The first to wring profit from the land in the Burke area were the cattlemen such as James Ashworth, who arrived in Pine Valley in the late 1840s. Until after the Civil War cattle raising was the main industry in Angelina County. Pine Valley was in the thick of the cattle business and was on the Opelousas Trail that ultimately connected Pine Valley initially to New Orleans and later to Fort Worth and beyond.
After the Civil War farmers the Deep South pulled up stakes and fled the War-induced poverty of the Deep South to Texas. Bradley Prairie's rich land situated in a gap in the great pine forests of East Texas was ideal for raising cotton, and it proved an irresistable draw. Cotton gins sprang up at Burke and vicinity to bale the cotton for transport on the Houston East & West Texas Railway to Houston and Galveston for shipment to the East and to Europe. The farmers also raised vegetables, and packing thrived for a time in the 1920s and 1930s. A few farmers engaged in trapping as a winter source of income, harvesting the abundant mink and raccoons along the areas many woodland creeks.
The farmers held sway until the sawmills arrived shortly afte the railroad in the late 1880s and early 1890s to cut the abundant long leaf pine timber in the area. Slowly modern mechanical industry prevailed over agriculture until today most people in Angelina County work in some form of non-agricultural industry. Ironically, in the latter part of the 20th Century cattle raising made a comeback, using the land that was formerly used to raise cotton.