Oakwood Moved To Dry Location
From Near Trinity River
Oakwood, or Oakwoods, as it was first called, could have ended up in a puddle of mud.
The town, located in Leon County, was founded in 1870 one mile north by northeast of the present location and three miles from the Trinity River.
Because of the river's frequent overflow, the town was just too muddy, although bustling. The site was chosen by the International Railroad Co. and named Oakwoods because of the quantity of post oak trees.
Mrs. Francis Hale, resident of Oakwood since 1941, has notes of the town's history through 1936, written by Mrs. Deck Moore.
"In 1878," Mrs. Hale explained, "the New York and Texas Land Co. offered to move the town to a sandier location."
And so Oakwood was moved to its present site -- an exact duplicate of the town was constructed including eight businesses and eight residential blocks on the north side of the railroad tracks.
Like other towns fortunate enough to be built along the iron horse lines, Oakwood grew with the railroad. In the years between 1879 and 1884, most of the population of Butler moved to Oakwood.
Early settlers, and there were many, included A. E. Cutler, W. E. Holley, Mrs. Addie Wiley, Dr. J. W. Murdock and the Hammitt, Mays, Gills and Waldrin families.
As the town grew, the Oakwood settlers recorded their first death, in 1881, while in 1885 the first son was sent off to college.
In 1884, a Methodist Church was built, according to Mrs. Moore's notes, but Mrs. Hale says there is disagreement in Oakwood as to when the church was actually built and by whom.
A tannery, distillery and cotton gin were operating in the late '80s, but in 1891, disaster struck and the town was destroyed by fire.
"Three times, in 1891, 1908 and 1917, the town burned to the ground," Mrs. Hale said. "And in 1922, the south side was burned and re-built in 1923."
Each time the hardy settlers re-constructed Oakwood, and in 1901 the first bank was built and called the Wiley-McKenzie Bank. In 1912, a lighting system was established, and citizens had a water and sewage system by 1928.
Officials of the railroad town included A. T. Clark, first mayor when the town incorporated in 1905; John Perry, first justice of the peace; and John Perrin, postmaster.
Children first attended school in Oakwood in the back room of a blacksmith shop, and a building was constructed for classes in 1884.
In 1896, children attended classes in a two-story frame structure.
Mrs. Hale's husband's family came to Oakwood in 1902, and she moved to Oakwood in the 1940s. She is dedicated to preserving the history of that area, and is a member of the Leon County History Historical Association.
TX - Early Depot Scene
Early Depot Scene
Oakwood, known as Oakwoods in its earliest days, was founded in 1870 near the Trinity River along the International Railroad Co. tracks. The townsite was later moved further up the tracks and away from the Trinity. This photo is from an old album of pictures taken in the town in the early 1900's, owned by Roy Colbert and kept in the Oakwood State Bank.
Oakwood, TX -
In Oolbert's album of photos of early Oakwood is shown the H&M Hotel, which is still standing in Oakwood. Mrs. Francis Hale, Oakwood historian, says the building later was owned by Bob Knowles.
TX - Downtown, early 1900s
Osjetea Briggs, Palestine photographer, retouched this and other photos of Oakwood taken during the 1900's by a traveling photographer. Shown here is downtown Oakwood.