Bleakwood is at the junction of Farm Road 363 and U.S. Highway 87, forty-five miles north of Beaumont in west central Newton County. One of the first settlers in the area was Thomas S. McFarland, who established a plantation home. The post office that served the area from 1850 to 1860 was called Cotland, presumably after a San Augustine County residence sold by McFarland in 1838. The post office was moved a short distance in 1867 and renamed Bleakwood by T. L. McDonald, in honor of his former home in Scotland. In 1883 officials again moved the post office, this time to the community that had grown up around Jessie Lee's grist and saw mills. The area's rich forests attracted the interest of large lumber industries, which began to penetrate Newton County in the late 1890s. The Jasper and Eastern Railway between Kirbyville and the Sabine River was completed in 1905, and the Orange and Northwestern linked Newton to Orange by 1906. These lines gave Bleakwood early railroad connections to move timber to processing plants. In its heyday just after 1900, Bleakwood had the post office, two general stores, sawmills, and a railroad depot. At least one small lumber company seems to have been based there in 1910. From 1928 to 1942 the E. E. McDonald Lumber Company operated a large plant at Bleakwood. Despite the company's departure and a major flood that temporarily severed Bleakwood's railroad links in the early twentieth century, the community remained a shipping point for logs, ties, staves, and pulpwood. The Bleakwood post office closed in 1943. An 1890 estimate set the population at fifty-eight; subsequent figures through 1950 range from fifty to 150. By 1966, however, the community's population had increased to about 300, and it remained at that level through 2000.
Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.
Robert Wooster | © Texas State Historical Association
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