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WHITSETT, TEXAS. Whitsett is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 281 and Farm Road 99, on the Missouri Pacific Railroad fifteen miles north of Three Rivers in northwest Live Oak County. It was on land granted to John Houlihan. When the railroad came through the county in 1913, the land for the town was donated by Taylor Whitsett and Walter Reiffert. Each wanted his name used for the town so Reiffert tossed a coin, and Whitsett called it and won. In 1913 cattle pens were built at the site by the railroad, and a lumberyard and hardware store, a general store, and a post office opened. In the 1920s the town also produced honey and had two cotton gins. In 1925 a new school was built west of the railroad, and in 1932 paving was begun on what is now Highway 281. The highway was the Old Spanish Trail,qv then Texas Highway 66, Highway 9, and finally U.S. Highway 281. By 1938 the Whitsett school had four teachers and sixty-one students. In that same year Jess Ray Pullin installed a one-cylinder diesel engine in his machine shop that provided electricity for the community until 1943, when the Rural Electrification Association connected with Whitsett. The Whitsett school was annexed to the Three Rivers Independent School District in 1949. In 1933 an oil refinery was built in Whitsett to process oil from the surrounding area, but it was abandoned soon after. In the 1970s the oil business revived. Oil and uranium were extracted nearby. Farming also increased. The population was 280 in 1940 and 350 in 1982. The completion of Choke Canyon Dam in 1986 was expected to increase Whitsett's population, but in 1990 the population remained at 350.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Anne A. Fox, A Study of Five Historic Cemeteries at Choke Canyon Reservoir, Live Oak and McMullen Counties, Texas (University of Texas at San Antonio Center for Archeological Research, 1984). Live Oak County Historical Commission, The History of the People of Live Oak County (George West, Texas, 1982). Ervin L. Sparkman, The People's History of Live Oak County (Mesquite, Texas, 1981). Kathleen E. and Clifton R. St. Clair, eds., Little Towns of Texas (Jacksonville, Texas: Jayroe Graphic Arts, 1982). Edwin Herbert Stendebach, An Administrative Survey and Proposed Reorganization of the Schools in Live Oak County, Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1939).

Hal Long

Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "WHITSETT, TX,"


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