Gorman Texas Est. 1889
Gorman is on State Highway 6 and Farm
Road 8 on the southeastern edge of
Eastland County. It grew out of the earlier community of Shinoak, which was renamed Gorman for Patrick Gorman, roadmaster
of the Texas Central Railroad in 1889,
when a new post office was granted.
The first store was built by Dick Mason,
and the town was incorporated on May 15, 1902, with H. T. (Tom) Hamrick as mayor. However, the town wasn't officially chartered until April 26, 1920.
By 1904 Gorman had various stores,
a hotel, a gin, a lumberyard, a canning factory, electric street lights, and a newspaper
named the Gorman Ledger. Hankins College was located in Gorman from 1905 to 1912. During the Eastland County oil boom of
1917–22 Gorman became an important
supply center, and its population grew considerably. The Kirk oilfield was located nearby. Along with the major peanut
industry, Gorman had over thirty
businesses and 1,226 inhabitants in 1980.
By 2012, the population had dwindled to 1,083.
taken from tshaonline.org
The first peanut-shelling machine in Texas was used in Gorman in 1940, and in 1986 Gorman had one of the most efficient shelling plants in the United States, making it the Peanut Capital of the Southwest. Both the Texas Peanut Producers Board and the Southwest Peanut Growers' Association were headquartered in Gorman; the latter ran the western Peanut Price Support Program for the United States Department of Agriculture. As of this time, the peanuts have moved to South Texas and New Mexico.
Another large industry founded and built in Gorman by Harold Fritts is Gorman Milling Company (aka Red Chain Feeds). Mr. Fritts started his business here in 1969 in a tent with one telephone. He has since grown this operation, with the help of his three sons (Bob, Matt and John) to a booming business that employees over 100 people and ships out or sacks up thousands of tons of feed per day.
Gorman is also know for the now famous Blackwell Sanitarium. Dr's George and Edward Blackwell founded/built the hospital in 1919 after seeing the need for patient care facilities. Blackwell Hospital, as it later became known, operated from 1919 until 1971. At one point it had grown to become a four-story brick edifice, with doctor and dental offices, clinic and laboratory. Dr David V Rodgers (George Blackwell's son-in-law) joined the staff in 1938 and assumed leadership in the 1950's. By 1969, Dr Rodgers had the bragging rights of delivering 8,850 babies. People born in Blackwell Hospital, Gorman Texas, can be found anywhere you go! In 1971 a "new" hospital was built in a different location that assumed the old hospitals name. The original hospital building sat vacant from 1971-1989 when it was torn down possibly because of it being a great "dare" sight for children to go into (I may have been one).
Gorman was also home to Hankins Normal College from 1905-1912. This college was founded by identical twin brothers, J.H. and J.F. Hankins who came to the area from Arkansas. Normal colleges in Texas first evolved in the late 1870’s when the state legislature required teachers to pass certain teaching standards or “norms”. Students attended Hankins Normal to prepare to teach in the multitude of small schools scattered throughout Eastland, Comanche and Erath counties. The campus had several buildings including the main building which after expansion included what was said to be as many as 20 spacious class rooms, an auditorium/study hall and offices. The school had organized basketball and baseball teams. Coeds lived in private residences while there was a two story dormitory on campus which could house fifty boys. Most of the students were from the farms and communities around Gorman. The Financial Panic of 1907 put great financial pressures on the college. The business constriction that evolved into a banking panic began in May 1907. In October the Knickerbocker Trust Co., one of New York City’s largest banks as well as a few other banks and stock exchange firms folded as the overvalued prices of copper and railroad stocks began a major contraction. Within the month, the banking panic was under control in New York but reverberations started to spread across the country. While Texas was not as seriously impacted as many states, banks began taking precautionary actions such as curtailing loans, and limiting the amount of cash that could be withdrawn generally to a maximum of $25 per day. The fact that the college survived this panic is generally attributed to area residents and businesses providing support during the panic. The panic ended in June 1908 and the college managed to hang on for another two school years, closing probably following the spring session of 1912. A marker was placed at the location of the campus on the north side of Highway 6 just inside the Gorman city limits. The college held an annual reunion for many years on the first Sunday in June. (Sources: Mike McCormick, Jimmie Bell Wakins as found on deleonhistory.com)
Another local attraction for Gorman has always been Frank Fray Memorial Park, aka Bass Lake. It was the original site to the community that later became Gorman. Named for dwarf oaks. Before fencing began in 1880's, springs attracted cattle, horses, deer. Settlers hauled water for home and stock use. Town of Shinoak Springs thrived until M.K.&T. Railroad bypassed it in 1880. Schoolhouse of rawhide lumber was built in 1882. Had seats of split logs. Pupils numbered 55. School grounds drew crowds of 8,000 for political rallies and camp meetings. A lake was formed 1911 by a rock dam. Frank Gray Memorial Park, given to city of Gorman, is now recreation and reunion ground, at site of old springs. An excerpt from 1966 (taken from stoppingpoints.com) . Once a lake was formed, the springs became a swimming "pool" for the area with a skating rink close by. There were bath houses where you could change into the bathing suit that you rented, a rope swing, a spinning top (that you can still see part of fallen into the lake), and a diving platform. At one time, very early on, they had a trolley boat that they pulled up out of the water on tracks and would let go of the rope so that it would "fall" into the water. June 27, 1916, the people that tried to settle in Shin Oak Springs, sold their undivided 24/25 interest of Bass Lake to Mr. H L Capers. In June of 1947, Mr. Capers deeded the property to the city of Gorman under the condition that the name would change to Frank Gray Memorial Park, in memory of their foster son that was killed in action in 1944 and other conditions involving the natural flow of the springs into the swimming pool and prices charged for swimming. In the later years of Bass Lakes prime, 1980's, the city had a grand 4th of July celebration every year with games, food, entertainment and capped the day off with a massive firework display that night. It was an all day affair that attracted almost everyone in town and lots of folks out of town! Now the park is used for birthday parties and wedding venues.