Orange County, Texas
Cities, Towns and Communities
Bridge City | Bunn's Bluff | Orange (Madison, Green's Bluff, Orange City) - county seat | Lemonville | Mauriceville | Pine Forest | Orangeville | Pinehurst | Rose City | Terry | Texia | Vidor | West Orange
Orange County 1858. This county is at the head of Sabine Lake, and is separated from Louisiana by the Sabine river : it is a well-timbered county, having very little prairie. All of the coast towns in Texas receive from this region their finest cypress lumber. - Braman's information about Texas, 1858
Orange County 1940. From the standpoint of white settlement, Orange County is older than its parent, Jefferson, from which it was created in 1852. In fact, this was the original Jefferson County as mapped by the Texas Congress, and the town of Jefferson "on the east bank of Cow Bayou," was the county seat chosen by the three commissioners charged with that duty. When Jefferson County was enlarged by extension west of the Neches a new county seat was located at Beaumont, and the "former county seat," said in 1837 to have had about a dozen houses, seems to have lost its
identity as a town. The Cow Bayou settlement was attached to Liberty municipality as a precinct in 1832, and in the fall of 1835 was represented in the formation of the Provisional government....
Madison was the only postoffice in Orange County in 1856, and in 1860 there were only 1,916 people in the county. The Texas & New Orleans Railroad was barely completed from Houston to Orange when the Civil War interrupted all progress, the railroad ceased to operate before it hardly began, and did not resume until 1876. The county fell back to a population of 1,255 in 1870, but took on new life and grew to 2,938 in 1880. In that year Commodore Charles Morgan's Mobile, New Orleans & Texas Railroad, building westward, met the Texas line at Orange, completing a transcontinental connection for what was to become the Sunset Route of the Southern Pacific system.
Nine sawmills and six shingle mills were operating at Orange in 1881, much of the timber being rafted down the Sabine from other counties in Texas and Louisiana. Orange itself had, besides its cypress and hardwoods, about 750,000,000 feet of standing pine, less than a third longleaf, and the remainder loblolly.
In 1890 the county had a population of 4,770, of which 3,173 were in the county seat. Six sawmills, three shingle mills, five planing mills, and one brick and tile factory comprised the industrial set-up. There were only 127 farms in the county, with 245 acres in cotton (125 bales), 863 acres in corn, 217 acres in sweet potatoes, 68 acres in sugar cane (291 barrels of syrup), and three acres of rice. During the last decade of the century rice became the principal crop of the county, and in 1900 Orange and Jefferson together had 8,206 of the 8,711 acres of rice in Texas. In 1903 Orange alone had 9,000 acres in rice, irrigated from three main canals, and a fourth was under construction.
In the same year a paper making plant was purchased at Pensacola, Florida, and installed at Orange. After eight years of expensive experimenting the Yellow Pine Paper Mills Company successfully evolved a method of manufacturing high-grade kraft paper from pine, the first of many which have since been built in the pinelands of the South.
From the tiny sawmill of Robert Booth on Adams Bayou six miles north of the present City of Orange, which its owner left to carry a rifle just before San Jacinto, and which had a capacity of only 1,500 feet daily when it was afterward completed; and the mill at Turner's Ferry powered by the boiler and engine of a wrecked steamboat in 1841, and finally moved to Orange in 1847, grew an industry which in its peak year (1907) cut 2,197,233,000 feet of lumber.
Early in the present century the Orange & Northwestern Railroad was built into Jasper and Newton Counties, and in 1926 Orange secured deep water by the dredging of a channel across the lake, as a part of the Sabine-Neches waterways, and its exports and imports now amount to more than a million dollars a year.
They were wildcatting in Orange County as far back as 1904, but it was some years before oil development was successful. The 1938 production was 824,201 barrels, and the May, 1939, daily allocation was 3,329 barrels from 71 producing wells.
Unfortunately for agriculture, navigation engineering brought salt water to some of the sources of irrigation water, and rice culture fell off as a result. In 1934 the 745 farms in the county harvested only 8,245 acres in all crops, which is considerably less than was devoted to rice alone a generation ago.
The county sustains more than 15,000 head of cattle, principally of the beef type, in which the Brahman breed is predominant. One of the leading herds of pure bred Brahmans in the State is that of the Stark interests. Slightly over two thousand dairy cows were milked in 1934, which was a gain of some five hundred in five years.
Orange has a meat packing plant and a vegetable cannery, rice mill, crate factory; lumber, paper mill, woodworking plants and shipyards constitute the other industries, which altogether turned out products valued at $896,180 in 1935, the last year for which figures are available.
The Old Spanish Trail (U. S. Highway 90) is paved through the county, and three other hard-surfaced roads radiate from Orange. Stateway 87, known as the "Hug-the-Coast" highway has its eastern terminus here, crosses the Neches over a picturesquely soaring span, and skirts beautiful Sabine Lake to Sabine Pass.
The 1930 population of the county was 15,149, of which 7,913 were in Orange City. The present estimated population of the county is more than 18,000, Orange being credited with 8,300. Other towns are : Orangefield, 1,000; Vidor, 706; Lemonville, 300; Texla, 200; Mauriceville, 50; Terry, 40; besides numerous stations and trading points.
Bunn's Bluff, established 1867, is listed among the "ghost towns."
East Texas : its history and its makers, Counties of East Texas, 1940.