Burkeville is at the intersection of State highways 87 and 63, seventy miles northeast of Beaumont in northeast Newton County. John Burke, for whom the town was named, laid out the plots in 1844, although settlers had apparently been in the area for some time. Upon discovering that Quicksand Creek, the place where the court officially first met, was not at the true geographic center of the county as was formerly supposed, Burkeville citizens petitioned in 1847 for their community to become county seat. Burkeville secured the honor in 1848, and an election the following year confirmed its position by a narrow 86–82 margin. The county courthouse, paid for by subscription, was located on a small tract donated by John Burke. The courthouse question was reopened, however, in 1853, when another election made Newton, a newly established settlement at the geographic center of Newton County, county seat. Burkeville citizens refused to allow the transfer without a struggle; indeed, they succeeded in temporarily restoring Burkeville as county seat in 1855. However, county officers refused to leave Newton, and the state legislature ruled in 1856 that Newton should remain county seat. As a center for local agriculture and trade, however, Burkeville remained active. It served as a Confederate arsenal during the Civil War. It had a newspaper, the Newton County Record, and profited from the growth of the lumber industry in the early 1900s. Some 600 bales of cotton were shipped from Burkeville in 1882. A small school, Blum Male and Female College, was chartered in Burkeville in 1880; it was named for Leon Blum, a Galveston merchant who owned a majority of stock in the private corporation that established the school. The institution soon became known as Burkeville School. A fire destroyed every business in Burkeville except one in 1906.
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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