Hardin County Village Thrived On Cotton Trade
W. T. Block
Reprinted from Beaumont ENTERPRISE, August 11, 2004, p. A8.
Another ghost town near Beaumont that readers may not be aware of was Concord, located on the north bank of Pine Island Bayou, and about 12 miles west of the Neches River. Before 1880 it was the only village between Beaumont and Woodville, and it was the river port to which all Hardin County and some Jefferson County farmers freighted their cotton.
Before 1860 the steamboats Mary Falvey and Doctor Massie called there regularly to load cotton, but the width of the bayou required that most steamers back out in order to reach the river again.
One report noted that when Capt. W. J. Spurlock mustered Company D of Spaight’s 11th Texas Battalion in April of 1861, he marched his Confederate troops to Concord, from whence they were loaded aboard the steamer Florilda for the remainder of their journey to Sabine Pass.
H.R. Green was aboard the Mary Falvey when it docked at Concord in November, 1859 to pick up cotton. The Falvey belonged to Charles H. Ruff, who owned the only saloon in Beaumont in 1856, and Capt. Charlie Burch was the Falvey’s skipper.
In 1859 the two principal business houses in Concord included Hough and Bundy, a firm that stocked both dry goods and groceries, and Johnson and Co., whose owner bought and stored the farmers’ cotton in his warehouse. In November 1859, a Galveston editor reported that:
“...Father Womack of Concord...has opened the Catfish Hotel, where travelers are certain to receive genuine hospitality, having clean sheets, good coffee, splendid food and grace said over it in quantities to suit the purchaser...”
“...Cotton and freights are pouring in here in vast quantities...and a hundred cotton wagons may be seen here at one time. ...Many land purchasers are here, heavy planters coming in with a hundred slaves, and buying of all who will sell their improved lands...”
By the time of the 1860 Concord census, “Father Womack” had died, and the Catfish Hotel was being operated by his widow Mary.
On the south bank of the bayou was Col. Saladee’s plantation, who styled himself in the 1860 census as an “inventor.” Saladee hoodwinked Green and others into believing he would soon obtain patents for his steam-driven plow and posthole digger. Instead Saladee abandoned his plantation when he couldn’t meet the payments, and it was eventually sold for taxes.
Concord declined rapidly after 1880, when the East Texas Railroad to Kountze passed a short distance away. The location received impetus again under its new name of Loeb after 1890 when deposits of yellow clay, suitable for brick-making, were discovered nearby.
In 1889 Nicholas Blanchette of Beaumont built a steam-driven brick kiln near the south bank of Pine Island Bayou. On his initial test run, he was able to produce 60,000 excellent bricks on a 10-hour shift. In July, 1891, Pattillo Higgins owned the Higgins Brick and Tile Co. nearby.
In 1895 the Diana Brick and Tile Co. kilns were built on the north side of the bayou near the ghost town of Concord, and the location took its new name from Henry Loeb, the brick company’s founder. Both locations are today within the southern limits of Lumberton, and occasionally one sees the name of Loeb perpetuated in the name of a church or business.