Stephen F. Austin State University

Deweyville (July 2014)

By Jonnie Miller

Deweyville was established in 1900 on a site once called Possum Bluff because there were so many of the little creatures in the area. It may have also been known before that as Drake's Landing from the owner or operator of a ferry crossing the Sabine River at the site where the present bridge is. The town was later named Deweyville in honor of Admiral Dewey.

The first mill was owned by the Newton County Lumber Company and was later sold to the Bmythe Brothers in 1897 and later still to the Sabine Tram Company. The logs were floated down from the rich forests of Newton County to the sawmill on a bend in the river on the Texas side. In 1919, the mill was sold to Peavy-Moore who operated the mill until 1942 when it was sold to Kurth Lumber Company. The next year it burned down and was never rebuilt.

The original owner of the land, H.L. Morrison, sold to Pierre Peter Lavine from Canada and Natchitoches, La. Mr. Lavine purchased the land with a team of oxen in 1886. Many of their descendants still reside in the area.

Lucy Jones traveled from Oklahoma to Deweyville in 1909 and met and married Prudhom, son of Pierre. Her uncle, John Moore ran the general store in the sawmill town. He was Lucy's mother's brother and was married to Emily Lavine, the daughter of Pierre.

Prudhom Lavine delivered the mail and passengers arriving on the Kansas City Southern train at Ruliff to Deweyville in a buggy. He and Lucy farmed several acres and had several hundred bee stands. They were plagued by opossums, mink and even wolves in the hen house.

In 1945, there was a general store where everyone seemed to gather and chat about current and past events. The building was a 25 by 50-foot shotgun building with a wood-burning, two-eye aproned iron heater set in the center. There were a couple of chairs, a hundred-pound sack of peanuts on one side and pecans on the other. A spittoon was at a convenient distance. The store, Mac's Grocery was the Trailway Bus Stop in town. Old Hwy. 87 was the main route to Louisiana and Orange.

In 2009, the Deweyville Swing Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places. This bridge is the oldest of the existing swing bridges in the State of Texas, according to the National Park Service. It was constructed in 1938 as a work-relief construction project during the Great Depression. The swing bridge crosses the Sabine River from Texas to Louisiana on State Highway 12.

"….The flood of 1953 was a difficult time. A person could get in a boat at the curve in Deweyville and row to Claybar's store at the circle. The town was completely surrounded by water. Meals were cooked and people fed in the school cafeteria. It was amazing how the spirit of everyone held to the bright side" This is a quote from Crosscuts, a publication of the Newton County Historical Commission. Deweyville has suffered at least four major floods over the years but they have not dampened the spirit of the residents of that community.