former city power plant. Today the city
TE photo, 2002
in a Pecan Shell|
Early settler John May received a land grant from the Mexican state of Coahuila
and Texas in 1835. There was very little history and no community per se until
after the Civil War when the area became a gathering point for cattle drives.
drives became the one immediate source of cash for the devastated Texas economy.
(The Chisholm Trail
was the major route for cattle drives to Kansas from 1867 through 1884. Although
cattle were herded from as far south as the Rio Grande, Yoakum is considered the
first town on the route. Cheaper than shipping by rail, by the time barbed
wire stopped the drives in 1885, more than 5 million head of cattle had been
shipped out of Texas. A Post Office Mural in Ogallala,
Nebraska commemorates the town’s role as the one-time terminus of the Chisholm
Yoakum didn’t experience substantial growth until the arrival
if the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad (the SAAP) in 1887. A townsite was
platted and General Manager of the railroad Benjamin F. Yoakum was honored as
the town’s namesake.
The community’s first store was opened that same
year and a post office was granted.
The railroad maintained a large railroad
yard and roundhouse in Yoakum.
By the mid 1890s Yoakum had a population
of 3,000 – which was enormous by 1890 standards. By 1914 it had more than doubled
The tanning industry began in 1919 when a man named Carl Welhausen
took over a small tanning company, and started to seriously produce saddles and
bridles for horses and belts and wallets for humans.
The population in
1940 was given as 4,733. The population is split between its two counties and
in 1984, 3,283 residents lived in Lavaca County while 2,325 others lived in DeWitt
The population of 5,611 in 1990 has grown slightly – to 5,731
for the 2000 census.
Yoakum remains as a division point for the railroad.
The former city power plant has been restored into the city
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Memorial Park in YoakumPhotos
Rocks From The
Sky by Murray Montgomery
appeared first in the Yoakum Times and the Halletsville Herald printed it on July
16, 1903. This fascinating piece was about a fellow named Benedict Manning who
was witness to several strange occurrences during his lifetime...