17 Slices
Medium 9781574411751


James J. Cozine Jr. University of North Texas Press PDF


1. Maxine Johnston, “Twenty-five Years of Milestones: Big Thicket National Preserve,” manuscript found in Big Thicket National Preserve Library,

Big Thicket National Preserve, Beaumont, Texas, 1999, p. 1.

2. See above, pp. 162–64.

3. Johnston, “Twenty-five Years,” 1–3.

4. “Complete the Preserve,” Beaumont Enterprise, November 11, 1981, sec. A.

5. Joe Fohn, “Big Thicket Group Upset by Stalled Land Acquisition,”

San Antonio Express, November 26, 1982, sec. B.

6. Richard Connelly, “Out of the Thicket,” Texas Lawyer, April 20, 1992, p. 16.

7. Steve Moore, “Title Hassles Snag Thicket Land Sales,” Beaumont Enterprise, October 8, 1978, sec. D.

8. “Jewell Honored,” Big Thicket Bulletin, no.11 (September 11, 1994): 8.

9. Pete A.Y. Gunter, The Big Thicket: An Ecological Reevaluation (Denton,

TX: University of North Texas Press, 1993), 99–100.

10. Geraldine Watson, Reflections on the Neches, Temple Big Thicket Series 3 (Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, 2003), 248–50.

11. National Park Service. Briefing Statement for Jennifer Yezek, aide to

See All Chapters
Medium 9781574411751


James J. Cozine Jr. University of North Texas Press PDF


Notes to Chapter I


Richard G. Lillard, The Great Forest (New York: Alfred A. Knape, 1947), 4.

Berton Roueche, “The Witness Tree,” New Yorker, August 31, 1968, 64.


Texas Observer 70 (November 27, 1970), 18.




The New Encyclopedia of Texas, ed. Elias A. Davis and Edwin H. Grabe,

2 vols. (Dallas: Texas Development Bureau, n.d.), I:32; The Handbook of Texas, ed. Walter Prescott Webb, 2 vols. (Austin: TSHA, 1952), I:160–61.


Frederick W. Simonds, The Geography of Texas, Physical and Political

(Boston: Ginn and Co., 1914), 52; U.S. Department of Agriculture, Division of Biological Survey, Biological Survey of Texas, Vernon Bailey. Bulletin No. 25

(Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1905), 107; Texas, University of Texas, The Natural Regions of Texas, Elmer H. Johnson. University of Texas

Bulletin No. 3113 (Austin: University of Texas, 1931), 62.


Hal B. Parks, Victor L. Cory, et al., The Fauna and Flora of the Big Thicket

Area (n.p., 1936), 4, 6, 10. The fourteen counties were: Newton, Jasper, Polk,

See All Chapters
Medium 9781574411751

CHAPTER VII The Drive for Preservation

James J. Cozine Jr. University of North Texas Press PDF


The Drive for Preservation


n 1831, Stephen F. Austin proclaimed that his sole ambition was “The redemption of Texas from the wilderness.”1 In less than one hundred years, Austin’s dream for the Lone Star State had been nearly fulfilled.

During the last half of the nineteenth century and the first two decades of the twentieth century, hundreds of thousands of people poured into Texas.

Railroads and highways crisscrossed the state. Bonanza timber operators, oil explorers, farmers, and cattlemen had whittled away sizable portions of the wilderness. By 1920, the Big Thicket was being depleted as were other wild regions of the state.

Some residents of the Big Thicket began to react against the wanton destruction. In 1927, R. E. Jackson, a railroad conductor whose route carried him through a portion of the Big Thicket, organized the East Texas

Big Thicket Association at his home in Silsbee, Texas. The Association’s motive was not the redemption of Texas, but rather the salvation of the wilderness. Their goal was simple. They merely wished to preserve for posterity a sizable portion of the Big Thicket in its natural state.2 Jackson, a man of strong conviction, personally attempted to preserve a portion of the Thicket by leasing 18,000 acres of land in the southeast corner of Polk

See All Chapters
Medium 9781574411751

photo gallery

James J. Cozine Jr. University of North Texas Press PDF
Medium 9781574411751

CHAPTER VIII The Yarborough Years

James J. Cozine Jr. University of North Texas Press PDF


The Yarborough Years


enator Ralph Yarborough had heard tales about the Big Thicket during his childhood days in Henderson County just north of the Big

Thicket region. As a youth, Yarborough listened to his father spin yarns about his hunting exploits in the Thicket. The Big Thicket became an almost legendary land to the impressionable boy. Fired by these stories, young Yarborough envisioned the Thicket as the “Bali Hai land.”1

However, as his youth passed, the vision of the Big Thicket faded as other pursuits captured his interest. At age eighteen, Yarborough left Texas and journeyed to Europe on a cattleboat. One year later he returned home, entered college, and eventually graduated from the University of Texas

Law School. An appointment as assistant attorney general by Governor

James Allred whetted Yarborough’s political appetite, and in 1938, he ran for attorney general. During this campaign, Yarborough renewed his acquaintance with the Big Thicket. As he drove along the unpaved roads of the region, he was awed by the beauty and solitude of the woods. It was during this campaign that the Big Thicket “physically impressed itself” on his conscience.2

See All Chapters

See All Slices