MUNZ, TEXAS. Munz (also known as Munz City) was located about seven miles west of Douglassville and three miles east of Marietta in northwestern Cass County along and north of what is now State Highway 77 and east of Farm Road 994. The new settlement was named after the Munzheimer brothers, the founders of the community.
In the late 1800s two wealthy brothers, Gus and Harry (or Herman) Munzheimer from Texarkana, Texas, bought a large tract of virgin pine and hardwood timberland in the northern Cass County area along the Sulphur River. They were successful real estate developers in the Texarkana area and planned to set up a railroad to transport the cotton, coal, and timber to market beyond the Texarkana region. The railroad would terminate at Munz.
The Munzheimers hired a man by the name of Benjamin Franklin (Doc) Riddlespurger to build a narrow gauge railroad in the area. Riddlespurger assisted in obtaining the rights-of-way for the railroad by either offering low fees or by promising the farmers a good price for their timber and cotton products. The railroad was known as the Northeast Texas Railroad Company and initially began in Texarkana through Redwater to Maud and terminated at Munz City. The original intent was for the railroad to go all the way to Pittsburg, Texas, to be part a transportation network to move iron ore to the Jefferson-area smelters for processing. This narrow gauge railroad was also used to haul cotton and other major farm products to a port on the Sulphur River where they were shipped out on shallow-bottomed boats to New Orleans.
When the railroad finally reached Munz in July 1905, the Woodmen of the World sponsored a picnic at White Sulphur Springs east of town and a baseball game west of the small town. The celebration was reportedly attended by 2,000 people.
Gus and Harry Munzheimer started the settlement of Munz City by selling fifty-foot lots to the people who moved into the area to farm and harvest the timber. Deed records show that Gus and Harry Munzheimer bought or leased hundreds of acres of land in Cass County in 1901 and 1902. Many of the lots sold by the Munzheimer brothers were sold to absentee owners. Edgar W. King was appointed postmaster in July 1905, but the post office was discontinued by early 1908.
Gus Munzheimer continued to build his town of Munz by adding a hotel, boarding house, barber shop, and a small train depot. He hired a Mr. Bantum to manage both operations. Abner Darden Morriss, James Edgar King, and Charlie King built the first general store in Munz City. Joe Combs was the owner of one of the first grocery stores, and upstairs over the grocery store, Edgar King had a central office. A large brick kiln just north of the town was used to manufacture brick. Charley Whatley built a feed store at about the same time. Walter Carmichael and his wife Maggie built a general merchandise store near the town on the local highway. This store was located east of the present Farm Road 994 and north of State Highway 77 near the community of White Sulphur Springs to service the farmers in the area. Carmichael operated the store for some time until his death in 1951, and then his wife Maggie operated the store until 1959. The store closed for good in 1971.
Charley Smith operated the telephone exchange. The private telephone line joined Douglassville with Naples, including Munz City and Bryan's Mill, in 1913. Smith, the only telephone man in the area, acquired the nickname "Telephone Man" due to his unique occupation.
As the timber harvesting diminished, the businesses began to change hands. The buying and selling of real estate continued until March 31, 1914, when a tornado completely wiped out the community of Munz. The telephone exchange that was destroyed by the tornado was relocated along the road that is now State Highway 77 and operated by Fleming Rutland and his wife Anne for three or four years. The exchange was eventually moved north to the community of Bryan’s Mill.
Munz City died with the completion of the timber harvesting, and all traces of it were erased by the tornado of 1914, except for some of the minor structures and a portion of the train depot which remained visible until the late 1950s. The lots were sold at public auction, and the area soon became cotton and watermelon farms and later returned to timberland. Gus and Harry Munzheimer returned to the Texarkana area where they developed several businesses and residential subdivisions.
Munz did not have a school system. Children went to school in the nearby communities of Bryan's Mill, Union Chapel, White Sulphur Springs, or Cusseta. Immediately after the tornado, the children that remained were assigned to the school system in Marietta about three miles west of Munz.
The railroad tracks were abandoned and left intact and in place. The iron rails were gradually removed and sold for scrap by the people of the area. Much of the scrap metal in rails was also used as metal reinforcement in the thick concrete foundations of some of the many public buildings in the surrounding communities, especially the city of Maud. By the early twenty-first century, there are very few physical indicators of the railroad that served the area except for the earthworks that could be seen on the local farms between Munz City and the Sulphur River.
Douglas M. Alford, “Diamonds That Sparkle in the Dark,” (Naples, Texas: Douglas M. Alford, 2006). Atlanta (Texas) Citizens Journal, August 18, 1904, March 30, June 1, July 20, December 28, 1905, March 22, 1906.
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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, Douglas Alford, "Munz, TX," accessed September 27, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hvmba.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on November 18, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.