Bosque County: Land and People (A History of Bosque County, Texas) Page: 53
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section, almost destroying it.
In 1886, the United Friends of Temperance
formed a lodge at Iredell that soon had over
There was a severe drought in 1886 and
1887. Immigration almost ceased and many
moved back to east Texas or other states. In
August 1886, a well was bored in the middle
of the business area near the railway depot.
This flowing well produced 261 2 gallons per
minute. This artesian well became the pride
and glory of the town. Drought stricken came
from miles around to get water.
Churches called a joint meeting to pray for
rain. When it came, it came in torrents. A
mighty deluge of water poured down the
Bosque, arriving simultaneously with the
flood waters of Duffau Creek. On the morning
of August 30, 1887, turbulent waters bore
down on the town, washing out the railroad
tracks, covering the entire north side of town,
washing away much of the business section.
Floodwaters destroyed 25 stores and homes,
three cotton gins, a livery stable, and several
other wooden structures. Mr. Marx was in his
grocery store when it floated away. He stayed
with the building for a few hundred yards,
then plunged into the angry waters and swam
Mr. Anderson's furniture store washed
downstream and most of the furniture ended
up in Koss Barry's pasture. The saloon was
lifted and spun around facing the opposite
direction. Some of the brick buildings re-
mained anchored, with water six feet high
The flood of 1887 was the worst disaster
Iredell ever experienced. The business area
was immediately rebuilt, but every threat of
rain was a cause for alarm. Then. on the last
day of June, 1889, it started raining and
continued steadily for 56 hours. It was
followed by eight hours of downpour. Once
again railway tracks were washed out, the
business area was evacuated, and several
narrowly escaped drowning. The business
section was not destroyed but most became
convinced that they should move to higher
ground on the south side of the river.
In 1891, an iron bridge was made to span
the Bosque. It was a one way bridge. but it
solved the problem of fording the river when
the water was up. With the construction of
the bridge, businesses began to build on
Eastland Street. Mr. Brashear, grandfather
of Jeanie Oldham Benson, built the first
business in what is now downtown Iredell.
The major relocation began in 1901.
Meanwhile, long distance telephone had
reached Iredell in 1899. Archie Burson
started the first newspaper in 1898, The
Iredell News, an eight page tabloid with a
subscription price of $1. J.H. Neel started the
Iredell Index in 1901. Both papers survived
only briefly. By 1904, the Iredell Sentinel
was being published by Guy Jones. It lasted
until around 1907. Frank Chancellor started
the Iredell Record in 1913 and sold it to Mr.
Knight in the late 1920's. It died soon after.
Mr. and Mrs. R.J. Whitmore published the
Iredell Index in 1937 and 1938. The Texas
Collection at Baylor has a nearly compelte set
of the Iredell Index of 1937 and 1938.
In 1898, William A. Mcllhenny was post-
master and the post office was 50 yards south
of the Texas Central Railroad and 100 yards
north of the Bosque River. On February 24,
1902, Mr. Mcllhenny petitioned to move the
post office 300 yards south (which would be
on the south side of the river). He listed the
population of Iredell as 500 and the popula-
tion to be supplied by the office as 2,000. John
P. Williamson was postmaster in 1915 and he
listed the post office as being about 140 yards
south of the Bosque. In 1935, Charles R.
Conley, postmaster, listed the post office
location as being 350 feet south of the Bosque
and in 1941 he gives the address as 211A.
Eastland St., 400 feet south of the Bosque
River. In 1976 while W.E. Boyd, Jr. was
postmaster, a new brick building was con-
structed on Eastland Street about a block
south of the old building and across the street
where the old Rev. Jones home previously
In 1906, the Odd Fellows, the Fraternal
Union of America and the Woodman of the
World constructed a building on Eastland
Street. This building still stands with the
names and dates artistcially carved on the
front of the building.
Iredell Chapter #456, order of the Eastern
Star was formed in 1909 but ceased to exist
due to the Masonic hall being destroyed by
fire. In 1939, the Iredell Chapter #850, Order
of Eastern Star was organized and in 1976
consolidated with Walnut Springs Chapter
In 1895, the Baptist Church split, one on
the north side of the Bosque and one on the
south side. In 1911, the churches united. The
present First Baptist Church still worships in
the location chosen by the two churches. A
new church was built in 1951, and an annex
was added in 1958.
The population of Iredell hit its peak at 700
In 1910, the Methodist congregation built
a new rock building on the corner of McLain
and Eastland Streets on a lot donated by
George Gordon. In 1954, a Fellowship Hall
was built and in 1963, the present brick
church building was erected.
A rock school building was built in 1910
near the location of the first building. This
was also a two story building. A private school
was taught by Mrs. Mae G. Cox in her home
on the corner of McLain and Parks Streets.
In the early 1900's, Iredell claimed three
cotton gins, several grocery stores, two drug
stores, three doctors, two lumber yards, two
banks, a railroad depot, a saloon, a newspa-
per, one or more general merchandise stores,
cafes, hotels, auto service stations, feed
stores, barber shops, blacksmiths and a
broom factor, all supported by a network of
small family farms in the surrounding area.
The Iredell School was at its peak in the
mid 1930's after the consolidation of the
country schools in the area. In 1934, a new
brick and rock high school and gym was built
and in 1937 a new elementary school complet-
ed the complex. There were eighteen teachers
and eight school buses carried area children
into a school system whicn overflowed with
over 400 students. Consolidation brought
students into Iredell from these older country
schools: Black Stump Valley, Flag Branch,
East Bosque, Gordon, Rural Grove (Foot
Out), Fairview, Dollar (Johnson Peak),
Spring Creek, Spring Creek Gap, and Mt.
Zion (Big Eye) and Hall's Chapel which
combined to form Unity. All of these had
been progressive schools having one, two or
The Church of Christ organized and built
their first building in Iredell in 1945 on
Summerville Street. In 1969 a new brick
building was erected on Eastland Street.
Hard times and war took their toll on rural
America. Iredell in the 40's, 50's, and 60's saw
the farmers move to the cities to make a living
and the young men go to war, never to return
or to resettle in cities when the war was over.
In the once-thriving community where there
was always a crowd in town on Saturday
afternoons, businessmen were forced to close
their doors one by one. The once crowded
schools closed rooms and consolidated classes
and hit a low of around 70 students in the
The Texas Almanac noted the changing
conditions and influence of roads providing
easy access to distant shopping. Business
firms in 1941-42 numbered 30; in 1951-52 just
22; in 1961-62 only 16; and in 1972-73 only 6.
The 1970's brought a renaissance for
Iredell. The town grew from a population of
316 in 1970 to 404 in 1980. The school grew
to around 130 students in 12 grades.
Clara McDonald Williamson grew up with
Iredell. As a child from her home on the
northern hill overlooking the town she saw
the coming of the railroad, the floods, the
cattle drives and the changes they brought.
It wasn't until after moving to Dallas and the
death of her husband when she was in her 60's
that she was able to develop her artistic
talents and depict on canvas the pictures in
her head. "Aunt Clara" as she became known
was recognized as a skillful primitive artist
and in her paintings, which were done from
her childhood recollections of Iredell and the
surrounding area, figures can be recognized
by their characteristics which she remem-
bered so vividly. Her girlhood home still
stands in Iredell.
Iredell is also the home town of Foy
Willing, the band leader for the famed
"Riders of the Purple Sage."
In 1952, Highway 6 was rerouted to the
southern edge of Iredell and new businesses
began there. A feedmill, two gas stations,
grocery store, ank, machine shop, cafe and
laundry now line the highway and constitute
the main businesses.
Old downtown Iredell sees businesses come
and go. Iredell Lumber & Hardware is still
operated out of the building where Bill Helm
first opened for business in 1939. Three
publications were started in Iredell from 1976
to 1980 by Alden and Micki Nellis, newcom-
ers. The Iredell Times, Iredell's first newspa-
per since 1938, was published for eight years.
The American Agriculture News, a national
farm paper connected with the American
Agriculture Movement protest against low
farm prices, was begun in 1980. Housed in
other stone and brick 1900 style buildings
downtown are a garment manufacturing
plant owned by Bonnie Holley, an air filter
manufacturing plant owned by Danny Fowl-
er, a community center that the Chamber of
Commerce spearheaded and renovated, and
a lovely outdoor park made from the remains
of a burned out building once owned by John
and Mary Parks and donated in their mem-
ory to the Chamber by their daughter and
son-in-law, Imogene and W.R. Newsom.
The Chamber of Commerce has a motto for
Iredell-"For the past with a future, come to
Like most of rural America, Iredell remem-
bers the glory that was and now is struggling
to survive and recoup some of that glory.
Iredell is indebted to historian D.D.
Tidwell of Waco, now deceased, to Aunt
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Bosque County History Book Committee. Bosque County: Land and People (A History of Bosque County, Texas), book, 1985; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth91038/m1/69/?q=campbell: accessed August 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Denton Public Library.