The site of Burr's Ferry, also called Burr Ferry, is on State Highway 63 and the Sabine River in northeast Newton County, about eighty miles northeast of Beaumont. The ferry was located on the middle branch of the Old Beef Trail, which ran from Huntsville, Texas, to Alexandria, Louisiana. It was known as Hickman's Ferry as late as 1840. However, an early Newton County commissioners' court meeting designated the crossing Burr's Ferry, in honor of Dr. Timothy Burr, a second cousin of Aaron Burr. Dr. Burr was an early settler in the Newton County area who eventually established a plantation on the Texas side of the Sabine River. The town that grew up around the ferry in Louisiana became an important business center for pre-Civil War Newton County. After the fall of Vicksburg in 1863 the United States War Department ordered Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks to invade Texas. In anticipation of this projected Union thrust, Confederate forces threw up breastworks on the Louisiana side of the Sabine River at Burr's Ferry. They also cleared the adjoining area on the Texas side to give their artillery a better field of fire. A Union map detailing "the best route for Military Operations from Alexandria La. to Huntsville, Texas" listed Burr's Ferry as a good crossing. The bottom on the west side was "good and hard," and a road through rolling open pine woods with ample water and suitable campsites ran to Jasper. The breastworks are still standing. One Union invasion was halted at Sabine Pass, and another projected move against Niblett's Bluff was deemed impossible because of inadequate supplies.
After the war a post office on the Louisiana side served Burr's Ferry during the years 1873–1918, 1922, and 1929–33. The ferry, which eventually included a wire cable and pulley enabling it to serve automobiles, discontinued operations in 1936, when a highway bridge connecting Texas Highway 63 and Louisiana Highway 8 was completed. The town is now a suburb of Leesville, Louisiana.
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Madeleine Martin, "Ghost Towns of the Lower Sabine River," Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record 2 (1966). Newton County Historical Commission, Glimpses of Newton County History (Burnet, Texas: Nortex, 1982). Cooper K. Ragan, ed., "The Diary of Captain George W. O'Brien, 1863," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 67 (July, October 1963, January 1964).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 29, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
November 1, 1994