Manton, on the Texas and New Orleans Railroad eight miles east of Lufkin in north central Angelina County, was established shortly after 1900 by a group of Boston investors interested in running a commercial fruit farm in the area. The Angelina Orchard Company, incorporated around 1901 with a capital stock of $130,000, had Charles M. Conant as president, F. M. Stockton as vice president, H. S. Potter as secretary, and Fred Brunsterman as manager. This company bought 12,500 acres of cutover timberland near the site of what is now Southland Paper Mills for growing and processing fruit. The idea of raising fruit as an economic venture in Angelina County may have been fostered by the Lufkin Tribune and the Houston Post, which published articles early in the century advertising East Texas as a good peach-growing area. The author of these articles, an industrial agent for several railroad lines, had reportedly also sent out thousands of folders promoting this idea. About 1902 the Angelina Orchard Company planted 500 of its 12,500 acres in peach trees, 350 in pear, and 150 in plum. The company planned to plant 500 more acres a year until the entire tract was under cultivation. The farm was envisioned as a community and business center. The company built tenant houses for orchard employees, a commissary, a school, and a church. Also planned were a canning factory, a sawmill, more tenant houses, and a spur railroad.
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