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.

The plans were short-lived, however. Manager Fred Brunsterman was shot during an argument in a Lufkin bank vault. The company then employed two different managers, but profits never met the original expectations. The last manager attempted to make money by raising cotton, potatoes, and cantaloupes, with no more success than the peaches had brought (cotton was then selling for twenty-five to fifty dollars a bale). The Manton orchard failed. The stockholders sold the land and what timber was left. F. M. Hooks and a partner leased the commissary building and the tenant houses and operated a sawmill and a planing mill at Manton. When the timber had all been cut, the Hooks Lumber Company dismantled and moved the mill. Manton acquired a post office in 1903, with William A. Hawkins serving as the first postmaster. The post office was moved to nearby Platt in 1912 and returned to Manton in 1913; it was discontinued in 1915.

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Megan Biesele | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Adopted by: Judd F Williamson
Adoption Message: for the future queen (the most beautiful woman in all of Angelina County, Tx) and princess of Manton, Tx.
Until: November 24th, 2024

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Manton is classified as a Town

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