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 Texas : Towns A-Z / Central Texas N : Whitney

WHITNEY, TEXAS

Hill County, North Central Texas
Highway 22, FM 933 and FM 1244
2 Miles SE of Lake Whitney
12 Miles SW of Hillsboro
Population: 1,833 (2000)

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Whitney Tx Cumberland Presbyterian Church
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2007

History in a Pecan Shell

Established in 1876 with the arrival of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, things really got started in November of 1879 when lots were auctioned off. The town’s namesake was Charles A. Whitney, brother-in-law of New York financer J. P. Morgan, an investor in the H&TC.

Whitney became a boom town (without having to discover oil). Tents served as stores and the smaller nearby towns moved their businesses to Whitney for the railroad connection. The nearby towns of Towash and Hamilton Springs even moved their post offices to Whitney although a Whitney post office didn’t open until 1880.

Crops in 1880 were a dismal failure and the town was so low on flour that bread became a rare treat. The railroad had promised a bushel of corn for each resident on the first train to arrive, but the need was so great that the gift lasted for months.

In 1880 the first bank opened and three years later the population was estimated to be 1,200. A proper schoolhouse was built in 1884 but a decline in residents had already started when the town was hit by a devastating fire in 1885.

Rebuilding was done in brick but the population had shrunk to 400 in 1890. In the latter part of the 19th Century and early 20th, passenger travel was a good part of railroad income and the train companies provided “excursions” where whole towns would travel to another part of their state to see the greener grass.

Whitney threw a huge picnic in 1891 and with promotion by the railroad, people visited from as far away as Austin County. The event was a surprising success and enough people from the event pushed the population back over the 1,000 mark.

Whitney was affected by the boll weevil infestation of the 20s and in 1930 the population was back to 750 residents. Relief projects during the Great Depression added to the town’s infrastructure and employed some residents, but that was all.

The Whitney Dam and Reservoir Project (1944-1953) had longer-lasting effects. The population had grown to 1,379 by 1950 and the power plant started producing electricity in 1953. After dam construction, the population dipped again – to 1,050 for the 1960 census.

The town suffered an economic recession and nearly 16,000 acres that had once been growing crops were flooded by the lake.

The Lake Whitney Association was formed in the early 1950 to promote the lake as a recreational destination. By 1972 the population hit a high of 1,500.

A tornado struck the town on May 23, 1971 killing one but causing considerable property damage. The 1990 population was reported as 1,626, growing to the present 1,833 (2000).

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Whitney Historical Marker >
Whitney Memorial Park Historical Marker >
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Whitney Tx King Memorial Methodist Church
King Memorial Methodist Church
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2007
Whitney Tx Cumberland Presbyterian Memorial Fountain
Cumberland Presbyterian Memorial Fountain
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2007
Whitney Tx Famous Whitney Bench
The famous benches in Whitney
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2007
Whitney Tx Bench Battle Sign
The Famous Battle of the Benches
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2007
Downtown Whitney
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2007
Ice cold Big Red
Ice Cold Big Red
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2007
Painted signs in Whitney Texas
More signs
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2007
Whitney Texas water tower
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2007
Whitney Texas marker
Whitney Texas Historical marker
109-111 West Washington Street, Whitney
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2007
Whitney Historical Marker Text

Whitney

Whitney, the first railroad town in Hill County, was established in 1879 on the route of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad and was named for railroad investor Charles A. Whitney. Lots in the new town were sold at a "Grand Picnic" on November 25, 1879. An eager crowd bid on the lots which sold at prices ranging between $100 and $750. Several merchants who purchased lots established "tent stores" while carpenters worked night and day to complete wooden frame stores. Soon a central business district was in operation.

The new town included a post office, bank, school, several churches, civic organizations, a newspaper, and many businesses. The opera house was the cultural center for entertainment, offering theatrical and musical productions and, later, movies. Several devastating fires burned much of the downtown area over the years, but the citizens rebuilt each time.

The building of nearby Whitney Dam caused the town's population to expand in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and brought increased tourism from those visiting the newly created Lake Whitney. The town of Whitney observed its 100th birthday on November 25, 1979. A centennial celebration included a parade, musical entertainment, and fireworks.
Whitney Texascemetery marker
See Whitney Memorial Park
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2007
Historical Marker Text

Whitney Memorial Park

The construction of Whitney Dam caused the creation of this cemetery in 1950 for the reinterment of 1260 graves from six historic cemeteries in Hill and Bosque counties. Before Lake Whitney inundated several pioneer cemeteries, all of the gravesites and monuments were moved here and placed on nearly 24 acres purchased for the Brazos Valley graves.

The Captain Wilson Cemetery was originally located about six miles southwest of Whitney and named for Civil War veteran and politician J. M. C. Wilson. The earliest documented burial was from 1857. The Walling Bend Cemetery, dating from 1863, was named for Jesse Walling, who served in the Texas legislature. The two Schuler place cemeteries were located on the Bosque County side of Lake Whitney, and contained 14 graves, many of the Basye Family. The cemetery that served the Towash community was located about five miles west of Whitney. The earliest known burial was that of A. J. and J. J. Dyer in 1864. Their descendants included a member of the Texas Legislature, the first chief justice of Hill County and owners of a flour and grist mill. The Degraffenreid graveyard, located about three miles west of Whitney, was the largest of the six cemeteries moved with 685 graves.
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