The site of Kennard, at the junction of State Highway 7 and Farm roads 2781 and 357, sixteen miles east of Crockett in eastern Houston County, was settled in the 1850s. The community was established in 1899, after the Central Coal and Coke Company of Kansas City, Missouri, purchased a large tract of virgin timberland and set up a small sawmill.
The Four C Mill, as it was called, was originally four miles west of the site of present Ratcliff. In 1901 the company decided to found its own town and moved its plant to a site on Cochino Bayou. A settlement grew up near the mill, and a post office was established in 1902 under the name Kennard.
The town grew rapidly during the early 1900s, and by 1914 it had eight general stores, a bank, a hotel, a drugstore, a school, and an estimated population of 600. Much of the economy was tied to the Four C Mill, said at the time to have been the largest sawmill west of the Mississippi. Lumbering deforested much of the surrounding land, more than 120,000 acres by 1917. In 1920, with little timber left in the area, the firm shut down the mill and dismantled it. A holding company took over the property and eventually sold it to the federal government. Much of the area was reforested in the 1930s under a Civilian Conservation Corps program, and the land became part of Davy Crockett National Forest.
Although the closing of the mill in the early 1920s had a profound impact on the economy of Kennard, the population remained stable through the 1930s. In 1936 the town had a school, twelve rated businesses, and an estimated population of 600. After World War II many of the residents moved away, and by the early 1950s the population had fallen to 350.
The town was incorporated in 1969, and in 1974 the Kennard Independent School District was formed, consolidating forty-seven east Houston County schools. In the early 1990s Kennard had a school, a bank, and eight businesses; the population in 1990 was 341.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Armistead Albert Aldrich, The History of Houston County, Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1943). Houston County Historical Commission, History of Houston County, Texas, 1687-1979 (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Heritage, 1979). Houston County Cemeteries (Crockett, Texas: Houston County Historical Commission, 1977; 3d ed. 1987).
Eliza H. Bishop