Stephen F. Austin State University

"Uncle Pig" of Newton County (February 2014)

"Uncle Pig" of Newton County
By Jonnie Miller

According to a 1924 Beaumont Enterprise article, Uncle "Pig" Pilgrim was one of nearly 100 slaves that helped build "...fortifications when it was feared the Yankees would make an attempt to invade Texas…" from Louisiana. At the time this 1924 article was written Uncle Pig was 83 years old and his wife "Aunt Anna" was 77 years old. The article stated Uncle Pig was "…the only survivor of the first settlers of Burkeville."

Uncle Pig was born Christmas Day, 1841 in Alabama. As an infant, Uncle Pig and his family were brought to Burkeville, Texas by Dave Ford. Aunt Anna was also born in Alabama and was brought to Texas by Benjamin Barnes.

According to Uncle Pig, Mr. Ford had a tract of 2,000 acres of land on which he grew corn, cotton, peas and pumpkins as well as raising cattle. Uncle Pig remembered that the first sawmill in the area (Weirgate) was built by a Mr. Hilkins. The sawmill was operated by water power and supplied the locals with lumber and a grist mill. Uncle Pig was the shoemaker for "the little settlement" (Burkeville). He tanned his own hides with red oak bark. In 1924 he was making "a very comfortable living by roasting peanuts and selling them to the mill employees at Weirgate."

Having outlived all those who had known him in the slavery days, Uncle Pig and Aunt Anna ended up without a home. Mr. E.F. Montgomery let Uncle Pig build a small home on his property behind his own residence. Mr. Montgomery said that house would be the home "…of the old slaves until they have laid down their labors." Even when Mr. Montgomery bought another home and moved from his residence, he refused to sell the place "…because it would disturb Uncle Pig." Uncle Pig made comfortable living selling peanuts to the mill hands at Weirgate. - Pam Wright