When the 186,000 acre Toledo Bend Reservoir was created by damming the Sabine River in the 1960s, a few communities were inundated and forever lost. I have heard tales of many communities lost in the name of progress as man-made lakes are created for purposes of water-creation, recreational opportunities, tourist attractions and hydro-electricity generation.
One such community that stands out to me is the Pine Flat Community, which was once upon a time a very close-knit community of mostly African Americans situated near the Sabine River in Southwest Sabine Parish, Louisiana. The population of the Pine Flat community numbered approximately 100 individuals and included about 50 homes.
Some information on Pine Flat was feature in a 2011 article appearing in the archives of Stephen F. Austin University. Historian Rolonda Teal wrote a bit about the Pine Flat community, along with closely neighboring Barlake and Richard Neck communities.
“Mrs. Alma Cross stated that while growing up in Pine Flat she, ‘didn’t know what black and white was,'” the article reads. Cross was further quoted, “We were all just family down there. We ate at the same table, slept in the same beds, and sometimes ate out of the same plate”.
“Pine Flat had distinct communities and surnames associated with them. For example there were the Bar Lake and Richard Neck communities whose surnames included: Gasaway, Grace, Neck, Cross, Sweet, Stallworth, Fobbs, and Hines.” The article continued, “Although these residents were mostly African American, other cultural groups also lived among them.
“Mrs. Cross described her own ancestry to illustrate the diversity of some bottom land residents. She stated that her Grandmother Lula Fobbs had Blackfoot, Choctaw, African, and Irish ancestry.
“These bottom communities were comprised of people who depended on one another for social and economic support without much regard to ethnic affiliation.”
Ponds and Lakes in the Pine Flat Community area included: Grocer Lake, Ferry Lake, Middle Lake, Spate Lake, Arthur’s Lake, Deer Lake, Tom Self Lake, Matt Fobbs Lake, McCartney Lake, Bar Lake, Green Lake, Oil Well Lake, Willow Pond and Gum Lake.
Churches were St. John’s Church, Macedonia Church, Saint Mary Church and St. James Church.