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Wood County, Texas

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MINEOLA AND WOOD COUNTY

EARLY HISTORY OF MINEOLA.

The origin of the name of Mineola remains an unsettled Question. It is said that the railroad people intended that the town should be called Junction City from the simultaneous conjunction of the two railroads here, but in some unknown manner that name was defeated. There is a common belief among the citizens of the city that the town was named by a Mr. Burnett of Galveston who. as representative of the Texas Land company, before the founding of the town, purchased for 50 cents an acre the land on which Mineola is built, called the place Mineola in honor either of his little daughter named Minnie or after some other little girl or young lady by that name.

Mineola owes her existence and dates her origin from the junction of the Texas and Pacific and the International and Great Northern railroads, at a point not far from half way between Dallas and Marshall on the west and east and between Tyler and Greenville on the south and north, which was consummated In June 1S73. As the two roads, one building westward and the other to the north, grew closer and closer to the verging point the building of them became more and more interesting, as both construction crews were about equidistant from the point where they were to converge and this occasioned a very high Pitch of rivalry between the laborers building the two great railroads, and in consequence betting was indulged in considerably by sports both big and little as to which road would first be built to the point  of conjunction. Both crews worked hard and tireless laboring both night and day in order to win the race. Added to the interest and excitement  in the construction of the roads great speculation was exercised by the people, who were contemplating the founding of a new railroad town in East Texas, as to where the converging point of the two railroads would be for that point was to be the place where the new town should be located. Pretty soon the point of Junction was reached, being first obtained by the T. & P.. defeating its rival by only about thirty minutes, and the former advanced about fifty yards before the I & G  N track was laid to the goal The event was duly celebrated by the« building crews by the drinking of spirituous liquors and having a general good time in their way. The T. & P. continued its progress westward. while the I. & G. N.. which, it was believed designed to go on to Sulphur Springs, made Mineola Its permanent terminus of the Troupe extension. Eight yean afterward, however, the "Katy" system built a line of railroad from Greenville to Mineola, making a continuous line with the International and Great Northern and giving Mineola a railroad outlet in every cardinal direction—north, east, south and west.  Several months previous to the junction of the two railroads a town was started about three Quarters of a mile southeast of where the union depot now stands, being located where it was generally understood the survey of the International and Great Northern would he made to come along Some forty or fifty small cheap, rough unfinished box shanties and tents were hastily erected In a row alongside the pruning road and stocked with the various lines of goods common to frontier towns in those days. The country round about contained many tough characters of the homo genus as well as the native wild animals of more or less vicious disposition, as farms or settlements were scarce for miles around at that time and the town was frequented by so many of those barbarous characters known as desperadoes who went heavily  armed, drank bad liquors, carried blood in their eyes as it were,  and committed murder  at the slightest provocation and often times without any provocation at all. That the place was called "Hells Half Acre." But the town existed only about six months, for the location was not destined to be the point of conjunction of the two railroads where the permanent  town must be located. Then when the survey of the Texas and Pacific road was made another location was selected for the town, in the vicinity of where the cotton compress now stands and four or five stores were put up there in anticipation  of the International and Great  Northern touching the Texas and Pacfic at that point. But this location was also doomed to be a failure. Tb» lnternational and Gret Northern did at first intend to connect there and even surveyed the line thither, but subsequent; rejected the location on account of its swampy surface. Then the International and Great Northern road was made to head to tbe westward and touched the Texas & Pacific about three hundred yards west of there, striking the Texas and Pacific track at the union depot as it is at present.

There was once a man who was wiser than all the rest in anticipating  location of the junction of the two railroads. He was L R. Graham, the present manager of the wholesale grocery and feed store of L. R. Graham & Co. of Mineola. He was one of the merchants of Hell's Half Acre, but his store was built directly In the way where the International and Great Northern road was subsequently surveyed to pass along, and In consequence thereof was compelled to move same out of the road's right-of-way, and  Instead of relocating at location No. 2 (in the vicinity where the cotton compress now stands), acted upon a wiser Judgment and bought the west  corner lot on the block directly fronting on the north the future location of the union depot, the town having already been laid off, and he built,there on the first storehouse, stocked It with family groceries and became the first merchant of Mineola as permanently located even beating the two railroads to the place about two months. Sam A.  Joseph's  saloon, at the east corner of Front and Johnson streets, now standing on the lot where Mr. Graham established his business At this time the site ot the future city of Mineola was a perfect wilderness, with very few farms or settlements within a radius of ten or fifteen miles. Wild animals roamed at will Over the forests and game of all kinds was plentiful. Dear were numerous and vension a common article on the bill of faro In a short time, however, the town became the temporary abiding place of a great many people, consisting largely of woodmen and tiemakers. as well as railroad laborers, and pretty soon the place was cleared up sufficiently to give the appearance of a town under good headway to future greatness. Though the surrounding  country was sparsely settled the town at once began to be a groat trading point, attracting trade for forty miles around, on account of the scarcity of railroads in those days.

Immediately following the junction of the railroads Front street began to build up rapidly with storehouses, while in a few years the stores in the vicinity where the cotton compress now stands were either deserted or moved away. Mineola continued building up rapidly for several years end became the trading point for several counties around not yet favored with the advent of the iron horse. By l876 Front street had filled up with stores and houses began to be erected on the adjacent streets. At that time the town contained 800 or 1000 population of far more permanent character than at first. and the merchants enjoyed, or did. a tremendous business. for the trade was actually too great and pressing to be enjoyed by auyone but the most covetous-hearted The town obtained the cotton and trade from ten other counties besides Wood, viz.: Kaufman. Henderson. Van Zandt. Smith. Rains. Hunt. Delta. Upshur. Hopkins and Camp. In fact the business transacted here at that time was phenomenally large especially during the marketing of cotton, when the receipts would frequently reach 500 and 600 bales per day. The business in the stores was so pressing that the merchants would have to keep open till midnight or later to accommodate al! the customers and then many would have to remain over till next day before they could obtain their purchases. In 1878 the East Line (now S. S. and S) road was built from Greenville to Jefferson and that detached much trade from Mineola. but the increase in the number of farms opening up in the territory surrounding and still tributary to Mineola served to prevent any considerable decrease in the volume of her trade Since then the later history of Mineola is too well known to warrant a continuation of the story, so we close this historical sketch for the present. Mineola was incorporated in the spring of 1877. the confines of the municipality being a circle formed by a half mile radius with the union depot as the center. Jas. Farrell. who came from Omaha. Neb., was elected the first mayor. He now resides somewhere in West Texas. The first baord of alderman was composed of B. F. Read. S. Zuckerman. Kirk Brown. Dr. L. A. Motley. W. E. Wigley and J. C. Buchanan, only the first names being a citixen of Mineola now. B. F. McDonald was the first city marshal. George A. Cage was elected the first city treasurer bnt declined to serve because his business demanded his entire attention George W. Butler, who died here last year, was the second mayor of the city Tom Baggett was the first Justice of the peace of Mineola (No. 2) precinct after the founding of the town.



City Election. Notice is hereby given that an election will he held in the City of Mineola, Texas, on the First Tuesday in April, A. D. 1888, the- same being the 30 day of said month, to elect the following City Officers, to-wit: A City Marshal, n City Assessor and Collector. A City Treasurer, a City Attorney, and one Alderman, each from east, west and south wards. W. E. Wigley is appointed the presiding officer of the election in east ward, the voting place of .said ward to the store of W. E. Wigley, in said ward. H. E. Callahan is appointed presiding officer of the election to be held in west ward, and the voting place of said ward to be the Mayors office in said ward. Jno. C, Allen is appointed presiding officer of the election to be held hi the south ward and the voting place of said ward to he at the Henrietta Hotel, in said ward. Done by order of the City Council, at its regular adjourned meeting on Feb 13th, 1888. L Sparkman, Mayor L A Denson Acting Sec"y



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