Tidbits of Shelby County History
This week’s article is about the history of Timpson, Texas. According to the Texas State Historical Association, Timpson is on the Southern Pacific Railroad at the junction of U.S. highways 87, 84, and 59, fifteen miles northwest of Center in northwestern Shelby County. It was founded in 1885, when the Houston, East and West Texas Railway was being constructed through the area, and was named for P.B. Timpson, an engineer on the Railroad. Timpson received a post office that year with James H. Blankenship as first postmaster. It soon became the more important shipping center in the county and by 1890 had a population of 1200 with a commercial and industrial base that included two sawmills, a weekly newspaper, and a canning factory. The town was incorporated by 1892 and by 1925 had become a shipping point for lignite mined in the area.
The information regarding Timpson is taken from a booklet published by the Timpson Business League and has a handwritten date on it of 1909. I will cover the information in the booklet over the next couple of weeks.
In presenting this book to the public, we do so with apology, for we have learned if you don’t blow your own horn the same will not be blown.
Every statement made in this book can be verified if there is any doubt as to the accuracy of same.
We have not said half the nice things about our country that could be said and still be within the bounds of honesty.
The object of this book is to call the reader’s attention to a section of country that has long been settled, but from some cause has not been developed like it should and is entitled to be.
We currently have a population of 3000. (Note: The 2020 population of Timpson was listed at 1,128). We have a splendid public-school building, and we have just voted $9,000 extra bonds to enlarge the school building, which will be done during this summer.(Note: The first schoolteacher in Timpson was Professor Tom Day and the first woman teacher was Nettie Allison.) We have a scholastic population of about 600 with nine months free school each year. Our school allowance from the State is $6.75 per scholar, together with a 43-cent local tax, making our school fund sufficient to enable us to employ and keep the best educators to be found. We have four church buildings, Methodist, Christian, and two Baptist churches being represent – that compare favorable with such buildings in tows of our size. The Methodists are just completing a new $17,000 concrete church and have also recently built a $3,000 concrete parsonage.
Timpson has the best local telephone system in the State with some 250 local phone and 400 miles of toll lines belonging to the system, and we have long distance connection with all points. The system is the property of J.B. Bussey of this city.
The Timpson Soda and Mineral Water company is one of the largest manufacturing concerns for the manufacture of carbonated water in the State. (Note: the owners were John and Buford Jennings.Timpson Soda & Mineral Water Co. files a certificate of dissolution in 1910.) It has a large brick building 50X100 feet of modern structure with cement floor. The building is equipped with all the necessary and modern machinery that can be used in a plant of this character. The plant is worth about $20,000 and has a business that fully justifies the expenditure.
Timpson Ice Factory
The Timpson Ice Factory is owned and operated by Mr. W.D. Wade, a resident of Timpson.(Note: Information from Scotty Rhodes from a speak he gave to the Timpson Area Genealogy and Heritage Society in 2017 - the ice plant was in the same area where the Wayside Inn was located where the Assembly of God Church now resides. In the same area, Larry Bearden had a cafe, Sam Crump had a Texaco station and Bud Essery had a grocery store. Right on the corner where the Baptist Church parking lot is, Mr. Amos, had a gas station and garage. Just across the street, Ben Barnes had a tractor dealership.) The factory was established under very adverse circumstances, as the Brewery people of Shreveport considered this their rightful territory and did not relinquish their trade here without a struggle. But on account of the need of such a factory here the people gave their patronage to the home factory, paying a reasonable price for their ice when the Shreveport company were offering to practically give them ice. They had no cause since Mr. Wade secured the entire trade of the town to regret giving their patronage to the local factory, for Mr. Wade has never taken advantage of having the trade all to himself and advanced the price of ice. The capacity of the plant is 10 tons per day and is in constant service through the ice months. Lice is delivered anywhere in the city at 40-cents per hundred pounds, or 1-2 cents per pound in small quantities.
The Timpson Electric Light Plant
The city is furnished with lights by Mr. E.W. Victory, who has recently purchased the light system and franchise, and has improved the property to such an extent by building and new powerhouse and other improvements until it is second to none.(Note: The Light Plant was down by the jail, as was the Clark and Tyre Box Factory.
The Timpson Compress Company
The Timpson Compress Company was organized by the citizens of the town and the majority of the stock was subscribed by home people. The first year the press operated it had sufficient support that we pressed some 28,000 bales of cotton. This enterprise also adds quite a nice weekly pay roll for the town during the winter months. The building and machinery of the press are the best that could be obtained. On account of the railroad facilities, Timpson is an ideal location for a compress. (Note: I am including a photo of the Cotton Compress, Timpson, Texas from the Beauchamp Collection - Texas Cotton Gins and Compresses.)
Texas Handle Company
Timpson rightfully boasts of having one of the best handle factories in the South. This enterprise is one of which Timpson is justly proud. Although only in the third year, it has achieved an enviable reputation for its products, not only in the State and the South, but the United States, Mexico, and abroad.
The factory was first started on a small scale, with a gasoline engine for power, btw a bought by H.R.Fory in the fall of 1906, and completely reconstructed into an up-to-date factory with the best workmanship and speed. The factory manufactures ax, adze, pick, sledge hatchet, hammer and mining tool handles. The capacity of this factory is three hundred dozen handles per day, and it give employment to thirty-five men and boys, in addition to those engaged in timber cutting. Timpson is an ideal location for this factory, having railroads leading out in five directions over to draw its timber supply from forests that abound in an unlimited supply of virgin timber of the finest quality.
The Timpson Handle Company was awarded first premium for the best display of manufactured handles at the Texas State Fair, and the Louisiana State Fair, in 1908, and its exhibit at both fairs was very highly complimented by thousands of visitors daily. The company is incorporated under the laws of Texas for $20,000 and is under the personal supervision of H.R. Fory, its president and general manager, to whose untiring energy and business sagacity its success is largely due.