Fourth Street in Wills Point about 1914 when "Cotton was King"

To Wills Point

Thank you for stopping in, we hope you will browse around and learn a little bit about this East Texas city. We wish to thank everyone who furnished information especially the Van Zandt County Historical Commission who gave permission for the use of their publication Van Zandt County, Texas, Pictorial History 1848-1994. We wish to further thank all of the wonderful people who gave of their time and shared their photos with the Historical Commission so that this publication could be made available to those who are interested in our history. There were so many photos to choose from, that I hardly knew where to begin and had a very difficult time deciding where to stop. Additions, corrections, comments, complaint and compliments concerning this page should be submitted to Betty Miller and Betty Phillips.

Wills Point, Texas
by Wills Point Historical Society
transcribed by B. Miller, 1999
from Pictorial History of Van Zandt County, 1848-1994
with permission of Van Zandt County Historical Commission

Wills Point was named after William Wills, who settled in the area in 1849 along the old Dallas to Shreveport road that later became Highway 80. In 1870, the first post office was established, and shortly after the turn of the century, the town bustled as an agricultural community. It boasted cotton gins, a softdrink bottling works, an oil mill, and was a railroad shipping point for hay, grain, fruits, vegetables, and cotton. Today, agriculture still contributes to the town's rural atmosphere.

You can see cattle grazing pastures, fields of white cotton, fruit orchards and fresh growing vegetables only minutes from downtown. Dirt roads that once carried horse-drawn wagons through downtown gave way to the red brick streets in the early 1900s.

The brick streets and many of the brick buildings erected by founding families still stand downtown as a testament to Wills Point's earlier days.

On May 17, 1979, the Wills Point Historical Society was organized. The objective of the society is to collect, catalogue, and preserve letters , documents, photographs, and artifacts of the early days of the citizens of Wills Point, Texas. From the start, a building was needed to store and preserve artifacts collected by the society members. With great effort, a lease was made to the East End of the old Texas and Pacific Railroad depot.

After a considerable amount of renovation work, the depot was made into an interesting historical museum which has proven to be a source of pride and pleasure to the citizenry and visitors.

In 1990, a railroad caboose was presented to the city of Wills Point by the Union Pacific Railroad Company. The caboose has been cleaned up and brightly painted in its permant spot in Ollie Webb Park. It is a symbol of the vital role the railroad played in the early development of the city. Historic sites in Wills Point include the Caboose at Highway 80 downtown, the Depot Museum one block to the West, Wills Cabin on N.E. Commerce Street, (the original home of William Wills), Rose Monument at the entrance to downtown on 4th Street, and others.

Historical Markers are Scattered throughout Wills Point on homes, churches and school buildings.

A Bit About Wills Point Churches

Calvary Baptist Church is located at 301 W. O'Neal Street. The first prayer service was attended by Oleta Teel, Rev. Gene Lindsey and Merle Penny, and others.

The First Christian Church was founded in 1882 by Reverend John T. Poe. The church building was built in 1886. It was remodeled in 1920 an the belfry removed. The First Christian Church Historical Marker was dedicated on September 19, 1987.

The Pleasant Hill Baptist Church is located at 812 N. Wills Street. It began with Louis Edward Johnson as minister. Mr. William M. Frison, botn March 24, 1888, was employed at the First National Bank, for 36 years. He was the son of the late Rev. and Mrs. Isaac Frison of Marshall, Texas. He joined the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in 1902 and served the congregation as deacon for 60 years. His funeral was held on April 7, 1981.

The Russell Memorial United Methodist Church is located at 2nd and O'Neal Streets. Among the first buildings was one built in 1890. A more up-to-date brick building was dedicated in 1924 and the current building was dedicated in 1974.

The Church of Christ congregation began in 1910, with ten families meeting in their homes. Later they rented a building from the Presbyterian Church and in 1910 a new building was erected. Later this building was moved to O'Neal at Canton Streets. In April, 1990, the church bought 6-1/2 acres on Hwy 64 where the old sale barn was and ground was broken in February, 1993, for a new building.

Saint Mary's Church of God in Christ is located at 108 Dyer Street. In 1994 membership included Nathanie Dilworth, Charee Dunn, Alisha Thomas, Jessica Dilworth, Lemon Howard, Luvera Walker, Tiny Howard, Pauline Dixon, Darlene Dilworth, Lille Johnson, Gertrude Williams, Mary Thomas, Bobbie Dunn, R. L. Rose, David Williams, Chris Robertson, and Minister Frankie Dilworth.

The First Baptist Church was founded in 1873, and joined the Saline Baptist Association. In 1876 a frame building was built on the northeast corner of N. 4th and High Streets. It was blown away that same year. During 1880, J. W. Brice and the congregation of 36 built a building on 3rd and High Street. In 1900, J. H. Clouse became minister. In 1901, a tornado damaged the church and killed his two daughters. It was tough in the early days. All classes met in the auditorium and the only materials were quarterlies for adults and card classes were held for children. In 1914, a new building at N. 3rd. and High replaced the frame one. In 1925, the churches of this county formed the Van Zandt Association. The church is a member to this day. March, 1955, the Annex building was added to the auditorium, and serves as kitchen and fellowship hall. On December 3, 1992, under Reverand Donald Tisdale's leadership, ground was broken for a new auditorium. Enrollment had reached 1,111.

A little of 10 years after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints moved to Wills Point, it moved into its brand new building on Farm to Market Road 47 North, at the edge of Wills Point. The congregation met there for the first time January 25, 1987. The membership of the branch at the time of the move to the new building was 312. During the spring of 1990, the Wills Point Ward was approved as a Phase III Family History Center. In November, 1990 a computer system was installed at the local center. The Family History Center is open Tuesdays and Fridays for Genealogical Research. The public is invited to use the facilities at no charge. In addition, film can be ordered from Salt Lake at a nominal fee.

Photographs of interest for Wills Point, TX

The Wills Cabin was used as a resting place for travelers between Dallas and Shreveport, La. Over the years the Texas Department of Highway's, the Wednesday Book Club and the Business and Professional Women's Club have maintained and repaired the cabin. On February 10, 1963, a Texas Historical Medallion was awarded the rustic cabin by the Texas State Historical Survey Committee. A bronze plaque is in the front yard of the cabin giving a brief history.

L L Faulk(b. 1873 d. 1964), and wife, Mary Jane Scates Faulk (b. 1878 d. 1975), were the parents of Kathleen Faulk (b. 1899 d. 1975), who married Loy Lee Sanders (b. 1899 d. 1987). Kathleen and Loy Lee were the parents of Charles (b. 1935), Mary (b. 1943), Bill (b. 1935), Arvis (b. 1938), and Jack (b. 1923 - M.I.A. Korea 1950).

S. K. Hallman and his wife. Mr. hallman was a pioneer school teacher and founder of Hallman Memorials in 1900. It remains in the family today.

Thomas J. McKain was the first mayor of Wills Point.

The Wynne's of Wills Point in 1909. Seated is William Benjamin Wynne, and standing behind him left to right are: Angus Wynne, Buck Jim Wynne, Toddie Lee Wynne, and Gordon R. Wynne.

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This site last updated 29 May 2007

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