For names of places and/or communities’ names, Newton County can match any for picturesque names. One example is that of “Scrapping Valley.” It is located in the northern part of the county and according to what people say it gained that name early in the 1900s. A resident of that community tells the story of the community like this:
“Every since back in 1918 or 19 this section of Newton County has been known as Scrapping Valley. Folks here have been timber men ever since they settled in the deep, thick north Newton County hills. They’ve farmed, raised good cattle and kept hogs in the woods. The open range is still the policy here.
Folks started calling it Scrapping Valley. The highway department began putting up signs that said Scrapping Valley.
There were no roads into Scrapping Valley for many years. Fact is, they’re twisting, bumpy dirt roads now. “They were just pig trails one followed around stumps and roots in a two-mule wagon. Sometimes it took four mules to pull a wagon load of corn up a hill.
The railroad engineer would deliver groceries on Fridays. Each family would give the railroad engineer a bill of groceries early in the week. On Friday they would hear him coming, blowing that whistle, and all the folks would hitch up their wagons and go down the hill to the tracks. The engineer would have all the orders filled. The groceries he got at the Remlig commissary where all had credit.”
“This used to be a busy place. There was a sawmill camp just over the hill and there were several houses scattered around. Nothing much left now.
“This has been mostly a peaceable place to live, but there have been rough times.”
The northern edge of Scrappin* Valley blends into the Sabine National Forest. The southern half is divided by a long east-west ridge that runs east until it drops off into the Sabine River bottoms. Flowing out of the ridge and running north into the valley are several creeks and branches: Rock Creek, Big Sandy and Little Sandy, McKim, Dinkhorse, Hurricane, and Ole Doc, to name a few.
The center of the Valley, demographically if not geographically, is the community of Scrappin’ Valley in the northwest corner of Newton County.
The ridges, drains, and valleys were settled in the nineteenth century by Anglo-Saxon stock – Weekses, Conners, Lowes, Fergusons, Smiths, Easleys – who treasured their independence and isolation and pretty well set their own rules. Scrapping was a part of their way of life in the maintenance of territory and dominance.
The most famous scrap in the Valley was the Smith-Lowe-Conner feud that began with the killing of a Smith and Lowe in 1883 and ended with Uncle Willis Conner and five of his six sons dead and the remaining one in the penitentiary. A squad of Texas Rangers who went into the Valley to arrest the Conners was soundly defeated – one killed, the rest seriously wounded.- and they never returned to complete their business. That bloody episode could very well have given Scrappin’ Valley its name, but tradition says that it was not named until around 1905.
Dean Tevis, a feature writer for the Beaumont Enterprise in the 1930s, said Scrappin’ Valley got its name from the battling, brawling sawmill towns – the Gilmer Lumber Company towns in particular “that were spawned in the wake of Valley timber cutting in the early nineteenth century.
Mann Lowe, the present “mayor” of Scrappin’ Valley, has a more particularized version of the naming of the community and the area. The following two episodes are prefatory in the tradition.
In 1905 two episodes occurred to reinforce the “scrappin'” personality of the area in the minds of the locals. On one Sunday morning in the Pine Grove Missionary Baptist Church, a young lady, for some real or imagined transgression, gave her fiancee such a thrashing that the entire valley community – all of whom were connoisseurs of the art of thrashing – was impressed. Before the dust from this altercation had settled, a family squabble between two generations of Fergusons left all three stretched out on a dirt road at battle’s end.
Scrappin’ Valley was a haven for moonshiners during Prohibition and after. Battles over dogs or stock, fence lines or whiskey occurred often enough that the name gained significance with outsiders. One could get into a scrap nowadays in the Valley if he went looking for it.
The hills and valleys are now covered with second and third growth pine, except for great expanses where the lumber companies have clear cut. Game is fairly abundant in the area, and hunting clubs have fenced off the old free range of hogs and cattle. But the creeks still run clear and the old families still hunt and fish whenever and wherever they feel the need. It is a rich part of East Texas, naturally and historically.
The Scrapping Valley Story – By Landon Bradshaw
The Pine Grove Missionary Baptist Church is in Scrapping Valley, but the Scrapping Valley Lodge is five miles away.
Scapping Valley is usually remembered as the Remlig logging front. But a community was here long before Remlig was built in 1904. Early settlers included members of the Lowe, Hyden, Easley, Ferguson, McElroy, Shiver, Hopson, Eillis and Williams families.
“First church services were held here under a red oak tree by Rev. Henry Cry in 1907,” says Man Lowe, who was born and raised in the community.
According to Man, the place was known as Pine Grove until it was changed by Hardy Ferguson after the advent of the logging front.
It seems that in church one Sunday, Cannon Lowe was attacked by two jealous sisters, Clara and Haley Smith. Cannon came out on the little end of the horn that day, but, apparently he didn’t hold a grudge. He later married Clara.
The next day after the light in church, Dan Lowe and Fowl McElroy got into a fight at the logging front. Henry Lowe tried to stop the fight, but Fowl McElroy grabbed a poleax and chased Dan and Henry out of the woods.
“We ought to call this place Scrapping Valley,” Hardy Ferguron said.
The name stuck. From that day on. Scrapping Valley has fired the imaginations of feature writers. As a consequence, many wild yarns about Scrapping Valley have been perpetrated.
About 1935, when the body of Richard Ridgeway was exhumed from a grave in the middle of the road from Bay Springs, it was rumored that the man had been killed by Pete Wells. But this was never proved. Pete Wells was dead and buried when Ridgeway’s body was found.
This didn’t stop writers from saying the deed was done in Scrapping Valley, seven miles to the north and that the community was the toughest place on earth.
“There’s one way in and no way out,” one writer for a national magazine said. “The people of Scrapping Valley have never seen an electric light or heard of a telephone.”
That man didn’t research his story. A telephone system was in operation in the community, just after the turn of the century, with Lorena Jones of Yellowpine operating the switchboard.
And Pete Ellis operated his own Delco electric plant in Scrapping Valley during the 1920’s.
The yarn about there being one way in and no way out was the most preposterous of all. It’s a well known fact that more than one man made a bigger hole leaving out of Scrapping Valley than he did coming in.
At the time it was First applied, the name Scrapping Valley was well-earned and fitting. It’s doubtful you’ll find anyone who’ll disagree with that statement.