H earne earned the title “the Crossroads of Texas” by virtue of two rail lines and two highways crisscrossing within its boundaries. A small town with an inordinate amount of heavy traffic, Hearne has always been a place where a lot of moving and shaking occurs. Indeed, “moving and shaking” characterized Hearne from its beginnings when namesake Christopher Columbus Hearne convinced the Houston & Texas Central Railroad to make a tiny, unincorporated village its terminus. Some years after, a visitor referred to Hearne as “19 saloons surrounding an artesian well.” Ninety-year resident Bill Palmos described Hearne as a rough town of good-hearted people with a matching reputation. He added that when people traveled by rail, “Houston, Hempstead, and Hell” was the conductor’s call. Even after saloons gave way to churches, schools, and service clubs, Hearne’s reputation for roughness stuck.
About the Author
Melissa Freeman came to Hearne in 2003 as reporter for the Robertson County newspapers. During her six years on the Hearne beat, she learned that the town not only had an interesting present but an intriguing past as well. Her work at Camp Hearne, a World War II POW camp, intensified that belief and became her motivation to study all 170 years of Hearne’s history.
Table of Contents
1 Hearne Beginnings 9
2 Seeds of Prosperity and Bitterness 19
3 Big Railroads and Big Cotton 31
4 Boom and Bust Between the Wars 51
5 Hearne Fights World War II 69
6 Postwar Bustle 85
7 Hard Times Come to Hearne 99
8 Hearne Today 107