Gourdneck is a small rural community located near Toledo Bend Reservoir in far southeastern Panola County. This early settlement had begun by the 1830s and provided an important stop for travelers immigrating into East Texas from Louisiana. Geographically the area was bordered on the north by the Sabine River (now the upper reaches of Toledo Bend Reservoir); on the east by DeSoto Parish, Louisiana; and on the south by present-day Shelby County. The name of Gourdneck was derived from the gourd-like shape of land formed by the meanderings of the Sabine River. Gourdneck was along a major traveling route between Carthage in Panola County and Logansport, Louisiana, and Connell's Ferry on the Sabine River linked the settlements of Galloway north of the river to Gourdneck on the south side of the river. Because of its strategic location Gourdneck was also the setting for many of the events in the bloody Regulator-Moderator War of East Texas. Both factions made use of the Sabine River ferry. Moderators Bill and Bailey McFadden, for example, often crossed the stream and passed through the Gourdneck community on their way to Shelby County. Reportedly, Regulator leader Charles Watt Moorman lived in Gourdneck and is possibly buried in the Regulator Burial Ground, a plot of land located in the area. Gourdneck did not appear on county highway maps by the 1930s, but scattered farms and homes were located in this region south of the Sabine. In the 1960s Toledo Bend Reservoir was constructed, and in 1970 Gourdneck reported a population of sixty-two. That number dropped to thirty in 1990. By 2000 a number of fishing camps were in the area, but the Gourdneck community did not appear on maps.
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