Salem, also known as Old Salem, is on Farm Road 2829 two miles west of the Sabine River and forty-eight miles northeast of Beaumont in east central Newton County. It was first settled by Seth Swift, who came to Texas in 1835 and named the new community for his birthplace, Salem, Massachusetts. Refugees fled from Jasper County and found refuge in Salem during the Runaway Scrape. A post office was established there by 1839. The commissioners' court recognized the site as a ferry and terminal in 1846. The ferry landing lay at the mouth of Big Cow Creek and the Sabine River, on the old road to Opelousas, Louisiana. Long a center for the river trade, the original Salem had its heyday during the 1880s, when George Adams and the Cow Creek Tram Company floated logs from the area down the Sabine River to Orange. When Adams moved his logging operations two miles downstream, most of the inhabitants went with him. The post office was transferred to the new location as well. Adams abandoned the new operations in 1895, when he shifted to the newly established sawmill at Call. Although the Salem post office closed in 1897, the ferry continued to operate until 1937. During the late 1940s oil was discovered to the north and west of the present site of Salem. The population was estimated to be eighty-five in 1982 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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