Brownwood, Texas     




Brownwood is on Pecan Bayou at the intersection of U.S. highways 67, 84, and 377, Farm Road 2524, and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in south central Brown County. The city and the county are named for Henry Stevenson Brown. The area was settled by farmers and cattle ranchers like Welcome W. Chandler and J. H. Fowler. When the sparsely populated county was organized in 1857, the hamlet of Brownwood was chosen as county seat. A post office was opened in the town the following year. The town was originally located on the east side of Pecan Bayou, but in the late 1860s a land-title dispute and problems with an inadequate water supply induced the residents to move to a sixty-acre site on the west side of the bayou donated by Greenleaf Fisk. Brownwood Masonic Lodge was chartered in 1865. As late as 1872 Brownwood was a small community of two stores, a log courthouse, and about five dwellings. In 1873 John Y. Rankin purchased land around the business district and began to build homes in what became known as the Rankin Addition. In 1876, when the town had an estimated 120 inhabitants and Cumberland Presbyterian, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches, the first bank was opened and a schoolhouse was built that also served as a town hall and a church. Because Brownwood lay on a feeder line of the Western Trail, stores and saloons served the needs of the cowboys who drove the herds through town. A cotton gin was built in town in 1877 as the state of Texas began to offer the land to farmers.

The 1880s and 1890s were decades of dramatic growth for the community, as the population increased from 725 in 1880 to 2,176 in 1890 and 3,965 in 1900. The town became a center of the Farmers' Alliance with the building of the West Texas District Alliance Cotton Yard and the establishment of an alliance paper, the weekly Freemans Journal. Other newspapers that have been published in the community include the Brownwood Gazette, Bulletin, and Appeal, the Pecan Valley News, the Texas Immigration and Stock Farmer, Living Issues, and the Brown County Banner. In 1885 the Brownwood Daily Bee became the town's first daily paper. The courthouse burned in 1880, and a new one was completed in 1884. In 1884, when Brownwood incorporated, the town had two banks, nine general stores, five saloons, two hotels, and steam cotton and grist mills. The following year the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad built through Brownwood, and in 1886 the town built its first waterworks. An opera house was built in the late 1880s. By 1890 the town had five churches, an icehouse, a fire department, and a sanitarium. A second railroad, the Fort Worth and Rio Grande, built through Brownwood in 1891. There were also significant developments in education during these years. Several local schools were consolidated to form the Brownwood Independent School District in 1883. In 1889 two colleges opened their doors in Brownwood—Daniel Baker College, founded by the Presbyterians, and Howard Payne College, a Baptist institution. Daniel Baker closed, and its campus became part of Howard Payne College in 1953. Read the rest of the Brownwood History from the Handbook of Texas Online

Brownwood Bulletin Articles
January 18, 1945
The Brownwood Bulletin

Baker Street, Brownwood early 1900s click to enlarge  

Brownwood, Texas Postcards and Photographs
Early Brownwood History from the Brownwood Online site
Brownwood History from Brownwood TX Feels Like Home
Brownwood from
Brownwood Online
Brown County Extension Service

Brownwood in 1880 click to enlarge  

Sante Fe Depot, Brownwood

Brownwood North And South Railroad from the Handbook of Texas Online  more Railroad information

City Hall, Brownwood  

Mayors of Brownwood from 1877 from the Brownwood Online site
1919 Worley's Brownwood City Directory excerpts
1928 Worley's Brownwood City Directory excerpts
1938 Curry's Brownwood City Directory excerpts
Brown County Jail Brown County Jail

Brownwood. (first site 1 mile E; second, 5 miles SE, present location) Settled 1857. Acquired a post office 1858. An oil vein ruined 1860s water well of townsite donor Greenleaf Fisk. Wagon-yard keeper Martin Meinsinger sold medicinal oil from 1878 well. Commercial drilling began 1889. Farming, cotton sales, business town since 1880s; was reached by Santa Fe Railroad, 1885; Frisco, 1890. Two colleges -- Daniel Baker and Howard Payne -- were situated here in 1889. Camp Bowie, World War II Military Post, operated in Brownwood from 1940 to 1946. Center for agriculture-retail sales-industry. Has a coliseum, parks, 110 miles of lake shore. (1968)  

Historical Marker Text, location: Roadside Park, west of Pecan Bayou Bridge on US 67/84 on Early-Brownwood line

A Walk Through Old Historical Brownwood,  available from the Brown County Historical Commission