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SCRAPPIN' VALLEY

SCRAPPIN' VALLEY. The northern edge of Scrappin' Valley blends into the Sabine National Forest. The southern half is divided by a long east-west ridge that drops off into the Sabine River bottoms. Flowing out of the ridge and running north into the valley are several creeks and branches: Rock, 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 (at 31°09' N, 93°52' W) in the northwest corner of Newton County. The ridges, drains, and valleys were settled in the nineteenth century by Anglo-Saxons, the Weekses, Conners, Lowes, Fergusons, Smiths, and Easleys, who treasured their independence and isolation and set their own rules. Scrappin' 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, which began with the killing of a Smith and a Lowe in 1883 and ended with Uncle Willis Conner and five of his six sons and one grandson dead and the remaining son in the penitentiary. A squad of Texas Rangersqv 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. A private detective working with the other feuding families pursued the fight to its conclusion. 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, claimed that 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 early-twentieth-century timber cutting. Mann Lowe, "mayor" of Scrappin' Valley in 1986, had a more particularized version of the naming of the community and the area that included the following two anecdotes. In the early 1900s on one Sunday morning in the Pine Grove Missionary Baptist Church, a young lady for some real or imagined transgression gave her fiancé 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 three of them stretched out on a dirt road. Soon after these battles a surveying crew came through and needed a name with which to identify the area. Thus it was natural that when the surveyor asked Hardy Ferguson, who happened to be on the scene, what the people called this area, he quickly and happily replied, "Scrappin' Valley!" Scrappin' Valley was a haven for moonshiners during prohibition and after. Battles over dogs, stock, fence lines, or whiskey occurred often enough that the name gained significance with outsiders. In 1932 four people were murdered in a feud between distillers; news of these murders did not reach the local sheriff until 1936. 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 want.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Joe F. Combs, Gunsmoke in the Redlands (San Antonio: Naylor, 1968).

Francis E. Abernethy

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Francis E. Abernethy, "SCRAPPIN' VALLEY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/rks20), accessed July 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.