Camp County, Texas
Cities, Towns and Communities
This is one of the smaller and younger counties of East Texas, containing only 207 square miles, and was created and organized in 1874. It traces back through Upshur to Nacogdoches County. Pine Tree (now Pine) was an Upshur County post‑office in 1856; and Major W. H. Pitts, who came from Georgia in 1850, received a land grant including the present site of Pittsburg in 1854. The town was chosen by vote as the county seat when the county was organized.
Big Cypress Creek forms the northern boundary, and practically all the drainage of the county goes into that stream and its branches. The altitude is about 400 feet, and the topography of the county is typical of the rolling to hilly East Texas piney woods, with many intervening valleys where ash, gum, walnut, hickory and other valuable timber abounds and which supplies the raw material for a large basket and crate manufacturing industry, and other wood using industries.
Agriculture is highly diversified, and with a dependable rainfall of about 45 inches annually, vegetable and truck growing probably brings more revenue than cotton. Small fruits are also an important source of income, and, area considered, Camp County is one of the principal sweet potato centers in the State.
Curing plants, both on the farms and in Pittsburg, spread the marketing of this crop over several months and prepare the potatoes for shipment to distant markets.
In 1935 there was an average of about five head of cattle per farm in Camp County, but farm dairying is increasing since he opening of a cheese factory at Winnsboro (in an adjoining county) and the inauguration of milk truck routes. Paved highways cross the county in both directions, and farm roads are being improved throughout the county. The last census (1930) gives Camp County a population of 10,063. In 1935 there were 1,560 farms, with about 41,000 acres in crop land, and 21,000 acres more available for crops.
Soon after the county was organized two narrow gauge railroads formed a junction at Pittsburg—the East Line & Red River, and the St. Louis Southwestern. This was about 1876-7, and both roads were long ago standardized, becoming integrated with far-reaching systems. In 1880, the first census after the county was set off, it had a population of 5,931. With its wealth of shortleaf pine, the advent of the railroads made lumbering the principal industry for a time. The forests still furnish considerable revenue in the form of cross ties, poles, and some sawed pine lumber, in addition to the hardwoods which enter into a great many commercial uses.
Pittsburg (population 1930, 2,640) has long been known as one of the most progressive and stable business centers in that region. It is probably the smallest town in Texas with a Carnegie Library. Leesburg, named for John Lee, is the second largest town, having a population of some 300, and with Newsome (165), serves the western part of the county.
John LaFayette Camp—For whom Camp County was named was a state senator when the county was created. He was a native of Elyton (an old town later absorbed by Birmingham), Alabama. Born in 1820, he took such schooling as was available at home, and entered the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where he graduated at the age of twenty. He settled at Gilmer, Upshur County, Texas, where he taught school and practiced law until 1861, when he was elected Captain of an Upshur County company and joined the Confederate army.
He was later elected Colonel of the Fourteenth Texas Regi‑ent, in which capacity he served through the remainder of the war. He was twice severely wounded and twice captured and imprisoned. At the close of the war he returned to his home and family (having married in 1851) and in 1866 was elected a member of the constitutional convention. He became a state senator in 1874 and a district judge in 1878. He declined an appointment to the board of regents of the University of Texas on account of ill health, but later served as land commissioner for Arizona under appointment. At the end of his term he returned to Texas, and located in San Antonio, where he died in 1891 after a lingering illness.
East Texas : its history and its makers, Counties of East Texas, 1940.