About Pinebox, Texas
The Pinebox area in east Texas was first colonized under the Mexican Colonization Law passed in 1825. The Empresario contracted by the Mexican government to bring settlers to the area, Carter Greystone, had previously been a successful farmer and businessman in Virginia. After the death of his wife and son to pneumonia in 1823, Carter left his home to “explore the frontier”. According to his journal, he transported the bodies of his wife and son to Texas to be buried near his new home because he could not bear being separated.
After receiving his contract from the Mexican government in 1825, Carter quickly recruited 400 families. In late 1826, the first families arrived and settled around the lake now named Lake Greystone. By 1828 over 600 families had been attracted by the promise of grants and fertile land. Carter applied to the Mexican government for more land, but in September of 1829, after receiving no response, took matters into his own hands.
Taking a dozen families, he entered the Big Thicket with the intention of building another settlement upriver from Lake Greystone. His younger brother, William, who had come to Texas in 1827 with his wife and 3 daughters, assumed leadership of the settlement. As weeks turned to months with no word from the new settlement, William feared that Carter had been set upon the Karankawa Indians. Although he sent a request to Mexico for troops (to protect the settlers and to locate Carter’s lost band, his request went unanswered.) for protection and perhaps to locate his brother, again their request went unanswered.
In spring of 1830 William formed a militia to search for the missing settlers. Traveling upriver, they found clothing scraps and some busted trunks. No other evidence was ever found of Carter or the families who traveled with him. The modern assumption is that the Greystone party was set upon by the Karankawas, but historical evidence in the form of journals and letters speaks of something darker inhabiting the woods– something the natives had known to avoid for decades.
With the war of Texas Independence in 1836, the old Empresario contracts became void. William continued to play a leadership role, guiding the settlement as it grew into its official status as the town of Pinebox in 1855 and as Mayor until his death in 1875 at the age of 72.
The settlement had prospered as a farming community, but soon timber became the main industry. Many mills dotted the area, and Pinebox served as the main lumber supplier in all of east Texas. Today, Pinebox has a population of more than 33,000, and lumber still plays an important role in Pinebox’s economy. However, the single-biggest employer in the area is the college- East Texas University.
Other areas of interest:
Wilson Quarry: A sandstone quarry started by Henry Wilson in 1923. Wilson was a descendant of John Henry Wilson, an original settler of the Pinebox area. The operation lasted until 1927 when a portion of the excavation in the quarry collapsed killing Wilson. During its operation, some 8 men were killed in various accidents. After Henry’s death, Priscilla Wilson claimed the area was cursed. She closed her husband’s company, and moved to California. The quarry is now off limits because of its unstable condition.
The Burn: The Burn is an area of forest east of Pinebox that suffered a forest fire in 1957. The cause could never be determined and the 25 square mile section of forest has yet to recover.
Lake Greystone: This ancient lake is a favorite recreation spot for locals and people all over East Texas. The Texas Historical Society has sectioned off a few areas around the lake where a few original structures remain. Plans are in place to fully restore some of the structures and build a museum. The lake is also a favorite spot for conservationists and bird-watchers.
The local government of Pinebox consists of an elected 5 member City Council and a Mayor.
Mayor: Red McCoy
Council Member: Margarette Smith
Council Member: Bud Garland
Council Member: Manuel (The Man) Travis
Council Member: Linda Davis
Council Member: Fred Sibley
The city services include a fully staffed professional police force and fire department. The police chief and fire chief are both selected by the Mayor and approved by City Council. The police force has 22 police officers with 8 police sedans and 2 police vans. The fire department is manned by 20 men and has a pumper truck and ladder truck.
Police Chief: Butch Anderson
Fire Chief: Craig Roberts
Pinebox has all the modern city services, including the Carter Greystone Memorial Hospital and the Sibley-Smith Memorial Library. Pinebox also has extensive industrial and commercial sites, such as Borden Chemicals, The Golden Mark Corporation, Pinebox Papermill, The Southeast Texas Forestry Service, and headquarters to the world famous Lewis Catfish King Restaurant chain. Garland Industries continues to work one of the most productive tin mines in Texas. The Panther Club of Pinebox is very successful in fund raising activities for the local high schools and hospice services.
East Texas University is considered the jewel of education in East Texas and has developed a worldwide recognition for its leadership in historical research and folk culture studies.
Pinebox is recognized as a National Tree City, and the Dan Travis Golf Course is one of the most beautiful in East Texas. The local Fairgrounds serve as the home for the annual Pinebox Rodeo, Chili Cookoff, and East Texas Swap Meet and Festival that takes place every Halloween. Locals gather in downtown Pinebox in various costumes and sell trinkets, arts and crafts. The evening is topped off with the Moon Dance and is widely attended by the people of East Texas. The McCombs Theatre proudly produces seven shows each season and has attracted several well-known off-Broadway plays, such as Camelot and Hamlet. Pinebox offers some of the best swimming, fishing and boating in Texas, being only ten minutes from Lake Greystone, twenty minutes from Sam Rayburn and forty minutes from Toledo Bend. Many scenic walking trails crisscross the town and university, and many lead through the big thicket past wonderful old homesteads and gardens. For the more adventurous, the old El Camino Real, or King’s Highway, may be hiked to the Louisiana Border and offers tremendous vistas, campsites, animals, and natural flora. The Caddo Indian Mounds make for great campsites and the Alligator Run at Carter Slough is a sure winner with children of all ages.
Many community groups are active in Pinebox, including the Fox Hunting Society of East Texas and the Lake Greystone Conservation Association. The local humane society serves Golan County,San Augustine County, Sabine County and Jasper County Texas. The Pinebox Hospice Society Home is one of the largest in the state and has gained a reputation as a lovely place to die, surrounded by friends, serving the rich and poor alike.
Pinebox–where the pines tickle Angels’ feet, and the Devil pulls the roots.