Devil's Pocket is seven miles north of Deweyville in the southeast part of Newton County (at 30°27' N, 93°44' W). It is a flat, pie-shaped area bounded on the west by Nichols Creek, which runs southeast into the Sabine River, the eastern boundary of Devil's Pocket. The northern boundary is Slaydon's Creek, which also runs into the Sabine. Settlers of East Texas were late in coming into the area, and in the nineteenth century it was known primarily for being the home of brush-loving longhorn cattle. Later it became a noted hunting reserve. This land between the creeks was a maze of hummocks and swamps, and the cattle that lived there were wild and hard to gather. Local residents have at least three explanations for the area's ominous name. One holds that early settlers, already plagued by bad luck and poor weather, saw a meteor hit the earth in the dense basin forest. This meteor's impact is said to have formed a depression that became a small lake. A second version holds that outlaws and other unsavory characters used the area as a hideout. Still a third account argues that the Devil's Pocket derived its name from the large numbers of water moccasins that inhabited the stagnant pools left there by a change in the course of the Sabine River. Solomon Alexander Wright, recalling the area as it was in the 1880s, said that "it would be hard to find a country more desolate." He described it at the time he was working stock there around 1900 as "swampy, brush country, with some open pinewoods" where the cattle grazed and bedded down. He said that during the roundup the cowboys always worked the Devil's Pocket first because it was the hardest drive and "the very devil to work"-yet another possible source for its name. This part of Southeast Texas is still referred to as the Devil's Pocket, or the Pocket. Most of its inhabitants now live on a loop at the terminal east end of Farm Road 253, which circles an island of relatively high ground. The poorly drained bottomland is now dominated by eastern cottonwood and sweet gum trees, with understory vegetation that includes pine-hill bluestem, switch cane, and sedge.
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.
Francis Edward Abernethy | © Texas State Historical Association
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