Updated: Jan 30
Winnsboro to Marshall Railway photo via Wikipedia
120 years ago, In 1903, Oaklea Mansion's construction was completed, but what else was happening that year? Let's go back in time to take a look at Winnsboro in the year 1903.
Although the city of Winnsboro was already here and thriving in the late 1800s, Winnsboro had accrued more land and property, much of which is where Downtown is located today. After a survey in 1901, Winnsboro was officially incorporated and elected a Mayor, R.G. Andrews. The earliest stages of a town are always the hardest, and Mr. Andrews was not experienced enough in how a city works to make a good go at getting things done as they should be. So sometime in 1903 Mr, T.G Carlock took over as mayor. He was able to have the land re-surveyed and New boundaries established. At that point, Winnsboro re-incorporated and was able to adopt ordinances for the city. They also did a tax assessment to bring in money for city expenses. The new boundaries were a little different than the old and sometimes made for unhappy citizens when parts of their property were surveyed to be inside the city limits. One such citizen was Jerry Richardson, who was none too happy to find part of his tomato patch was now within the City limits of Winnsboro. https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth130190/m1/38/?q=1903
Poor Winnsboro had a few more years before they would get a lot of amenities that the big cities were offering. Winnsboro was a muddy mess for years as they lacked the proper money and leadership to pave roads and build sidewalks (@1913).
The citizens and Merchants of Winnsboro were in the dark for the most part in 1903, still using coal and oil lamps for heat and lighting. That year the Schluter-Whiteman Lumber Company, who used electricity for their operations, extended their lines from the plant to Winnsboro and brought lights to the city's Businesses and even a select few homes.
Today It is easy to get ice. We can go to Brookshire's or Sonic and get 10lb bags easily. Before 1903 ice was not available in Winnsboro during the summer and was hard to get during the winter. However, R.C. Campbell Built an Icehouse on his property in 1903 that would supply Winnsboro with plenty of ice. The water came from a spring on his property known as the Tan Yard Springs, the same springs that supplied the city with water. This was a major accomplishment for the city as merchants could now keep items cold, and the citizens in and around Winnsboro had ice for their tea even in the hottest summer months.
The Marshall and East Texas Railroad
One of the Biggest Lumber Companies in Winnsboro, The Schluter-Whiteman Lumber Company, was established in 1903 and, as mentioned, immediately shared its electricity with Winnsboro. Still, more than that, they built a railway in Winnsboro as well. This was to transport lumber and logs in the area easily. It went deep into the piney woods. Eventually, it would extend to Marshall, Texas, and, after that, to Elysian Fields. It was called the Marshall and East Texas Railroad. After a few years of not being appropriately maintained, it became a dangerous stretch of rail that was nicknamed "The Misery and Eternal Trouble Railroad." A few years later, It was bought by a passenger train company that made Winnsboro a major stop where passengers could rest and eat. This was a big deal for Winnsboro as it brought revenue into the city, but it also had entertainment value. There was not much to do here at the time, so huge crowds would gather to watch the trains come and out of the station.
1903 was a year of growing and growing pains for the city of Winnsboro. They were beginning to become a center of commerce and getting new technologies. The Carlock home(now Oaklea mansion) was a prominent building built by a prominent citizen. The home still stands as one of the original buildings in Winnsboro. Be sure to book a stay at the Mansion and hear more about the lovely building and beautiful city.