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NEWTON, TEXAS

Newton County Seat, East Texas

Hwys 190 & 87
15 miles E of Jasper
13 miles W of Louisiana
Population: 2,521 (2010) 2,459 (2000) 1,885 (1990)

Newton, Texas Area Hotels > Jasper Hotels

Newton, Texas

by Archie P. McDonald

It is strange how my life has intertwined with Newton County, the long, slender eastern twin of Jasper County located in southeast Texas just north of Orange and Beaumont, Texas.

First, summertime visits to home of the Russell family in Burkeville early in the 1940s introduced this city boy to outdoor toilets, sliding on the sawdust pile at the lumber mill, and Vacation Bible School—at the churches of three different but evidently cooperating denominations. The Russells included my great aunt and uncle Thelma and Bill Russell, and their six offspring.

Then, after the Barrett's let me have their Judy for a wife, I helped B.L. and Edna Barrett build a house near the Sabine River at Bon Wier, and in time, helped operate the place for a while. Throughout, though, I never knew much about the county. Here's what I have learned lately:

Newton County, a heavily timbered, sandy land place, began its brush with civilization as part of Lorenzo de Zavalla's land grant from Mexico, then got dragged along with the rest of Texas to a condition of independence during the Texas Revolution.

The State of Texas separated Newton from Jasper County in 1846 and named it to honor John Newton, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War. Burkeville, and a place called Quicksand Creek served as the county seat until 1853, when the town of Newton, located near the center of the county, became the seat of local government, which it remains, despite early efforts to return it to Burkeville.

Formal education began with the founding of a male and female academy by W.H. Ford in 1889. A few mercantile shops operated in Newton around the courthouse square, with a sawmill, gristmill, and a turpentine mill provided some industry. In 1906 the Northwestern Railway connected Newton to Orange, Texas, but I mostly remember riding a bus operated by a member of the Ford family between Burkeville and Newton during World War II.

That war drafted local youths to Army and Navy assignments and other fellows to shipyards and munitions plants located on the Gulf Coast. The timber industry changed, too, and in time tourism linked to the Toledo Bend Reservoir became an important aspect of Newton County's economic schema.

And this: Newton County is the wettest county in Texas—from precipitation, measuring nearly 55 inches per year.



© Archie P. McDonald
All Things Historical September 24, 2007 column
TX - Newton County Courthouse
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson December, 2012
Newton County Courthouse
Historical Marker:

Town of Newton

Located in the easternmost county of Texas, this town was little more than a forest of oaks and beeches when laid out in 1853. Due to its central location, it was elected county seat the same year, winning over Burkeville, the former county seat. Maj. John Moore, an early settler, built the first house in Newton and also the first courthouse-- a two-story frame structure. It was finished in 1856. The second (present) courthouse was finished in 1903. With the arrival of the Orange and Northwestern Railroad in 1905, Newton began to grow. Buildings increased from four in 1859 (two homes, a store, and a saloon) to 15 in 1913. The town was incorporated (1935) and is the county's only incorporated town.

A formal education system began with the W. H. Ford Male and Female College in 1889. It became part of the public school system in 1906. The first bank-- Newton County Bank-- was established in 1906. The "Newton News" was printed prior to 1920. Over the years forest products have been the basis of town's chief industries. Sawmills provided employment, as did plants for manufacturing baskets, turpentine, tool handles, and furniture. The town is now the county's main trade center.
1970

The County was named for American Revolutionary Hero Sgt. John Newton

Newton, Texas Attractions

  • Newton County Courthouse
  • Newton County Towns & Ghost Towns
  • The First Roadside Park in Texas
    "Newton County's pioneer park was more than just a few picnic tables beside the highway. It also included a bath house on Cow Creek, a favorite swimming hole in Newton County."
    Three miles southeast of Newton.
  • Wild Azalea Canyons Trail - Rock cliffs and wild Azaelas in an area few people know about.
  • Horse Sugar Nature Trail - Four miles SE of town on Hwy 190. Formerly known as the Sylvan Nature Trail, "renamed because it is now famous for its state champion Common Sweetleaf, also known as Horse Sugar."
  • Newton County Historical Commission History Center & Museum - (409) 379-2109
    105 Court Street P.O. Drawer 1550 Newton, Texas 75988


  • Newton Area Hotels > Jasper Hotels | More Hotels
    Newton Texas Coca Cola Sign
    Coca Cola Mural
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson
    , November 2010
    More Texas Murals | Coca-Cola
    Newton, Texas Chronicles
  • A Pioneer Hotel by Bob Bowman (From All Things Historical) -
    "... While the W.H. Ford Academy/Powell Hotel doesn't rent rooms today, it offers the next best thing. Each Tuesday at noon, you can sit down in the hotel's old dining room and enjoy a generous meal of homemade soup and cornbread, along with a helping of hotel history.
  • Jasper and Newton Counties, Beyond the Sabine
  • The log gym
    In the 1940s, Newton had a gymnasium made of logs--probably the last such structure of its kind in East Texas. Those who remember the gym say it was cold during the winters and hot as blazes during the summers. The building was torn down and replaced in the mid-fifties, but the gym’s floor, which had a beautiful Eagle painted in the center of the court, was installed in the new gym.
    (From Roaming Around East Texas by Bob Bowman)
    Newton County Tourist Information
    Newton County Chamber of Commerce - (409) 379-5527
    P. O. Box 66 Newton, Texas 75966
    http://www.newton-texas.com/

    Newton Area Hotels > Jasper Hotels
  • Newton, Texas Area Towns:
    Newton County Towns
    Jasper
    Newton Area Hotels:
    Jasper Hotels
    More Hotels
    More Texas Towns& Hotels:
    East Texas Towns
    Texas Ghost Towns
    Texas Towns
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