Off The Beaten Path - Winnsboro, TX

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joe817
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Off The Beaten Path - Winnsboro, TX

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Post by joe817 » Sat Aug 17, 2019 9:34 am

WINNSBORO, TEXAS. Winnsboro (Winnsborough), an incorporated city, is at the junction of State highways 11 and 37, fifteen miles northeast of Quitman in northeastern Wood County and extends into Franklin County. The town, first settled in the early 1850s, was named for John E. Wynn, an Englishman who settled in the area.

Originally the settlement's name was spelled Wynnsborough, but when a post office was established in 1855, it was changed to Winnsborough. By 1861 the community had, in addition to the post office, two general stores and a church. After the Civil War it grew rapidly; in 1876 the East Line and Red River Railroad built a narrow-gauge road west from Jefferson, and Winnsborough developed into an important local shipping center.

By 1885, Winnsborough, now incorporated, had Baptist, Methodist, and Cumberland Presbyterian churches, schools, eight steam grist and cotton gins, an opera house, a weekly newspaper, the Sentinel, and some 700 inhabitants. In 1893 the town's name was shortened to Winnsboro, evidently at the request of city leaders. In 1904 the Texas Southern Railroad built through the town, and by 1914 the flourishing community had four banks, two potteries, a public library, a cottonseed mill, two weekly newspapers, the Wide Awake and the Wortham Messenger, and a population of 2,300.

The onset of the Great Depression and plummeting cotton prices in the early 1930s combined to bring hard times for Winnsboro. The population dropped to 1,900 in 1936, and many businesses were forced to shut their doors. After World War II, however, the town began to grow again. A new hospital, a high school, and a 917-acre lake were completed. Autumn Trails, a fall nature show, featured theater productions, arts and crafts, music conventions, and other events. In 1970 the city reported 155 businesses, eight churches, a hospital, a library, and a newspaper. Since the mid-1960s the population has been steadily growing, and in 2000 Winnsboro had 3,584 residents and 354 businesses.
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Re: Off The Beaten Path - Winnsboro, TX

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Post by carlson1 » Sat Aug 17, 2019 3:10 pm

I worked the Winnsboro area in the 80's. I was assigned to Wood County. We lived in Quitman. Our youngest was born in the only hospital there and was delivered by a veterinarian. :) My mother's side of the family is from Winnsboro and owned a little grocery store south of Winnsboro in a small place called Burks Town in the 1930's. She has some property there that actually has oil wells still working about 6 miles south of Winnsboro. I love that part of Texas. Thanks for the history.
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Re: Off The Beaten Path - Winnsboro, TX

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Post by joe817 » Sat Aug 17, 2019 3:21 pm

Fascinating Carl. Thanks for the comment. :tiphat:

My MIL is from Gilmer, not to far away and we used to visit that part of Texas several times a year. You are right. It's beautiful out there.
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Re: Off The Beaten Path - Winnsboro, TX

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Post by thatguyoverthere » Sat Aug 17, 2019 5:38 pm

My wife was born and raised in Winnsboro. We still go there frequently to visit some of her family. A nice little town, though like many small towns, it has suffered some as businesses have pulled out over the years and the young people grow and leave home for the big cities.

But quite a bit of interesting history there, too. In the late 1970's, one of the few private banks left in Texas was closed after the bank owner/president committed suicide after he overextended the bank on some business loans that weren't getting paid back. Not sure what happened to the people's deposits in the bank, since it was not insured by FDIC since it was a private bank.

I was also told that the city had one of the original Carnegie Libraries. These were libraries built by Andrew Carnegie, a multi-millionaire back in the late 1800's/early 1900's. He built a couple of thousand libraries for a number of communities and universities during that time. Libraries were very important to communities - especially small communities - back in those days. I understand it was a really big deal back then to be selected for a Carnegie Library.

There's an old stone gymnasium that is still in use today that was built by the CCC (or WPA?) back during the Great Depression. It's pretty neat to see if you like that kind of old stuff.

There was also a big shootout there in town back during the Prohibition, I think. My memory is a little fuzzy on that story, but as I recall, it was something about some bars in town selling liquor, and some of the owners and some sheriff's deputies got into a gun fight one day, killing one or two of the bar owners and one or two of the deputies, maybe. I don't remember for sure, but if you go there, there is a historical marker that tells the story. I think it's like one or two blocks south of Broadway (the main road through the old downtown area).

A neat little old town, and they're working hard on creating events to bring in folks. It's worth making a quick swing through there if you're in the area.

Thanks for featuring it, Joe.

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