 1850 and 1930, due in great part to the presence of the Knox Sawmill in the western part of town. Temple Lumber Company later bought the mill, which burned in 1937. Combined with post-World War II rural-to-urban migration trends and the lack of major thoroughfares in the town, the closing of the sawmill promoted a decline in the community’s population. Today, Hemphill remains the seat of the Sabine County government, and is home to several national, state and local offices, remaining a community of vital importance in the state of Texas.
    Texas grain elevator feed store
    A feed store in Hemphill
    TE photo
    More Hemphill Stories
  • A gunfight in Hemphill by Bob Bowman
    With deep roots in East Texas, John Wesley Hardin was our most famous outlaw and gunfighter, but many of his raids and shootings in the pineywoods have remained unchronicled. A little-known incident in which he won a gunfight with a Sabine County deputy sheriff at Hemphill...

  • The Mystery of Lady Bountiful by Bob Bowman
    November 22 will mark the 85th anniversary of an East Texas murder that created a still-lingering mystery and put a timber baroness in a pauper’s grave.

  • Saving Sallie's Home by Bob Bowman
    Today, more than a few Hemphill townspeople are convinced Sallie's prayers 95 years ago have protected her house from the wrecker's ball and will lead to its eventual restoration.


  • A Personal Hero by Bob Bowman
    My favorite East Texans are the senior citizens whose agile memories have helped me write columns such as this. Leon Herman Adickes, 88, who was high on my list, died recently at Hemphill -- a place where he helped make history by simply doing things to make his community a better place. Most of what he did were acts like making sure Hemphill had a doctor, a hospital, a nursing home and a Lions Club.

  • The Twirler by Bob Bowman
    When Audrey Dean Leighton passed away in mid-2005, East Texas lost one of its most entertaining and colorful characters.

  • Take a road trip
    Hemphill, Texas Area Destinations:
    San Augustine | Nacogdoches | Lufkin
    See Sabine County | East Texas

    Book Hotel Here:
    San Augustine Hotels | More Hotels
    Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, landmarks and vintage/historic photos, please contact us.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


    Texas Towns A - Z Texas Regions:
    Gulf Texas Gulf Coast East East Texas North Central Texas North Central Woutn Central Texas South Panhandle Texas Panhandle
    South South Texas Hill Texas Hill Country West West Texas Ghost Texas Ghost Towns counties Texas Counties

    Texas Escapes Online Magazine »   Archive Issues » Home »
    TEXAS TOWNS & COUNTIES TEXAS LANDMARKS & IMAGES TEXAS HISTORY & CULTURE TEXAS OUTDOORS MORE
    Texas Counties
    Texas Towns A-Z
    Texas Ghost Towns

    TEXAS REGIONS:
    Central Texas North
    Central Texas South
    Texas Gulf Coast
    Texas Panhandle
    Texas Hill Country
    East Texas
    South Texas
    West Texas

    Courthouses
    Jails
    Churches
    Schoolhouses
    Bridges
    Theaters
    Depots
    Rooms with a Past
    Monuments
    Statues

    Gas Stations
    Post Offices
    Museums
    Water Towers
    Grain Elevators
    Lodges
    Stores
    Banks

    Vintage Photos
    Historic Trees
    Cemeteries
    Old Neon
    Ghost Signs
    Signs
    Murals
    Gargoyles
    Pitted Dates
    Cornerstones
    Then & Now

    Columns: History/Opinion
    Texas History
    Small Town Sagas
    Black History
    WWII
    Texas Centennial
    Ghosts
    People
    Animals
    Food
    Music
    Art

    Books
    Texas Railroads

    Texas Trips
    Texas Drives
    Texas State Parks
    Texas Rivers
    Texas Lakes
    Texas Forts
    Texas Trails
    Texas Maps
    USA
    MEXICO
    HOTELS

    Site Map
    About Us
    Privacy Statement
    Disclaimer
    Contributors
    Staff
    Contact Us

     
    Website Content Copyright Texas Escapes LLC. All Rights Reserved