County, East Texas
30°25'22"N 95°28'44"W (30.422640, -95.478829)
Off I-45 on Hwy 75
8 Miles N of Conroe
46 Miles N of Houston
Population: 6,370 Est. (2016)
5,662 (2010) 3,985 (2000) 2,764 (1990)
in a Pecan Shell
In 1870, Richard S. Willis, a Galveston
merchant and Montgomery County landowner donated a right-of-way
to the Houston and Great Northern Railroad for a townsite. By 1872
the tracks appeared and the neighboring towns of Danville, Montgomery,
and Old Waverly started moving their businesses (and themselves)
to the rail connection.
Growth was such that by 1874 a petition was circulated to make the
new town the county seat - taking that designation from Montgomery.
By the late 1870s Willis was thriving. It had its own weekly paper,
had become a shipping center for timber and agricultural products
and even manufactured wagons and farm equipment.
In the early 1880s the Willis Male and Female College was built.
The institution taught primary classes through college although
it was only in operation through 1901.
The population reached 700 by 1890 and the town had two weekly papers
and three hotels. By 1904 the population was estimated at 832 and
growth continued for the next 20 years, although at a slower pace.
By 1914 the town had telephone service and a third weekly paper
joined the two esisting papers.
The Great Depression hit the town with a decrease in population.
From an estimated pop. of 900 in the late 20s - it was estimated
to be only 750 two years later. The slump was offset by discovery
of oil and by 1933 it was soon back to 900.
Highway 75 was constructed during the 30s and the town regained
its economic strength although the population stayed at 900 through
the 1960s. Interstate Highway 45 cut through Willis in the 1960s
and the town was further helped when Lake Conroe (5 miles West)
was built in the late 1960s to the early 1970s. Willis benefited
from the Houston and
Conroe booms after WWII
although the immediate economy remained lumber and agriculture.
From an estimated population of 1,674 in 1986, it has increased
Up with the Anson Joneses by Wanda Orton
"... Eventually, Mary Jones left Goose Creek and moved in with
Sallie and her son-in-law, R.G. Ashe, and then to the community
of Willis in Montgomery County. The widow of Texas President Anson
Jones also would become known as the mother of Harris County Judge
Cromwell Jones and the grandmother of District Judge Charles Ashe.
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic
photos, please contact