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HAWKINS, TX

Rachel Jenkins

HAWKINS, TEXAS. Hawkins is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 80 and Farm Road 14, on the Missouri Pacific line twenty miles southeast of Quitman in the southeastern corner of Wood County. The town received its post office in 1873, the same year the Texas and Pacific Railway built through on its way to Dallas. The area had been fairly well settled before the railroad's arrival, as it was near the river crossing to Belzora, an early port and stagecoach crossing on the Smith County side of the Sabine River. By 1884 Hawkins was shipping lumber, shingles, livestock, and cotton, and it had a population of 400, five general stores, five steam gristmills and cotton gins, three churches, two hotels, and a district school. By 1890 its population had fallen to around 200, but in 1896 the community reported 500 residents and a newspaper, the Hawkins Banner. In 1912 Jarvis Christian College was founded just outside the Hawkins city limits. By 1914 Hawkins had a population of 150, a telephone connection, and at least eighteen businesses, including a bank and two timber companies. The community's population rose gradually from 300 in 1925 to 500 in the early 1930s. In 1932 the Hawkins school reported an enrollment of sixty-seven white and seventy-one black students, in ten and nine grades, respectively. The community had a population of 200 in October 1940, when former lightweight boxer Bobby (Bobbie) Manziel made the first major oil discovery in Wood County, a wildcat well 3½ miles north of town; Hawkins became an overnight boomtown. When later that same year independent operators Steve Rotundi (Rotondi) and F. R. Jackson hit oil within the Hawkins city limits, land prices in the community soared, and lots reportedly sold for anywhere from $500 to $10,000. The Humble Oil and Refining Company (later Exxon Company, U.S.A.) became a principal driller in the Hawkins field just north of the community, and as late as 1960 the Hawkins Camp (originally the Humble Camp), a densely populated oil-refining area, stood just to the north of the city. In 1941 Hawkins had a population of 1,200, and by the late 1940s it had incorporated. By the early 1950s Hawkins had a population of 493 and twenty-five businesses, including a bank. In 1956 the community was cited by a major insurance company as having the lowest ad valorem tax in Texas. The population of Hawkins climbed to 868 in the early 1960s, dropped to 761 by 1970, then rose again slowly to 1,302 by 1982. In 1988 Hawkins had a population of 1,242 and thirty-one businesses. By that time an Exxon refinery stood where the Hawkins Camp had been located. Each October Hawkins celebrates its oil-based economy with an Oil Festival. The population of Hawkins in 1990 was 1,309. In 2000 the population was 1, 331.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 
Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Adele W. Vickery, A Transcript of Centennial Edition, 1850–1950, Wood County Democrat (Mineola, Texas, 1974). Wood County, 1850–1900 (Quitman, Texas: Wood County Historical Society, 1976).

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Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Rachel Jenkins, "HAWKINS, TX," accessed October 23, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hjh05.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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