a Pecan Shell
The town is situated on land that was granted to Englishman Robert
B. Longbotham by Mexico in 1834, predating the Texas Revolution.
Things didnít get started from a community point of view until the
Houston and Texas Central Railroad came through in 1871.
Longbotham sold the railroad a right-of-way for a token five dollars
and a townsite was purchased (presumably for more than five dollars)
by an investment group that planned to name the town Tehuacana.
When a post office was opened, however, the name was changed to
Long Bottom. The corrupted name only lasted until 1874 when it was
renamed to honor Col. Rice Wortham, a merchant who had coaxed the
railroad into making the town a stop on their line.
In 1885 Wortham was still a very small place with a population of
just 30 residents.
The 1890s provided
the much-needed growth and by 1914 there were 950 people calling
The next spurt
of growth occurred in 1924 when the Wortham field came in with a
gusher from the Roy Simmons No. 1 well. In three weeks there were
more than 300 derricks spotting the landscape.
the list of Texas boomtowns with the population jumping from 1,000
to 30,000 by 1925.
infrastructure came near the breaking point and lawlessness and
chaos threatened the community. In 1927 the wells started losing
production and the population dropped back to a manageable 2,000
The Great Depression
took a hard swipe at Wortham, reducing businesses by one third.
The population declined to a low by 1975 that nearly matched the
1914 census of 950.
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