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Brownwood, Brown County, Texas


Notes: BROWNWOOD, TEXAS. Brownwood is on Pecan Bayou at the intersection of U.S. highways 67, 84, and 377, Farm Road 2524, and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in south central Brown County. The city and the county are named for Henry Stevenson Brown. The area was settled by farmers and cattle ranchers like Welcome W. Chandler and J. H. Fowler. When the sparsely populated county was organized in 1857, the hamlet of Brownwood was chosen as county seat. A post office was opened in the town the following year. The town was originally located on the east side of Pecan Bayou, but in the late 1860s a land-title dispute and problems with an inadequate water supply induced the residents to move to a sixty-acre site on the west side of the bayou donated by Greenleaf Fisk. Brownwood Masonic Lodge was chartered in 1865. As late as 1872 Brownwood was a small community of two stores, a log courthouse, and about five dwellings. In 1873 John Y. Rankin purchased land around the business district and began to build homes in what became known as the Rankin Addition. In 1876, when the town had an estimated 120 inhabitants and Cumberland Presbyterian, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches, the first bank was opened and a schoolhouse was built that also served as a town hall and a church. Because Brownwood lay on a feeder line of the Western Trail, stores and saloons served the needs of the cowboys who drove the herds through town. A cotton gin was built in town in 1877 as the state of Texas began to offer the land to farmers.

The 1880s and 1890s were decades of dramatic growth for the community, as the population increased from 725 in 1880 to 2,176 in 1890 and 3,965 in 1900. The town became a center of the Farmers' Alliance with the building of the West Texas District Alliance Cotton Yard and the establishment of an alliance paper, the weekly Freemans Journal. Other newspapers that have been published in the community include the Brownwood Gazette, Bulletin, and Appeal, the Pecan Valley News, the Texas Immigration and Stock Farmer, Living Issues, and the Brown County Banner. In 1885 the Brownwood Daily Bee became the town's first daily paper. The courthouse burned in 1880, and a new one was completed in 1884. In 1884, when Brownwood incorporated, the town had two banks, nine general stores, five saloons, two hotels, and steam cotton and grist mills. The following year the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad built through Brownwood, and in 1886 the town built its first waterworks. An opera house was built in the late 1880s. By 1890 the town had five churches, an icehouse, a fire department, and a sanitarium. A second railroad, the Fort Worth and Rio Grande, built through Brownwood in 1891. There were also significant developments in education during these years. Several local schools were consolidated to form the Brownwood Independent School District in 1883. In 1889 two colleges opened their doors in Brownwood—Daniel Baker College, founded by the Presbyterians, and Howard Payne College, a Baptist institution. Daniel Baker closed, and its campus became part of Howard Payne College in 1953.

By 1900, the city was dominated by the cotton industry. It supported the West Texas Compress Company, the Brownwood Cotton Oil Mill, and sixteen cotton gins. Severe flooding that year covered parts of the town with up to ten feet of water. Prohibition became popular in the town in the 1890s, and in 1903, after a series of violent incidents, the town's saloons were closed. Equally rowdy drinking clubs sprang up in response to the saloon closings, and a stretch of one street became known as "Battle Row." The population of Brownwood continued to climb, reaching 6,967 in 1910 and 8,223 in 1920, and in spite of the boll weevil infestation and other problems in the cotton industry, the city was the largest cotton-buying center west of Fort Worth by 1920. A third railroad, the Brownwood North and South, was built in 1912 to connect Brownwood with the Brown County community of May, but the short-lived railroad lost money and was abandoned in 1927. Brownwood went through two boom periods in the first half of the twentieth century, the first stimulated by the oil industry, the second by the building of a military installation during World War II. Oil was first discovered near Brownwood in 1917, but the town did not become a major oil-industry site until the 1920s. The population of the city shot up from 8,223 in 1920 to 12,789 in 1930, and estimates from the late 1920s indicate it might have been as high as 15,000. At one time during the boom the city had twenty-five manufacturing and industrial plants in operation. Brownwood's growth was also reflected in the changing percentage of county residents who lived in the town; though fewer than a quarter of Brown County residents lived in Brownwood in 1900, almost half lived in the city by 1930. The pace of development slowed in the 1930s, though the city benefited from the completion of Lake Brownwood in 1933 and several area WPA projects. In 1940 Brownwood had 13,398 inhabitants, some 52 percent of the Brown County population.

In the fall of 1940, as part of the military buildup associated with the peacetime draft, a military-training installation, Camp Bowieqv, was built to the south and southwest of town. The camp eventually became the largest military training center in Texas, and had a major impact on the city of Brownwood. By December 1940 the 13,500 workers at the camp exceeded the 1940 population of the city; by March 1941 Brownwood's population was counted at 22,479, and by some estimates the wartime population eventually reached considerably more than 50,000. The massive influx of workers, the families of military personnel, and soldiers seeking off-base housing created a severe housing shortage in Brownwood, which started the boom in September of 1940 with a mere 200 vacant dwelling units. City residents coped by turning a skating rink into a dormitory, by allowing patrons to bed down in a movie theater after the final show, by subdividing the existing housing stock, and by the building of additional housing units. Though much of the development in town was ephemeral, the wartime boom left the city with better roads and streets, improved sanitation and medical facilities, a municipal airport, and a supply of new housing and business units.

With the closing of Camp Bowie in 1946 Brownwood's wartime gains began to slip away. Attempts to sustain the growth rate of the war years were blocked by the seven-year drought of the late 1940s and early 1950s and its deleterious impact on the agribusiness of the region. In spite of the postwar depression, the city numbered 20,140 inhabitants, 71 percent of the county population, in 1950. Business revolved around wool, oil, poultry, livestock, peanuts, and pecans. Part of the business district burned down in 1953. Brownwood's population declined during the 1950s by more than 15 percent to 16,974 in 1960, and has remained relatively static over the next forty years, with 17,368 inhabitants in 1970, 19,203 in 1980, 18,387 in 1990, and 18,813 in 2000. The growth of nearby Early, located at the old site of Brownwood on the east side of Pecan Bayou has kept the combined population of the two cities at around 20,000; they comprised almost three-quarters of the county inhabitants in 1970. After the old city auditorium, the Memorial Hall, burned in 1960, the city built Brownwood Coliseum in 1963. In the 1970s Brownwood manufactured industrial and transportation equipment, furniture, clothing, woolen goods, crushed stone, livestock drenches, feeds, and also food, glass, plastic, and leather products. In the 1980s important businesses included meat packing, commercial printing, and the manufacture of plumbing fixtures, leather gloves, oilfield machinery and construction equipment. In 2000, with the development of other county communities, the Brownwood-Early area held only 57 percent of Brown County's population, but the city remained an important distributing center for the county and the region. Area attractions included Lake Brownwood State Recreation Area, Camp Bowie Memorial Park, and the Brown County Museum of History.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Tessica Martin, "Brownwood, Texas, in World War II," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 43 (1967). Tevis Clyde Smith, From the Memories of Men (Brownwood, Texas, 1954). Tevis Clyde Smith, Frontier's Generation (Brownwood, Texas, 1931; 2d ed. 1980). Tevis Clyde Smith, Pecan Valley Days (Brownwood, Texas, 1958).
Mark Odintz, "BROWNWOOD, TX," Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 15, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Latitude: 31.70932, Longitude: -98.991161


Matches 1 to 19 of 19

   Last Name, Given Name(s)    Birth    Person ID 
1 Atwood, A.B.   P10461
2 Atwood, M.A.   P10462
3 Curbo, Infant Boy  3 Oct 1923Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P7761
4 Curbo, Jo Anne  5 Sep 1933Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P7762
5 Curbow, C.A.   P1036
6 Curbow, D.L.   P7
7 Curbow, D.L.   P39
8 Curbow, L.L.   P40
9 Curbow, R.L.   P38
10 Davis, Benjimin Franklin  23 Dec 1889Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P23935
11 Denman, C.A.   P7944
12 Dodds, Charles Robert  28 Dec 1904Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1337
13 Egger, Betty Lucille  17 Feb 1938Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P6601
14 Ham, C.T.   P1015
15 Henley, David Hobson  17 Feb 1904Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P15195
16 Henley, Edward Bertrand  12 Jan 1899Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P21678
17 Riordan, Larry Floyd  28 Sept 1942Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P11358
18 Shannon, Wayne Ladeau  3 Jul 1936Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P7778
19 Watson, Eva Mearle  3 Aug 1906Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1022


Matches 1 to 50 of 56

1 2 Next»

   Last Name, Given Name(s)    Died    Person ID 
1 Arnold, Robert Preston  10 Dec 1918Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P977
2 Ashton, Joseph Franklin  1975Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P6677
3 Atwood, Albert  30 Oct 1979Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P5927
4 Bachman, Johnnie Pauline  27 Feb 1978Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P10197
5 Brown, Eunice Marie  31 Jul 2001Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P5882
6 Bush, Vardie Allen  25 Oct 1950Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P11244
7 Cornelius, Clifton Uluesfer  4 Jul 1976Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1039
8 Courtright, Mary Lou  20 Apr 1988Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1038
9 Curbo, Bertie Maud  25 Feb 1921Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P7766
10 Curbo, David Arthur  5 Jul 1987Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P5701
11 Curbo, Infant Boy  3 Oct 1923Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P7761
12 Curbo, William Robert "Taylor"  30 Oct 1980Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P5702
13 Dodds, Charles Robert  12 May 1989Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1337
14 Edmiston, Howard  9 Apr 1963Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P15194
15 Egger, Allie  15 Oct 1953Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1026
16 Egger, Betty Lucille  31 Dec 2002Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P6601
17 Egger, Cora Lorene  8 Feb 2010Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P6602
18 Egger, Homer Oliver  21 Apr 1987Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P2162
19 Egger, John Minter  18 Jan 1929Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1088
20 Fleming, Joseph Alton  30 Apr 1993Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P10248
21 Ford, Odessa Frances  2 May 1972Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1085
22 Fore, Ethel Mae  7 Nov 1942Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P5941
23 Frierson, Mottie  26 Jun 1970Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P964
24 Goins, Cora Irene  18 Jul 2005Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P6603
25 Goins, John Christopher Columbus  6 Feb 1960Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P6605
26 Goins, Stella  27 May 1975Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P2161
27 Ham, Bobbie Janine  20 July 1933Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1020
28 Ham, Cecil Clemons  20 Jun 1976Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P198
29 Ham, Jardie Allen  26 Jun 1982Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P197
30 Ham, Robert Joel  28 Dec 1955Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P209
31 Ham, Samuel David Jr.  21 Jan 1927Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1258
32 Ham, Samuel David  28 Nov 1976Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P208
33 Harris, Johnnie  22 Dec 2005Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1336
34 Havins, William Eastland  28 Apr 1939Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P246
35 Henley, David Hobson  16 Dec 1975Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P15195
36 Henley, Edward Bertrand  Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P21677
37 Henley, Edward Bertrand  Jan 1980Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P21678
38 Huff, Nancy Ann  8 Apr 1941Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P12649
39 Jones, Carrie Ann  9 Feb 1967Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P10853
40 Jones, Lottie Marie  7 Feb 1937Brownwood, Brown County, Texas I800
41 Kennedy, Tabitha Clementine  3 Feb 1939Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P199
42 McDaniel, Billie Joyce  21 Oct 1937Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1139
43 McKnight, John Walker  7 Feb 1954Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1222
44 Minica, Albert Robert  29 Nov 1940Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P6615
45 Perkins, William Pinkney  5 Nov 1966Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1219
46 Pressley, Doris Killebrew  Oct 1984Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P15136
47 Pressley, Ruby Lee  3 Nov 1979Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P15138
48 Puckett, Floyd Marshall  12 Dec 1934Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1268
49 Reece, Lou Cordelia  25 Apr 1961Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P6604
50 Renfro, Florida Alef  Feb 1962Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P21676

1 2 Next»


Matches 1 to 20 of 20

   Last Name, Given Name(s)    Buried    Person ID 
1 Curbow, Roy Oliver  1 Jul 1968Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P42
2 Edmiston, Howard  Aft 9 Apr 1963Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P15194
3 Egger, Cora Lorene  10 Feb 2010Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P6602
4 Ford, Odessa Frances  3 May 1972Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1085
5 Freeman, Emma Murrell  Aft 29 Aug 2002Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1021
6 Goins, John Christopher Columbus  8 Feb 1960Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P6605
7 Ham, Cecil Clemons  Aft 20 Jun 1976Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P198
8 Ham, Mabel Jemima  Aft 4 Sept 1977Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P207
9 Ham, Robert Joel  29 Dec 1955Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P209
10 Ham, Thelma A.  2 Sept 1970Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P194
11 Havins, Thomas Robert Jr.  After 20 Feb 1995Brownwood, Brown County, Texas  P962
12 James, Artie Mae  25 May 1984Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1203
13 Kennedy, Tabitha Clementine  4 Feb 1939Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P199
14 McKnight, James Walker Jr.  Aft 27 Dec 2000Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1220
15 McKnight, John Walker  8 Feb 1954Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1222
16 Minica, Oliver Bud  Aft 29 Jan 1987Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P6610
17 Puckett, Floyd Marshall  15 Dec 1934Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1268
18 Reece, Lou Cordelia  27 Apr 1961Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P6604
19 Smith, Leona Belle  Aft 2 Mar 1985Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P11447
20 Watson, Donna Lou  Aft 30 Jul 1997Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1061

Birth of Daughter

Matches 1 to 1 of 1

   Last Name, Given Name(s)    Birth of Daughter    Person ID 
1 Curbow, Roy Orville  14 Oct 1950Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P64

Birth of Son

Matches 1 to 2 of 2

   Last Name, Given Name(s)    Birth of Son    Person ID 
1 Curbow, Roy Oliver  27 Apr 1939Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P42
2 Ham, Robert Montgomery  29 Mar 1891Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P200


Matches 1 to 17 of 17

   Last Name, Given Name(s)    Census    Person ID 
1 Barr, Mary Gwenell  1920Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P10420
2 Clark, Clois Quintis  1930Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P10101
3 Dodds, Charles Robert  1910Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1337
4 Dodds, Charles Robert  1930Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1337
5 Frierson, Mottie  1930Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P964
6 Ham, Mabel Jemima  1940Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P207
7 Havins, Thomas Robert  1930Brownwood, Brown County, Texas  P952
8 Havins, Thomas Robert Jr.  1930Brownwood, Brown County, Texas  P962
9 Head, Louisa Alice  1930Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P11373
10 Jackson, Whaley Wagnon  10 Apr 1930Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P10094
11 McAdams, Jessie  1920Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P10421
12 McAdams, Joseph Brosius  3 Feb 1920Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P10096
13 Riordan, William Claude  1940Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P11359
14 Sparkman, M.E.   P11372
15 Sparkman, William Travis  1930Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P11374
16 Staton, Harris Jr.  1940Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P11355
17 Watson, Donna Lou  1920Brownwood, Brown County, Texas  P1061

Death of Parent

Matches 1 to 1 of 1

   Last Name, Given Name(s)    Death of Parent    Person ID 
1 Ham, William Neal  3 Feb 1939Brownwood, Brown County, Texas  P66


Matches 1 to 5 of 5

   Last Name, Given Name(s)    Education    Person ID 
1 Curbow, D.L.   P7
2 Curbow, L.L.   P40
3 Dodds, M.L.   P37
4 Havins, Thomas Robert  1927Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P952
5 Havins, T.R. III   I161


Matches 1 to 4 of 4

   Last Name, Given Name(s)    Memberships    Person ID 
1 Curbow, D.L.   P7
2 Curbow, Gene Oliver  Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P63
3 Curbow, Roy Oliver  Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P42
4 Curbow, Roy Orville  Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P64


Matches 1 to 1 of 1

   Last Name, Given Name(s)    Military    Person ID 
1 Straley, James Leland  5 Nov 1940Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P2719

Newspaper Event

Matches 1 to 4 of 4

   Last Name, Given Name(s)    Newspaper Event    Person ID 
1 Curbow, Roy Oliver  25 Apr 1965Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P42
2 Dodds, Charles Robert  26 Mar 1965Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1337
3 Ham, Allie Ernestine  12 Apr 1953Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P41
4 Harris, Johnnie  26 Mar 1965Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1336


Matches 1 to 3 of 3

   Last Name, Given Name(s)    Occupation    Person ID 
1 Curbow, D.L.   P7
2 Havins, Thomas Robert  1923Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P952
3 Havins, Thomas Robert  1931Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P952


Matches 1 to 6 of 6

   Last Name, Given Name(s)    Religion    Person ID 
1 Curbow, D.L.   P7
2 Curbow, D.L.   P7
3 Curbow, D.L.   P7
4 Curbow, D.L.   P7
5 Curbow, J.L.   P5
6 Curbow, L.L.   P40


Matches 1 to 33 of 33

   Last Name, Given Name(s)    Residence    Person ID 
1 Barnett, Ruby Dora  1928Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1260
2 Bethel, A.D.   P990
3 Cason, Jesse Bernard  1955Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P11357
4 Curbow, D.L.   P7
5 Curbow, G.O. Jr.   P1047
6 Curbow, G.O. Jr.   P1047
7 Curbow, Roy Oliver  1939Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P42
8 Curbow, Roy Oliver  1947Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P42
9 Curbow, Roy Oliver  1955Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P42
10 Curbow, Roy Oliver  1959Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P42
11 Curbow, Roy Oliver  Feb 1965Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P42
12 Curbow, Roy Orville  1947Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P64
13 Frierson, Mottie  26 Mar 1943Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P964
14 Ham, Allie Ernestine  1969Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P41
15 Ham, Cecil Clemons  1959Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P198
16 Ham, Cecil Clyde  1959Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1013
17 Ham, C.T.   P1015
18 Ham, E.R.   P1257
19 Ham, Jardie Allen  1955Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P197
20 Ham, Jardie Allen  1959Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P197
21 Ham, Mabel Jemima  1923Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P207
22 Ham, Mabel Jemima  1928Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P207
23 Ham, Moszell  1955Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1018
24 Ham, Robert Joel  5 Jun 1917Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P209
25 Ham, Samuel David  1928Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P208
26 Henkel, N.R.   P10121
27 Kennedy, Tabitha Clementine  1928Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P199
28 Kunkel, T.J.   P6001
29 Kunkel, T.J.   P6001
30 McAdams, Jessie  9 Sept 1918Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P10421
31 McKnight, James Walker Jr.  1947Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P1220
32 Smith, Leona Belle  1947Brownwood, Brown County, Texas  P11447
33 Straley, James Leland  1947Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P2719


Matches 1 to 1 of 1

   Last Name, Given Name(s)    Retired    Person ID 
1 Havins, Thomas Robert  1961Brownwood, Brown County, Texas P952


Matches 1 to 6 of 6

   Family    Married    Family ID 
1 Curbow / Cornelius  5 Oct 1946Brownwood, Brown County, Texas F183
2 Curbow / Rector   F186
3 Curbow / Willmon   F188
4 Ham / Johnson   F414
5 Holland / Keller  12 Nov 1936Brownwood, Brown County, Texas F7302
6 Straley / Henkel   F2331