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Founder of agricultural community dies


On this day in 1965, Helen Kerr Thompson, founder of an agricultural community in Trinity County, died. Her father, John Steele Kerr, had been a pioneer horticulturist in Texas. Helen, born about 1875, grew up in Sherman and married J. Lewis Thompson. They raised a family in Houston, but after World War I, Helen planned new endeavors when her husband gave her 12,000 acres of his Trinity County forest land. During the 1920s she established a model agricultural community and implemented a system that relied on crop rotation, cooperative marketing, and modern farm homes. She cultivated cotton, corn, and sugar cane, developed a purebred Hereford herd, and established a poultry plant. Careful attention to the balance of permanent pastures and timberlands added to the success of the town that was named Woodlake. The agricultural community declined during the Great Depression, however, and by the late 1940s most vestiges of the once-blooming agricultural experiment were gone.

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