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Henry Ford's role in irrigation in Brown County
Posted by: Jay Longley (ID *****5893) Date: January 31, 2007 at 20:48:08
  of 15140

The following excerpt is from: "Something About Brown" by T.R.
Havins, 1958, Banner Printing Company - Brownwood, page 74. It tells
of the role Bill Anderson's close friend Henry Ford played in
bringing a progressive irrigation system to Brown County.


"...The proposal of Ingle aroused interest, and a permanent
irrigation committee was the outcome. Henry Ford became chairman and
a special soliciting committee composed of L.P. Baugh, S.P. Burns,
Frank A. Swindon, Charles Wells and D.H. Wood began soliciting
acreage in the various communities affected, holding ten community
mass meetings between August 24, and September 5. In the meantime
both the Brownwood Bulletin and the Pecan Valley News gave large
space to news items on irrigation in other sections of the United
States. Henry Ford wrote lengthy articles for both newspapers in
which he advocated the proposed project. A second mass meeting in
Brownwood in August, 1894, appointed a committee to visit California
for an inspection of irrigation in that state. This committee,
composed of W.C. Parks, S.R. Coggin, Henry Ford, and W.H. Clark, left
immediately for California and spent nearly a month. After returning
home the members made a favorable report on their visit and declared
that the Brown county project appeared to have greater possibilities
than anything they had seen in the West.
The acreage committee continued its efforts during 1894 and into the
summer of 1895, reporting on July 1, 1895, that land owners had
pledged 38,000 acres for irrigation. But at this juncture an
insurperable obstacle arose when several large land owners whose
lands would be submerged if a lake were built, refused to negotiate
with the syndicate. Finally, when the syndicate demanded contracts
on the pledged acreage, only about 5,000 acres were actually tendered
for contract. Discouraged but not willing to admit defeat, Brooke
Smith contacted Boston capitalists who sent William Beall, Jr., to
Brownwood in October 1896. He spent three weeks in the area, and
with the aid of L.P. Baugh, J.F. Smith, and Jap Hill, attempted to
revive the interest of the land owners. Little interest was evinced
in the project, and the proposal for a dam on the river lay dormant
until 1924..."

As everyone, who has ever visited our beautiful Lake Brownwood knows,
Henry Ford's proposal was delayed but not defeated.

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