©2002 Dewberry Plantation

The Dewberry Story

Dewberry Plantation tours are designed to provide viewers with a complete analysis of the architectural styles used in the construction of the 1854 mansion as well as a comprehensive history of Colonel John Dewberry (1794-1877) and his impact on the settlement of East Texas. Accounts have the original plantation encompassing between 20,000 and 30,000 acres in Smith, Cherokee and Anderson Counties with the main house, named "Myrtle-Vale" by its builder because of the long walkway flanked by majestic crepe myrtles leading to the house, serving as headquarters. Myrtle-Vale is the only original two-story, pre-Civil War house still standing in Smith County.

Visitors will hear a detailed account of the impact of historical sites such as the Neches Saline, a saline used by Indians and settlers until it was covered by the waters of Lake Palestine, Saline Prairie, and the Neches, Sabine and Trinity Rivers. Guests will also be informed on the importance of the site as a campground for the officers of the Army of Republic of Texas, led by Thomas J. Rusk and Edward Burleson, prior to their final battle with the Cherokee Indians and Chief Bowles. The tour will conclude with a full account of the history of Colonel Dewberry and his family, who came to the area in 1835 from Chatham County, Georgia. Before arriving in Texas he served as a Colonel in the War of 1812. This part of the tour will include excerpts from interviews with former slaves and their living descendants.

Myrtle-Vale has been meticulously restored in 2001 according to the Department of the Interiors "Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings." All areas of the house which could be restored were done so using the original materials. In the few areas where water damage and rotting had occurred, cypress lumber was hand milled and delivered from Louisiana to match the original exterior. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as being a Texas State Historical Landmark, and it is the sincere desire of the present owners to provide Americans today with a glimpse into the life and times of Antebellum East Texas.

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