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KERMIT, TEXAS. Kermit is on the Texas-New Mexico Railway and State highways 18, 302, 703, and 115 seven miles northwest of Wink in central Winkler County. It began as a supply center for the scattered ranches of the area. Kermit became the seat of Winkler County when the county was organized in 1910. The first public school and the post office opened the same year. The town was named for Kermit Roosevelt, son of President Theodore Roosevelt. The younger Roosevelt visited the T Bar Ranch in northern Winkler County to hunt antelope a few months before the town was named. In 1916 the county suffered a drought. Many homesteaders and ranchers were forced to leave. In 1924 only Ern Baird's family remained in the town. Only one student attended school in the county for five months of 1924. Only three houses and the courthouse were in use by 1926. On July 16, 1926, however, oil was discovered in Hendrick oilfield, near Kermit, and the town experienced a boom. In 1927 a population of 1,000 was reported; by 1929 that number increased to 1,500. On March 4, 1929, the Texas-New Mexico Railway reached the town.
The population declined drastically in the early 1930s, but both population and business figures rose at the end of the 1930s, when 2,700 residents and 180 businesses were listed. On February 15, 1938, residents voted to incorporate. During the 1940s the oil boom caused real estate prices to double. Housing was scarce, and some people lived in tents. A bank was opened by 1945. The grade school had to be enlarged, and a hospital was built. In the 1950s the town continued to grow; housing additions were built. By 1960 the town had a population of more than 6,000 and 215 businesses. Flooding became a problem because of the flat terrain. By the 1960s Kermit had 10,465 people and 260 businesses. New crown streets were constructed to solve the flooding problem, and more housing additions were built. The town moved the last working wooden derrick in the Permian Basin from Loving County to Pioneer Park in Kermit in 1966 as a symbol of the importance of the oil industry to the economy of Kermit and Winkler County. In the 1970s and 1980s the population of Kermit bounced between 8,500 and 6,912, and the number of businesses moved between 200 and 116. Improvements were made in city services, and more housing additions were built. The 1990 United States census set the population of Kermit at 6,875. By 2000 the population had dropped to 5,714.
BIBLIOGRAPHY:Wylene Kirk, "Early Post Offices and Towns in the Permian Basin Area," Texas Permian Historical Annual 1 (August 1961). Roger M. and Diana Davids Olien, Oil Booms (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1982). A History of Winkler County (Kermit, Texas: Winkler County Historical Commission, 1984).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Julia Cauble Smith, "Kermit, TX," accessed April 26, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hfk02.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.