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Stephen F. Austin State University

Peek into Panola - Beckville (October 2013)

Peek into Panola - Beckville
By Vina Lee

Beckville, eight miles northeast of Carthage in northeastern Panola County, was established in 1850 and named for William Beck who settled there first. A post office opened in 1857. There were two churches, two steam gristmills, three general stores, a hotel, a blacksmith and a population of seventy-five by 1885.
In 1886 the Texas, Sabine Valley and Northwestern Railway was building west buying land as it went. The townspeople demanded such high prices for their property that railroad officials bypassed it a mile to the south. Joe Biggs sold his land to the railroad and a new townsite was created. Within a short time most of the businesses relocated to be near the railroad deserting the original Beckville.

The first Beckville one-room school was built in 1889 but by 1897, they had three-teachers for 150 students. In 1914 the population reached 750, but in 1917 a fire destroyed a part of the business district. The town recovered increasing farms and businesses to a thriving population of nearly 900 in 1929. The Great Depression, however, halted the town's growth but after World War II, the population remained steady around 425. The population was 848 at the last census with fifteen thriving businesses.

Beckville High School May Queen, Miss Ruby Akins, 1927. The May Pole dance became a tradition up through the 1950's in many schools and dance academies. It probably came to America through the German and British influence of folk dancing. Often with the celebration of school graduations, a Queen was chosen and the Captain of the sports team was often her escort. The boys and girls wove colored ribbons around a pole during the folk dance ritual.