Fertile Farmland to Growing Suburb
Whitewright is a small rural town in North Texas located in Fannin and Grayson counties. The city is bisected by US Route 69 which heads 20 miles northwest to Denison, 33 miles southeast to Greenville and the southern portion of the city is crossed by State Highway 11 which provides easy access to Commerce and Sherman.
The town was founded in 1878 by William Whitewright, a New York businessman who purchased a piece of land that was on the soon-to-be-completed rail line of the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad that was extending its rails throughout the county. Whitewright had the area surveyed and registered as a townsite and assigned appointed Jim Reeves and Jim Batsell as his sales agents to sell lots in the newly developed town. The newly created community of Whitewright quickly drew people and companies that were eager to take economic advantage of the new rail line and the area’s lush farmland.
The community grew rapidly and within the first 10 years had established a private school, a public school, the Grayson College, a community newspaper, three hotels, two cotton gins, two banks, and numerous other businesses. In 1888 a post office was officially established and Jas. A. Batsell was appointed as the first postmaster.
By 1890 the population of Whitewright was approximately 880 people and by 1900 the population had more than doubled to exceed 1,800 people. Over the next 10 years, the community and businesses thrived but a devastating fire in 1911 that destroyed a majority of the main businesses center caused a dip in population and business activity. The community recovered and growth returned which was spurred on by the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railway and the Cotton Belt railway. By the 1920s there were 68 businesses in operation, including two banks, a cottonseed oil plant, and a flour production facility with Whitewright being the economic business center for surrounding cotton, wheat, corn, and cattle farmers.
The town was the birthplace of George Washington Truett and Kay Kimbell who became influential members of society. George Washington Truett became the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas and later became the Southern Baptist Convention while Kay Kimbell was a successful businessman and philanthropist who is remembered for his support of the Kimbell Art Museum.
During the Great Depression and World War II, the community suffered a loss in population and businesses. By 1950 the population had declined to approximately 1,370 people and over the next 10 years, the community stagnated with the population dropping to about 1,315 people by 1960. Between 1960 and 1970 the community entered a period of recovery and growth and by 1970 the population increased to over 1,740 residents. During the 1970s and 1980s, the community continued to be primarily agricultural with several manufacturing plants producing sausage, textiles, and fertilizer. Unfortunately, the growth did not continue and between 1980 and 2010 the community matured but growth stagnated with the population dropping slightly to 1,600 people.
Today, Whitewright covers 1.81 square miles with over 1,720 people who call the city home and is experiencing a period of slow but sustained growth. The city has great potential for future prosperity and the infrastructure in place to serve its growing community including a public library, municipal court, parks, schools, fire, and police department.
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