Newton County is in southeastern Texas on the Louisiana border. Newton, the geographic center and largest town of the county, is seventy miles northeast of Beaumont.
Newton County comprises 950 square miles of the lower regions of the East Texas timber belt. Common trees include longleaf pines, oak, magnolia, hickory, and cypress. The rolling terrain, ranges from 30 to 300 feet above sea level. The Sabine River forms the county’s eastern boundary. Major tributaries in the county include, from north to south, Little Cow Creek, Quicksand Creek, Big Cow Creek, and Big Cypress Creek. Temperatures range from an average high in July of 93 F to an average January low of 40 F. Rainfall averages just over fifty-four inches annually, the highest for any county in the state. The growing season extends for 228 days per year. The issue of the location of the courthouse dominated Newton County’s early history. Electors originally voted to place the seat at the center of the county, and the first commissioners’ court meetings convened near Quicksand Creek as a result. However, citizens of Burkeville successfully petitioned the Texas legislature to make their town the county seat in 1848. Voters narrowly approved the new location the following year. In 1853 a dispute concerning land titles, followed by yet another election, resulted in the move of offices to Newton, a newly established community at the geographic center of the county. Burkeville citizens refused to give up the struggle, and an 1855 plebiscite favored Burkeville by a small majority. County officials refused to leave Newton, however, convincing the legislature to recognize that city as the proper seat of government where it has since remained. Agriculture remained important from 1880 to 1930. The number of farms in Newton County early doubled during the fifty-year period. Corn, cotton, cattle, and hogs served as staples in the county’s agricultural economy. Early lumbermen used animal teams or creeks to pull or float their cut timber to the Sabine River, where it was then floated downstream to Orange. Capitalizing on the region’s huge expanses of virgin forests, large timber interests became involved in Newton County during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Toledo Bend Reservoir, along the northern boundary, provided new recreational facilities and attracted tourist to Newton County. The decline in agriculture from 1930 to 1960 seems to have been halted. The number of farms, which fell from a high of 1,565 in 1940 to a low of 192 in 1959, increased to 323 in 1982. While cotton-growing has virtually disappeared in Newton County, farmers have produced increasing amount of hay, and cattle raising continues to play an important role in the county’s economy. More importantly, proper forest management and reforestation programs have in recent years rejuvenated the county’s available timber resources, and in 1990 forestry was the main agricultural activity in the county. Mission: To provide quality, relevant outreach and continuing education programs and services to the people of Newton County. Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.