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Historic Wills Point, TX

Issue 1

Issue 2

Fire Fighters, Baker Babies, Weevils, and Wills Point Bachelors... early news from the pages of the Wills Point Chronicle.

We hope you enjoy reading these old newspaper articles as much as we did. Come back to see other articles every month.

Can't you just close your eyes and imagine Eva Lybrand playing these tunes during a silent movie at the Majestic?

Issue 3

Teams Must Be Unhitched In City

May 2, 1895 – Notice is hereby given that I will enforce the city ordinance requiring that all teams be unhitched from the vehicle when left on the street. The safety and welfare of all demand it. Mac Sisson, Marshal.


Bucket Brigade Needed For Fires

January 28, 1897 – It wouldn’t be much trouble to organize a bucket brigade to better fight fire when it breaks out. As it is everybody makes a rush for something they know not what, and as a result much good labor is absolutely lost at a fire. If goods are removed they are often so badly damaged that it were about as well to have let them burned. Let us organize so that there may be some system to our fire fighting and by that means accomplish much more.


School Might Have Been Saved If Engine Had Started Sooner

February 9, 1905 – Again has the fiery fiend laid its blighting hand upon the fair city of Wills Point, this time destroying the pride of our town – our $14,000 school building. Friday afternoon about 12:30 o’clock the building was discovered to be on fire and the alarm turned in to which the volunteer fire company quickly responded but despite their most strenuous efforts the furniture and wood work of the building were completely destroyed, leaving nothing standing except the brick walls. Some are of the opinion that could the engine have been started to running sooner it might have been possible to save most of the building. However, it was the fault of no one that it would not be started any quicker – it is generally conceded to have been from the inferiority of the gasoline.

The fire coming as it did, at the noon hour caused a considerable loss in the way of books as most of the children were at home for dinner and unable to save scarcely any of them. The loss in this way probably amounts to $1,000. The building was insured for $8,000 and the furniture for $1,000 which was certainly a very lucky thing for the city.

Wills Point seems to be especially unlucky with her school buildings. Only a few years back the old building in the northern part of town was blown away. Then the cyclone in the spring of 1901 destroyed the school building which was situated upon the same site as the one which was burned Friday. But then Wills Point people do not know what it is to give up. We will come again very soon with even a finer and larger school building than we have ever had before. If not this, then we will have two buildings—one on one side of town and one on the other. Up to the present time the board of trustees is unable to say what arrangements it will make in regard to the continuation of the school for the present term – if any.


Firemen in the late 1930’s were (l to r) Buie Blakeley, T. V. Jamieson, M. A. Gossett, Jack Funderburk, Preston Turner,
Olen Thurman, George Marlow, Jim Roberts, Wayne Livesey, Baker Ezell, Joe Ellis, K. C. Lybrand, Jr., Henry Turner,
Bill Campbell and Marshall Warren.


Fire Department Has Long History in City

(The following story appeared in the 1976 Centennial Chronicle)
Organized before the turn of the century as a bucket brigade the Wills Point Fire Department has progressed through the hand-drawn apparatus stage to a modern, well equipped department officered by capable men.

Jack Finney is believed to have been the first fire chief and was succeeded by Tom Saddler who held the office until about 1916. In 1919 L. M. Gilmore was elected chief and served until 1925 when he resigned to go with the TP & L Co. in Dallas. Under his regime the first motorized apparatus was purchased. K. C. Lybrand Sr. succeeded Gilmore and in the early ‘30’s, when he resigned the office, J. B. Blakely became chief. He resigned in 1942 and T. V. Jamieson took over. Jamieson was elected chief at the next department elections and is the present head of the Wills Point department. Six other men have served as fire chief. They are Ralph McLeod, K.C. Lybrand, Jr., Carl Rusk, A. B. Hodge, Hollis Smith, and Doug Small.

Fire Fighters of 1947: Left to right – Raymond Martin, Robbie Alexander, Wayne Dawson, Earl Terry, R. W. Ragan,
A. B. Hodge, Carl Rusk, Olan Thurman, Ralph McLeod, T. V. Jamieson, Charlie Lasater, Dewey Boshear,
George Marlow, Bill Scott and K. C. Lybrand, Jr.


No Shortage of Doctors in Early Wills Point

(At the time of this 1976 article, Dr. Baker was still practicing medicine at Baker Clinic)

Records reveal that there was no shortage of doctors during the early years in Wills Point and Van Zandt County. Many must have practiced only a short time while others stayed on to establish themselves firmly in the community and develop a large practice.

Dr. I. S. Collier, Dr. J. M. Fry and later his son, Dr. H. T. Fry; Dr. D. L. Sanders and many others served the early day residents of Wills Point and the surrounding area. Very little is known of most of the men who served the medical profession during the latter part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. The physicians who fall into that group are Dr. J. T. Tucker, Dr. Claude Haynes, Dr. J. M. Fry, Dr. Elbert, Dr. Collier, Dr. Moughon, Dr. M. H Echols, Dr. Hendrix, Dr. Russell, Dr. Charles McKnight, Dr. A. G. Sisson, Dr. T. M. Jeter, Dr. Watkins, Dr. Eli Zink, Dr. Ernest Blankenship, Dr. Belote, Dr. N. W. Campbell, and many more. Dr. Sanders was born on October 2, 1871 the son of Levi Lindsey and Suzanne Collins Sanders. Dr. Sanders was educated at the Alamo Institute at Ben Wheeler. He received his premedical training at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky and settled in Wills Point in 1906. Dr. H. T. Fry was born and reared in Wills Point. Upon receiving his license to practice he returned to his hometown where he spent a long life serving those whom he loved best, the people he had known all his life.

These early day men of medicine were in a league by themselves. They practiced under the most adverse conditions. House calls in the rural areas were difficult because of poor roads. Lighting was poor; there was no such thing as a sterile, spotlessly clean office. Some practiced in their homes but even a well-equipped office in those days offered little in the realm of instruments and other physician’s aids.

A young east Texan arrived on the scene in Wills Point in 1931. Dr. Horace Anson Baker was the son of a rural couple and in his words, “cut my teeth on a cotton stalk.” He fell under the influence of the Travis family early in his life since the farm where Dr. Baker lived was just out of Jacksonville, the town where Nan Travis Hospital was located. Young Baker attended Baylor University and Baylor School of Medicine and interned at Baylor Hospital before hanging up his shingle over Bruce and Human Drug Company. He practiced there until 1946 when he moved his office to Baker Clinic Hospital. Building the hospital was the realization of a dream that Dr. Baker had nourished from the day he took the Hippocratic Oath. During the World War II years, he pinched pennies and made plans. As soon as materials were available, construction of the ten-bed hospital got underway. Dr. Baker opened the facility prematurely as the kitchen was not outfitted and a few other details were incomplete.

The first child born in Wills Point’s first hospital was Steve Stone, son of Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Stone and grandson of Mr. and Mrs. K. K. Norton.

When Dr. Baker began practicing he was the youngest of 29 doctors in Van Zandt County. Today (1976) at 70 years of age, he is the oldest of doctors in Van Zandt County. The years have been kind to the good doctor who is now treating the fourth generation of several families in the area. Linda Liston Wehr, mother of the 5,229th infant that Dr. Baker delivered, was also delivered by Dr. Baker.

Baker Clinic Hospital, a 10-bed facility has served more than 20,000 patients during its 27 year history. Equipped for almost any emergency the operating room has been the scene of amputations, hysterectomies, gall bladder surgery, appendectomies and most other major operations. Over the years Dr. Baker delivered thousands of infants which came to be known as “Baker Babies.”

Baker Clinic Hospital had a party at the end of its first year of operation in 1947.
Present to join in the celebration were "Dr. Baker's Babies" and their mothers.

Click on the photo to see larger images in the Photo Gallery.


Burned Lights in Cotton

1907 – John A. Waits, living ten miles south of Wills Point, said Saturday that he had made and used in his cotton field this summer two lamps. He burned these at night and declares that in the section of the field where the two lamps were located his cotton is nearly twice as good as other portions of the field, and the land is all alike. The lamp was the same type as commonly used several years ago to trap the miller fly, the parent of the boll worm. Mr. Waits says the pan caught many boll weevils, there being two varieties of these. Mr. Waits has contended all along that the boll weevils could be caught at night with a lamp, his opinion being based on the fact that weevils frequently found their way to the light in his house at night. He and some of his neighbors will try it on an extensive scale next year.


Young Men Of Wills Point Organize Bachelors Club

1908 – A new organization has been launched in Wills Point and is known as the Bachelor’s Club of Wills Point. Its purpose is to bring together socially the young men of the town and will also be used as a means of entertainment for visiting young men. The officers elected are W. W. Gibbard, president; Angus Wynne, vice president; O. C. Bruce, secretary and treasurer; Theo Sayre, esquire. The officers, together with Ed Gottlich, Guy Fields and Thomas George are the governors. They have originated a ritual and will have an initiatory service for new members. The room over Rose Dry Goods Co., formerly used as a lodge room, has been rented and is being properly furnished to afford social comfort to the members. Good reading matter, domino tables and other forms of entertainment will be provided. The club will be open every night in the week for members and their invited quests and the regular business meeting will be held the first Monday night in each month. The Chronicle notes this new social enterprise with pleasure and commends it as a worthy step on the part of the young men.



It Happened in...

Feb. 24, 1964 Cassius Clay defeated Sonny Liston for the heavyweight boxing title

Feb. 1, 1965 Peter Jennings, 26, becomes anchor of ABC's nightly news

Feb. 3, 1965 Orbiting Solar Observatory 2 launches into Earth orbit

Feb. 6, 1965 Righteous Brothers "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" hits #1

Feb. 7, 1965 Cassius Clay becomes a Muslim and adopts the name Muhammad Ali

Feb. 8, 1965 Supremes release "Stop In the Name of Love"

Feb. 11, 1966 San Francisco Giant Willie Mays signs highest contract, $130,000 per year

Feb. 13, 1965 Peggy Fleming, 16, wins ladies senior figure skating title

Feb. 14, 1966 Wilt Chamberlain breaks NBA career scoring record at 20,884 points

Feb. 18, 1965 Frank Gifford announces his retirement from football for broadcasting

March 9, 1964 1st Ford Mustang produced

March 24, 1964 Kennedy half-dollar issued

March 18, 1965 Rolling Stones fined 5 pounds each for public urination

Mar. 6, 1966 Barry Sadlers' "Ballad of the Green Berets" becomes #1 (13 weeks)

March 18, 1966 Scott Paper begins selling paper dresses for $1

March 21, 1966 Supreme Court reverses Mass ruling that "Fanny Hill" is obscene (now has R rating)

March 23, 1965 Gemini 3 launched, 1st U.S. 2-man space flight (Grissom and Young)

March 24, 1966 Selective Service announces college deferments based on performance






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