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WOODLAKE, TX (TRINITY COUNTY)

WOODLAKE, TEXAS (Trinity County). Woodlake is on U.S. Highway 287 four miles southeast of Groveton in southeastern Trinity County. The area was settled around the time of the Civil War, but a community did not begin to grow up until the early 1880s, when John Martin Thompson and Henry Tucker founded the Thompson and Tucker Lumber Company. In 1889 a post office opened under the name Willard, and during the next two decades the community was known variously as Willard, Old Willard, and Jason. By 1896 the town had Presbyterian and Methodist churches, the lumberyard and mill, a general store, and a population of 250. But by World War I most of the timber in the region had been cut, the mill was closed, and the plant dismantled. Many of the residents moved to other sawmill towns in the region. The post office was closed in 1910 but reopened in 1920 as Jason, according to one source named for Jason Hawthorne, a distinguished black resident. In 1925 the name was changed to Woodlake, after the small reservoir that had supplied the mill. During the 1920s Helen Kerr Thompson, a relative of the original mill owner, organized a model farm. A trading post, a community center, and a number of houses were constructed, but the project failed in the late 1920s because of the combined effects of the Great Depression and the demise of the Waco, Beaumont, Trinity and Sabine Railway. In 1934 the United States government took over the project to aid farmers on relief rolls. Many new houses were constructed, as well as a new eleven-grade school, but the project failed again. By the late 1930s many of the residents had moved away. Most of the community buildings and much of the equipment was sold to the Baptist Church of East Texas, which erected a youth camp. In 1990 Woodlake was a dispersed community with a population of 301. By 2000 the population dropped to ninety-eight.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Patricia B. and Joseph W. Hensley, eds., Trinity County Beginnings (Groveton, Texas: Trinity County Book Committee, 1986).

Christopher Long

Citation

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

Christopher Long, "WOODLAKE, TX (TRINITY COUNTY)," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlw47), accessed September 21, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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