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WINNIE, TX

WINNIE, TEXAS. Winnie, at the junction of State Highway 124 and Interstate Highway 10, twenty-five miles southwest of Beaumont in eastern Chambers County, was named for Fox Winnie, a contractor on the Gulf and Inter-state Railway. The town plat was filed in 1895 by E. Dee Normandie and L. P. Featherstone, president and secretary, respectively, of the G&I, after the line's completion. A post office was secured the same year. The Hankamer-Stowell Canal Company started construction of ditches in 1899 and helped to open the Winnie-Stowell area to farming. F. W. Schwettman of Winnie was one of the principal organizers of the company. The Winnie and Loan Improvement Company took charge of developing interest in Winnie, attempting to sell small lots to perspective settlers. Growth proved slow, however, and the company was dissolved in 1911. A devastating hurricane and severe declines in post-World War I rice prices impaired local agriculture, which depended heavily on the rice and cattle industries. Efforts to develop fruits and vegetables in the region also proved unsuccessful. The exception to this was the fig industry, which was successful in the Winnie-Stowell area during the early 1900s. Several fig-processing plants were built in the area, but the industry died out around 1920. Poor drainage, a lack of roads, and the somewhat undependable service of the G&I line kept the community largely isolated during the 1920s, when the population stood at 200. In 1926 the arrival of a German seismographic crew in search of oil in the Winnie-Stowell area foreshadowed change. The Stowell oilfield was discovered north and east of Winnie in 1941. Prominent oilman Glenn H. McCarthy developed the area fields and established a large gas plant east of town. By the early 1960s Winnie had over 1,100 residents. The population grew rapidly with new oil and gas explorations and the construction of Interstate Highway 10. By 1980 the population was estimated at 2,500. Although the oil glut of the mid-1980s severely hurt the region's economy, Winnie remained the largest community in Chambers County; the county maintained a variety of offices there. In 1931 the East Chambers County Consolidated School District was organized, when the Winnie and Stowell schools were consolidated. The school district is one of only three in Chambers County. The Winnie depot was given to the East Chambers Agricultural and Historical Society. Winnie was also the home of the Gulf Coast News and the Winnie Chronicle, and, with neighboring Stowell, has cohosted the annual Texas Rice Festival since 1970. In 1990 the population of Winnie was 2,238. The population reached 2,914 in 2000.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Jewel Horace Harry, A History of Chambers County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1940; rpt., Dallas: Taylor, 1981). Herbert Roedenbeck, Manuscripts Collection, Sam Houston Regional Library, Liberty, Texas.

Robert Wooster

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Robert Wooster, "WINNIE, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hfw03), accessed November 24, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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