Grayson College Chemistry Building

One of the first settlements in Grayson County was established by immigrants from Kentucky around 1850 three miles east of the current town of Whitewright, in the middle of the state’s richest farmland.  Kentucky Town received its official designation when a post office was established in June 1954.  The town – located along stage and freight lines from Shreveport and Jefferson – grew and prospered until the mid-1870s, when the Texas and Pacific Railway bypassed the town.  In the early 1870s, New York investor William Whitewright, Jr. had purchased a large tract of land located in the path the expanding Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad.  By 1978, Whitewright’s land had been surveyed as a townsite and his two agents, Tennessean James H. Reeves and Kentuckian James M. Batsell, were selling lots in the new community.  Due to its rail connection, Whitewright attracted settlers and businesses.

Grayson College President’s House

 

By 1888, Whitewright had become an incorporated town and center for cotton production.  The town had a newspaper, a post office, several businesses – mercantile stores, hotels, a bank and cotton gins – a public school and Grayson College.  At the beginning of the 20th century, Whitewright’s population was over 1,800 and continuing to grow.  A branch of the Cotton Belt Railroad from Commerce to Sherman established a station in Whitewright in the 1920s, enhancing its status as a marketing and commercial center for producers of cotton, wheat, and corn.

Kay Kimbell grew up and attended public school in Whitewright, dropping out in the 8th grade to work in a grain mill.  He founded the Beatrice Milling Company in Whitewright in the early 1900s.  The company grew into Kimbell Milling Company, which became the center of a diverse business organization.  When he died, he owned or served as a director of over 70 corporations that included wholesale grocery, insurance, feed and flour mills and a grocery chain.  Kimbell was an avid art collector and established the Kimbell Art Foundation in Fort Worth in 1935.  He left his fortune to the foundation with instructions to build a first-class art museum in Fort Worth.

REFERENCE:  Brian Hart, “WHITEWRIGHT, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hjw10), accessed December 08, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.