Our Mission

We are here to serve Buna and the surrounding communities. Our goal is to promote economic growth and prosperity for our town.

Chamber Officers

John Hargrove

John Hargrove


Deshone Lee

Deshone Lee


Ruth Beaver

Ruth Beaver


Eddie Maxwell

Eddie Maxwell


The Chamber

The earliest chamber of commerce in the United States came about on April 22, 1912. They named it the US Chamber of Commerce, and it still exists today. Yet it’s not the oldest. The first chamber of commerce ever created came about in 1599 in Marseille, France. Its purpose was to gather merchants, industrialists, traders, and craftsmen in order to discuss and tackle community challenges.


The chamber of commerce was a place of unity, even among competitors. Their voice soon became a persuasive power amidst public authorities and the community. So much so that more would pop up throughout the centuries, and even throughout the world.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is still serving as a spearhead which focuses on protecting the interests of American businesses. Yet numerous smaller chambers have cropped up throughout the nation as a voice for local area businesses. Their purpose is the same, just on a smaller scale. Local chambers tackle both issues and trends taking place in their community as well as offer resources and services to help local businesses succeed. It isn’t just a goodwill effort, but an effective strategy.


Consider these statistics from American Business Magazine:

  • 44% of consumers are more likely to think favorably of businesses who are members of their local chamber
  • 63% of consumers are more likely to buy products or services from businesses who are members of their local chamber
  • Consumers view chamber of commerce members as trustworthy and are 12% more likely to believe their products or services are better than competitors

History of the Buna Chamber of Commerce

Article pulled from “Buna Remembered: The Times”

In the 1911-12 school annual, the public relations for the Buna settlement began with a paid advertisement by Robert C. Withers. The ad stated:


“The Railroads would starve if the farmers were to stop furnishing the freight. East Texas invites real farmers to come and join us. Cheap lands, pure water, bountiful rainfall and an unexcelled climate. Let us raise peaches, figs, pears, oranges, “garden truck” strawberries, peanuts, pop corn, peas, corn, oats, cotton, and hay, Irish and sweet potatoes, sugar cane, and other farm products of the soil. This will be the future home for horses, cattle, sheep, goats, and hogs. Write to me and we will show you.”


Was this the real beginning of the first Chamber of Commerce?

Buna Civic Club

The next records located were written in 1919 at the meeting of the Buna Civic Club held on Monday night of July 28 where W. Hargrove, chairman, presided. From the notes it appears the group had been meeting for some time for the purpose of caring for the community of Buna. A Sanitary Committee made a report on weed cutting and assembly of tin cans to contain the rubbish of the town. Members added to the Finance Committee were E.A. Wright and E.E. Richardson. DE. Gunter suggested that the club get a number of display cards, setting forth the objective of the Civic Club and setting out a few rules of health.

Buna Commercial Association

In 1926, a booklet was printed by the group of businessmen in town containing 48 pages extolling the virtues of the Land of Opportunity in Southeast Texas, Buna, Texas. Asking you to send for this book, it tells in a simple, straightforward manner of a land “richly endowed by nature, where one’s prosperity is limited only by his own ambition and effort.”


In the Beaumont Enterprise of March 6, 1932, the story of Buna is given good coverage with names, dates and important events. The reporter states that Buna possesses what every small town should have – a community house. “Here the chamber of commerce has its headquarters, and in the building the farmers of a large area, cooperating with the commercial organization, hold their meetings and plan truck crops.”


Another article in that same issue mentions the name of L.G. Hilliard, superintendent of Buna schools. “He is more than merely the school head of Buna, for he engages in all civic activities and movements for the upbuilding of Buna’s territory. He is chairman of the Buna Chamber of Commerce, whose chief work is with agriculture.”

Reorganization of Civic Club

In a typewritten statement dated February 15, 1945, an obvious reorganization of the existing Civic Club was held: “We, the men of Buna and surrounding territory, met and discussed conditions in general, and in order to promote better living conditions and to build a finer community in which to live organized the Buna Civic Club. Through this organization we hope to promote better Civic conditions by assisting in the stress of Law enforcement, building up a mutual feeling of Civic pride and community welfare, discussing needs of the Community and what we as interested men can do for the local Community.”


The following officers were elected by unanimous vote of the men present: President, Glenn R. Roberts; Vice-President, HW. Mattox; Secretary-Treasurer, J.V. Walters; Advisory Committee: Robert Cummings, T.A. Barker, W.W. Mixson, Ellis Cook: Membership Committee: H.B. Stephenson, Carl Elliott, J.W. Jones: Entertainment: Charles Weimer, Leonard Anderson, Burke Hargrove; Sanitation: B.A. Mitchel, Howard Williams, D.B. Ferrell.


At that same meeting the question of street lights was discussed with W.C. Cooper, supervisor for the Jasper-Newton Electric Cooperative, Inc. being present. He assured the Club that lights could and would be installed at a cost not to exceed one and one-half cents per K.W. with the number of lights to be installed to be decided at a later date. T. A. Barker was instructed to contact the highway department with reference to erecting a speed limit sign through town.


(This treasure of information came to us from Raymond Doyle Walters whose father was the Secretary of the Buna Civic Club for a number of years and had possession of this ledger.)


In March of 1945, the BISD school board notes state, “…school to take out membership in the Buna Civic Club and that the school, as a place of business, will give financial help in obtaining lights for the town of Buna.”


In the Kirbyville Banner of November 28, 1947, under “Buna Notes” by Mrs. Arcay Walters: The principal speaker for the banquet program held by the Buna Civic Club Thursday, November 20, at the community house was W.H. McMullen, Boy Scout executive or Beaumont. Thirty Lions of the Kirbyville Lions Club were in attendance and rendered an interesting program. Food was furnished by local women and flowers were furnished by Mrs. Mixson and Mrs. Victor Rogers of Bea’s Flower shop.


On February 15, 1949, the Buna Civic Club met in special sesssion with thirteen members present. The meeting was called to elect and install officers for the coming year. Installed were J.V. Walters. President, Glenn B. Roberts: Vice President, Robert Cummings, Secretary/Treasurer. Refreshments of cake and chocolate were served as it was the Fourth anniversary of the club. At the next meeting Lewis Bond was elected the 2nd Vice president and J.V. Walters resigned as President and became Secretary upon the resignation of Cummings.


The final entry was dated May 3, 1949. At that meeting, discussion was focused on organizing a Buna Lion’s Club. The Civic Club continued to function into the 1950s; perhaps it was replaced with the organization of the present chamber of commerce, or did it become the basis for the Lions Club? Inside information regarding the development of Buna during the years from 1945 through 1949 can be researched in the Buna Civic Club ledger.

Proposed Chamber of Commerce

“First steps toward a proposed Chamber of Commerce for Buna were made at an informational meeting last Friday,” states the Buna East Texan on June 26, 1963.


“A handful of Buna citizens discussed the need for such an organization in the Buna area and heard Howard Hicks, manager of the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce, explain some of the activities and requirements of a chamber.”


Outcome of the meeting was a call to the public to determine if sufficient interest could be generated to promote a chamber of commerce here. Attending the meeting were Mr. and Mrs. Ward Mixson, Jim Walters, Mrs. Irma Jenkins, Mrs. Lillie Walters, J.E. Adams, Joe Mosby and Gene Keeler. No steps toward naming officers of committees were taken at the meeting.


It was pointed out that a chamber is not a civic or a social club, nor is it a political organization. Instead it is a voluntary group of citizens who invest their time and money, dues, in a community development program, working together to improve the economic, civic and cultural facilities of the area.

Buna Chamber of Commerce Officially Organized

Approximately 65 Buna citizens and civic leaders voted unanimously to organize a chamber of commerce at an open meeting Friday night, July 26, 1963 in the Communty Room of the East Texas State Bank. The meeting outlined the purposes and structure of a chamber of commerce. Guest speaker was Robert W. Akers, president of the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce.


The Buna Chamber of Commerce adopted bylaws and elected directors at its first membership luncheon on Monday at Jim’s Cafe. The directors in turn held an executive session and elected officers.


Officers were J.E. Adams, president; Jim Walters, vice-president; Mrs. Irene Mixson, secretary-treasurer. Those were also directors. Other directors were Robert Cummings, C.B. Duhon, Ben Ellison, Roy Jenkins, Dan Lay and Jiles Sowell. The new organization had 51 charter members and the official organization date was July 26, 1963.


The Buna East Texan of July 31, 1963, editorial “We ain’t seen nothing yet…” states:


“We believe that we are safe to say this chamber of commerce will be a lively, active organization, if the interest shown at the first meeting is any indication. Of course, a chamber of commerce takes work-lots of it-and often the hardest and best workers are the most criticized by the watcher, ‘nonworkers’ just like in any other organization.


“This chamber of commerce is as necessary as anything else in the orderly, progressive, beneficial growth of our community. We don’t think a chamber of commerce automatically means better jobs or more money for all of us, and probably many of the benefits will go unnoticed or unappreciated by most of us.


“But an active chamber of commerce can mean planned development for us all-and planning is a mighty big factor in a growing community. We can think of a half-dozen towns not so far from here that ‘just grew’ like Topsy, and they are a confused hodgepodge today. Therefore we feel that it is urgent for each and every interested and able citizen to invest his time and dues in the Buna Chamber of Commerce. Joining, then letting ‘George’ do it isn’t enough, we don’t have enough ‘Georges’ to go around. We need you to help.”


Installation of officers was held in the Buna High School Cafeteria on November 15, 1963.


Beginning in February of 1964, the prospects a new hospital in Buna and everything concerned with its operation dominated the noon luncheon meetings at Jim’s Cafe. J.E. Adams, president of the Chamber, discussed location, cost and plans while Wayne Butchee, who would be hospital administrator, gave pertinent information regarding equipment and furnishings. Mr. Robert Cummings, superintendent of Buna ISD, gave a detailed report on the forthcoming school construction and improvements. During the next few months, attention was given to the promotion of a garden club and a clean-up campaign. Mrs. Fairy Scott Smith was selected as “Member Of the Month” for outstanding work as chairman of the Civic Improvement Committee. The end of the year found the Chamber proclaiming Buna “Hub of the Golden Wheel” with three signs to be erected on three entrance routes to the community.


During the next decade, the Chamber of Commerce participated in ribbon-cuttings of many new businesses, witnessed population and school growth, enjoyed pageants and parades, and were willing partners in the town’s constant growth. Leaders were found among newcomers as well as the stalwarts of the community. Always a contributor of worthy causes, the Chamber continued its giving with money made from community activities.


During the 70s and ’80s the C of C was instrumental in organizing and leading Buna in its “Redbud Festival” which became a huge event visited by many in Southeast Texas. Combining forces with the Buna Fire Department, which already had beauty pageants and parades, they added flea markets, shows, carnival rides, and lots of good food for the March event which heralded not only the arrival of Spring but thousands of visitors to the town.

Buna's Polka-Dot House

“The hottest item on sale in Buna is a polka dot” wrote Sharon Atkins for the Beaumont Enterprise in 1994. “Buna’s Chamber of Commerce office, known far and wide as The Polka-dot House needs a facelift, and chamber officials are selling dots to pay for the project.”


The house was built in 1948 by Virgil Davis who moved to Buna with his family in 1945. As he finished adding a final coat of white paint to the new house, he remembered living in Oklahoma near an Indian reservation, and how the Indians expressed their traditions and culture by painting hieroglyphics on their houses. He picked up a three pound coffee can as a pattern, stuck his brush in a can of blue paint, and proceeded to decorate the house. Many different stories have emerged about the beginning of the polka-dot house, but a grandchild relates that this is the way her grand mother Nila always told the children and grandchildren. The house was rented to school teachers, the first being Floyd K. Wright, a high school principal. The polka-dot house stayed in the Davis family until 1975, when businessman Cotton O’Dell bought it for an office. He gave the house to the chamber in 1980.


Debbie Walker, president of the Chamber of Commerce in 1994, and other chamber officials, initiated a drive to raise funds to repair the house and have fun while doing it. The idea was to sell “dots” to Buna citizens, and there is a plaque inside the chamber building listing those who contributed to that cause. “Buna would not be Buna without the polka-dot house,” Walker said.

Citizen of the Year

Each year the Buna Chamber of Commerce has an Awards Banquet recognizing citizens and organizations for outstanding service to the community during the past year. In 1972, the first Citizen of the Year Award was announced and presented to Bob Cummings, Superintendent of the Buna Independent School District since 1944.

"A small business is an amazing way to serve and leave an impact on the world you live in."

History of Buna

Buna's Early Settlers: Farmers, Loggers, and Hunters
Article pulled from “Buna Remembered: The People”

Few records are available today of the first families to settle the Buna area, but fortunately we still have a few people living who listened to stories told by their parents and grandparents, enabling us to piece together some of the events of those early years. In many of our conversations with these old-time residents, we hear of the great forests that had been virtually untouched by human hands when these early settlers arrived.


The virgin pine timber that did so much for the economy of East Texas in the late 1800s and early 1900s, was considered a nuisance by early settlers, most of whom depended upon farming for their livelihood. Before the coming of railroads and tram roads, there was no way to transport huge logs to distant mills except those trees growing near rivers.

As settlers moved in and began clearing their fields in the area that would later become Buna, they found stands of huge longleaf pine timber in the higher elevations and thick stands of hardwoods in bottomlands. Being situated at the edge of what later became known as the “Big Thicket” all the land was covered with timber of one kind or another with no open prairie that could be easily converted into farmland.


Since the tools for clearing land consisted mostly of crosscut saw, shovel, and double-bit axe, many hours of hard labor were required before a farmer could put in his first crop. Although 75 percent of the “old growth” pines varied between two and three feet in diameter, the rest exceeded three feet with records of some trees reaching five feet in diameter. Some logs were transported to small portable mills and sawed into rough boards and timbers; but for the most part, after the farmers split hardwood rails for their fences, cut a supply of firewood, and built their log cabins, the other logs were simply piled and burned.


Farmers found the soil in this part of East Texas ideal for such things as cotton, corn, peas, potatoes, and sugar cane. Fruit trees were abundant as well as other vegetable crops, but, like farmers everywhere, they had their share of freezes, droughts, and floods to contend with. With the abundant wild life in the area, farmers were also plagued by deer that ate their crops and black bear that preyed on their young livestock. The bears also had a taste for honey, and would destroy beehives to get at the tasty honey inside.


Always eager to mix business and pleasure, many of the early settlers took their hounds and went forth on organized hunts for these marauding bear. The most widely known of these early hunters in the Buna-Cairo Springs area was Valentine J. “Tine” Withers, who was born June 2, 1818, south of Louisville, Kentucky, near the Ohio River. His father, Matthew Kane Withers, moved the family to Teneha Creek in Shelby County, in April, 1837. In 1861 Tine moved from Shelby County to Jasper County.


Later area residents known for their love of bear hunting included Jerry Dunn, Andrew Jackson Whitmire, and John Wiley Morse.

Early Logging Camps, Lumber Companies & Railroads

Article pulled from “Buna Remembered: The Places”

The late eighteen and early nineteen hundreds ushered in the great logging bonanza in East Texas, instituted by such men as Simon Wiess, Alexander Gilmer, Henry Lutcher, Thomas Temple, and John Henry Kirby.


Beaumont was the point of origin of several railroad lines which were later incorporated into larger systems. The Beaumont Lumber Company built a tram from Buna to Ford’s Bluff, renamed Evadale, on the Neches River.


John Henry Kirby later bought the tram line and converted it to a common carrier line. The revamped railroad was called the Gulf, Beaumont and Kansas City. He then extended this rail line from Kirbyville to Beaumont in 1895. In 1902, the Santa Fe extended this line northward through Jasper and San Augustine.

Buna’s economic position was solidified when that same year the Orange and Northwestern Railway linked the logging town with Orange. Four years later the Orange and Northwestern was extended from Buna to Newton.


Main lines branched off the railroad at various points to enable the big lumber companies to efficiently cut and transport the prime timber to their mills. Spur lines branched off about every half mile or so into the company’s holdings. These tram lines were hurriedly constructed with little grading and without benefit of a built-up road bed. The cross-ties, usually oak or pine, were laid flat on the ground by the steel gang, with many crooks and turns to miss obstructions along the way. Then came the sections of rail laid and spiked precisely 4 feet, 8½ inches wide and connected together with bolted splice bars.


Kirby did not use narrow gauge rails (3 feet wide) on his spurs and main lines. Any rolling stock that could move on the trams could also travel on the main railroad.

The Santa Fe Depot

Upon completion of the Buna Santa Fe Depot in the 1890s, a community dance was held on the depot platform. Serving passenger trains, cattle cars, and sheep cars, in addition to its primary purpose for logging operations, the depot provided express service as well as telegrams sent by Morse Code.


Located near the junction of Highway 62 and Business 96, it adjoined a building called the
“Old tomato shed” which is now a part of Stimits Feed Store.

Buna In Its Early Stages

The effect of the railroads on the lumber industry was most remarkable. Lumber mills sprang up in the forests, and near them, as did related businesses and towns. Soon lumber outstripped cotton as the cash crop. The population of East Texas grew as the mills provided jobs.


In East Texas Mill Towns and Ghost Towns, W.T. Block explains that the “Yellow Bluff Tram Company [established in 1892], needing facilities for its growing camp, built a commissary and many company-owned houses for its loggers along the railroad tracks in Buna.”


The section houses consisted of three houses which were located on one side of the road and the men took care of that end of the track. Three houses were on the other side and the men took care of that end of the track. The company-owned store had everything from groceries to medicine for the crews.


The town and installations had acquired first rate status as a logging supplier with Beaumont Lumber Company, providing the most wood of more than a dozen logging camps for that company. This is illustrated in a chart in The Standard Blue Book of Texas, 1908-09.


The Yellow Bluff Tram Company facilities, including the town, were acquired by the Kirby Lumber Company in 1901 and continued to serve as a logging camp.

The Kirby Logging Camp

Article pulled from “Buna Remembered: The Places”

In 1904, the population of Buna as a Kirby Lumber Company logging camp was about 800 people. The camp director was Lee Weathersby.


In spite of being a small camp, the community was well supplied with stores. The Kirby store, commissary as it was called, was located by the tracks near the intersection of Business 96 and Highway 62. Then the Mixson Brothers store was established in 1905. It was a wooden structure located on Highway 62, across from the school.


Kirby also had a hotel erected where the Gulf Service was on the corner. The hotel was run by various families who lived there and people who rented the building. It was torn down around 1920 and the service station was constructed.

After the Bessmay sawmill was completed in 1903, Buna grew rapidly, supplying logs to the new mill. Its prominence began to diminish as the timber supply became exhausted, and John Henry Kirby closed the Buna site in 1909. The Bessmay mill continued its operations and both towns experienced growth for a period of time. Many small towns that came into being in the late 1800s and early 1900s around logging camps and sawmills simply faded away and became ghost towns when these industries ceased operations. Buna could easily have fallen victim to these circumstances had it not been for the tenacity and resourcefulness of its residents. These hardy individuals had found a place they loved and overcame great hardships in order to stay on the land of their fathers and grandfathers.

The Evolution of Buna's Name

Article pulled from “Buna Remembered: The Places”

In southern Jasper County on the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad, Beaumont Lumber Company established a logging camp in 1892. He put his brother, Joseph, in charge as manager of the logging camp, the Yellow Bluff Tram Co. Joseph A. Carroll named the site, Carrolla. Thus, according to The Handbook of Texas, Buna’s history began.


The oldest logging camp in the county was at Cairo, later called Cairo Springs for the springs near Cairo school. The first post office in the area was established there in 1876; however a reduction in logging activities, which began in 1882, caused the post office to close by 1892. A new one was to open at Carrolla, which served the same area. Postal authorities refused to consider the name of Carrolla, due to its similarity to other sawmill towns.


So Joseph renamed the logging camp, Bunah, in honor of one of his nieces who visited the small community and charmed the residents. Maggie and Emily Richardson, in interviews, recalled her visit and departure and the suggestion that the town be named Bunah. When the post office sent the information to Washington, all the papers came back with the name spelled “Buna.” The name endured as did the town. Bunah Corley, whose married name was Bass, was last known to live in El Campti, Louisiana, and never was known to have returned to Buna.