GOLDTHWAITE, TEXAS. Goldthwaite, the county seat of Mills County, is at the convergence of U.S. highways 84 and 183, State Highway 16, and Farm roads 574 and 572, in the central part of the county. The town was established in what was then southern Brown County in 1885, with the coming of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway, and was named for Joe G. Goldthwaite, the railroad official who conducted the auction of town lots. The post office opened in 1886. After Mills County was organized the following year, a number of landowners donated townsite property in exchange for assurances that Goldthwaite would be selected county seat. A county courthouse was completed in 1890; the first county jail, constructed in 1888, is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Santa Fe built shops and a roundhouse switch, intending Goldthwaite as a division point, but after labor problems in the town the railroad moved its shops to Brownwood. Even without the railroad, the town flourished. By 1898 it had a population of 1,200, three churches, a bank, a number of hotels and boardinghouses, two cotton gins, two gristmills, a public and a private school, many stores, and two weekly newspapers, the Eagle and the Mountaineer. The 1905 meeting of the Confederate Reunion, a major annual social event, was the largest public gathering in Mills County history.
The courthouse burned in 1912 and was replaced with a brick structure the following year. The county's first school library was established in 1915, the same year construction began on Lake Merritt, seven miles from town. By 1928 Goldthwaite had 2,800 residents and ninety-five businesses. The population fell to 1,324 by 1931, due to drought and economic hard times, and the number of businesses declined to fifty-five by 1933. After the depression years recovery was modest in Goldthwaite, but agricultural diversification provided prosperity. In 1988 the town's economy was based on wool, mohair, cattle, sheep, pecans, grains, and the production of farm equipment. A population of 1,858 in 1988 supported forty-nine business. In 1990 the population was 1,658, and in 2000 it was 1,802.
Flora Gatlin Bowles, A No Man's Land Becomes a County (Austin: Steck, 1958). Kathleen E. and Clifton R. St. Clair, eds., Little Towns of Texas (Jacksonville, Texas: Jayroe Graphic Arts, 1982).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Kathy Edwards, "GOLDTHWAITE, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hjg04), accessed July 31, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.