Mineola is at the crossing of U.S. highways 69 and 80, eighty miles east of Dallas in southwestern Wood County. Before 1873 the place was called Sodom. According to some, Maj. Ira H. Evans, an International-Great Northern Railroad official who laid out the townsite, named the town for his daughter, Ola, and a friend, Minnie Patten. Others say the name originated when Major Rusk, a surveyor for the I-GN, combined his daughter's name with that of Minna Wesley Patten. The town came into existence when the railroads built lines through this part of the state. In 1873 the Texas and Pacific and the I-GN raced to see which could get to Mineola first. The I-GN reached the finish fifteen minutes earlier. A city government was organized in 1873, a post office opened in 1875, and the town incorporated in 1877, but a fire in the 1880s destroyed eighteen buildings. The town's oldest paper, the Mineola Monitor, was founded in 1876. By 1890 the town had seven churches, several schools including a black free school, hotels, banks, and a population of 2,000. In 1895 Mineola became the site of the Wood County Fair.
Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.
Ora P. Bruner | © Texas State Historical Association
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