|Named after a Dr. W. W. Manning who
established a sawmill in 1863, the town at
one time had over fifteen hundred
residents but that did not happen until
nearly forty years later. It was in 1903 that
a major lumber company began buying
timberlands and established a mill at the
site of Manning's earlier mill. They named
the town after their predecessor. The
lumber company in its best years
produced 34,000 000 board feet of
lumber and employed 300 workers.
Disaster struck in 1934 when fire burned
the sawmill to the ground. The owners
decided not to rebuild as the timber
reserves in the area were nearly
depleted. Then came the Great
Depression, which forced many residents
to seek employment elsewhere.
Hundreds of families moved away from
Manning and today only one original
building from the original town remains. It
is the palatial home of the mill's
|Click the photo to read
more of the book.
The beloved town where Miriam
was first sent for an education.
A town where she forever
remembered the people, places and
events that shaped her life,
allowing her to use her talent
to express her memories.
And, thus allowing us to
enjoy her remembrances
of our early pioneer relatives
that lived and worked the
sawmills of deep East Texas.
Reading the pages of Miriam's
RIVER ROAD should
allow all of us to
us with much
of what we enjoy
MANNING, TEXAS. Manning, a lumber town in the Neches River bottomlands of southeastern
Angelina County, flourished between 1903 and 1934. In 1863 a Dr. W. W. Manning constructed
a small sawmill at the site, which lies nine miles south of Huntington, near Farm Road 844. In
1885 Manning built one of the first two steam sawmills in Angelina County, on Lindsey Lake
south of Homer. Manning, who was born in 1820 in Monroe, Louisiana, brought the talents of a
druggist, physician, merchant, and industrialist to the development of Angelina County.
W. T. Carter and G. A. Kelley organized the Carter-Kelley Lumber Company in 1903, built a new
sawmill near the site of Manning's first mill, and named the site Manning. Their mill, built for
yellow pine, had the most modern machinery in its time and cut all sizes of lumber. It had a
capacity of thirty-four million board feet a year and employed 300 people. Timber was brought
to the mill from Angelina, Tyler, Polk, and Jasper counties. In 1907 the Shreveport, Houston,
and Gulf Railroad (known as "Shove Hard and Grunt") was built from Manning to Huntington to
connect the sawmill town with the Cotton Belt and the Texas and New Orleans railroads. The
Carter-Kelley Company, like many other Angelina County sawmills, issued scrip instead of
currency and served as a bank for its employees' so-called "Manning checks." Manning got a
post office in 1906 with Charles C. Gribble as postmaster.
In 1910 Manning had a population of about 700, which made it one of the largest towns in
Angelina County at the time. By 1925 it had over 1,000 residents, of whom about two-thirds
were white and one-third black. At its height the community had a seven-teacher school for
whites, a two-teacher school for blacks, a commissary, a barbershop, a movie theater, a
garage, three churches, a civic center, a drugstore, a post office, a railroad depot, and several
office buildings belonging to the lumber company. The population declined sharply after the
sawmill burned in 1934, since the mill was not rebuilt. The houses were removed and sold to
Dallas businessmen, and the schools and churches emptied quickly as mill employees left to
find work elsewhere. In 1939 the population estimate was 100. In 1945 it was thirty, and the town
had only one business left. Mail service was transferred to Huntington in 1940. Manning has not
been included in the Texas Almanac's list of cities, towns, and villages since 1947. By the 1980s
only the Manning cemetery, two houses, and the sawmill ruins were left at the site of the town.
For a long time the Flournoy family hosted a Manning reunion each year on the first Sunday in
June; in 2004 the reunion was moved to the first weekend in May.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bob Bowman, The Towns We Left Behind (Diboll, Texas: Angelina Free Press,
|Ruby Day & Miriam Tatum at Tom
Havard Cemetery June 1958
|Manning Sawmill Crew
Photo Courtesy of Anne & Ken Havard
|Hill Havard & Bill Olds in Manning 1913
|The Gibbs Mansion........the ONLY remaining original house from the Sawmill Town of Manning, Texas.
This was the home of the Sawmill Superintendent. Click the photo to go to the Retreat site.
|Ruby & Gladys Day on
Pumpkin Street in Manning, Texas
Notice the new high chair, the cast iron
pot and the horse.