Stephen F. Austin State University

The Sawmill Town of Peason, Louisiana (August 2011)

The Sawmill Town of Peason, Louisianna

By Rickey Robertson

By the 1890's the railroad and lumbering industry came to East Texas and Western Louisiana's large virgin forests. In 1916, A.J. Peavy, a lumberman and logger from East Texas, came to Sabine Parish, La. and with his partner, R.J. Wilson, purchased 40,000 acres of land in the southeast section of the parish. This was a great partnership. Mr. Peavy was experienced as a logger and lumberman and Mr. Wilson was experienced in mill management. The men planned their sawmill town, and using the first 3 letters of Mr. Peavy's name and the last 3 of Mr. Wilson's, the town was named PEASON. Mr. Peavy was well known in East Texas as a lumberman, having several companies such as Peavy-Byrnes, Peavy-Moore, Peavy-Welsh, and Peavy-Wilson Lumber Companies.
The sawmill and town were built beginning in March 1917. The town was wholly company owned and had many amenities not seen in other towns. The town had running water, electricity, commissary, drug store, hotel with 134 rooms, theater, garage, icehouse, church, and a large school known as Peason High School. The first graduating class was in 1922. The company also had its own rail line that ran from Sandel, La. on the KCS Line to Peason. The railroad was known as the Christie & Eastern and hauled passengers, freight, and logs. In its heyday 2000 people lived and worked in Peason.

During its peak production, the Peason Mill was billed as the largest pine lumber operation west of the Mississippi River. The average monthly production was nearly 4 million board feet. In the mid 1920's the mill ran a double shift and produced nearly 7 million board feet monthly. Spur logging lines ran throughout the area. Log trains brought in huge loads of virgin pine timber. But even with mechanical loaders and skidders, the company had to have ox, mule, and horse teams to drag out logs from inaccessible locations. My grandfather, O.A. Robertson, son of a blacksmith, after returning from the Army in World War I, trained his own and the company teams of oxen and mules. In 1922 Peavy-Wilson Company bought him a new log wagon to haul heavier and larger loads of logs on.

The mill run ended in 1935 during the Great Depression. Peavy-Wilson Company owned a large block of land near Holipaw, Florida, and the mill and town were moved there by rail, where it operated until 1947. Little is left of the old mill and town but memories. On June 23, 2007 the Peason Historical Foundation dedicated the Peason Memorial Park, complete with historical marker and photo kiosk's, in memory of this great sawmill town. Stop by and visit this beautiful park located on La. Hwy. 118 in the Peason Community and remember the great town and mill that once dominated the area.
Peason has many unique items, with two old sayings with special meaning: "If you ever take a drink of Peason water, you'll always come back to Peason!" and the other "to the folks who live in Peason, a stranger is just a friend we haven't met yet". Come and drink some Peason water with us Peason folks and let's make friends !