Willis, Texas

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Willis, Texas
City Hall of Willis, Texas
City Hall of Willis, Texas
Location within Montgomery county
Location within Montgomery county
Coordinates: 30°25′22″N 95°28′44″W / 30.42278°N 95.47889°W / 30.42278; -95.47889Coordinates: 30°25′22″N 95°28′44″W / 30.42278°N 95.47889°W / 30.42278; -95.47889
Country United States
State Texas
County Montgomery
Incorporated 1937 (Home Rule: 2008)
Government[1]
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Mayor Leonard Reed
 • Council Members Tamara Young-Hector
John F. Lovelady
Thomas Belinoski
Thomas Luster
Bill Van Alstyne
Area
 • Total 3.3 sq mi (8.5 km2)
 • Land 3.3 sq mi (8.5 km2)
Elevation 381 ft (116 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 5,662
 • Density 1,700/sq mi (670/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 77318, 77378
Area code(s) 936
FIPS code 48-79408[2]
GNIS feature ID 1371602[3]

Willis is a city in Montgomery County, Texas, United States, located eight miles north of Conroe in north central Montgomery County. The city began to develop in 1870 after what is now a Union Pacific Railroad was built through the area. As a part of the Piney Woods, The Willis economy has historically been driven by lumber, agriculture, and the manufacture of lumber and agriculture equipment.

As of 2016, the population of Willis was estimated to be 6,370. In 2008, after Willis' population passed 5,000, the city established a home rule city charter.

Geography[edit]

Willis is located at 30°25′22″N 95°28′44″W / 30.42278°N 95.47889°W / 30.42278; -95.47889 (30.422640, -95.478829).[4]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.3 square miles (8.5 km2), all of it land.

History[edit]

Willis Cigar Factory. Texas Historic Marker, N. Bell St., Willis, TX

Before the founding of Willis, most residents in the area lived in a settlement known as Danville, formed four miles west of present-day New Waverly in the 1830s.[5] A few Danville residents in the 1850s settled south of Danville in what is now Willis.[6] Several of these early Danville residents were large slave plantation owners.[6] About 600 of the estimated 1,000 early Danville residents in the 1850s were slaves.[5] After the Civil War, many recently freed slaves lived in the Willis area, establishing Thomas Chapel United Methodist Church in 1867, the oldest church in Willis.[6]

In 1870, The Houston and Great Northern Railroad (now the Union Pacific Railroad) decided to build a railroad through Montgomery County. After residents of Danville refused to allow the railroad to be built through their town, Peter J. and Richard S. Willis donated a parcel of their landholdings in Montgomery County so that the railroad could travel through it, founding the town of Willis in the process.[5][6][7] Upon the railroad's completion in 1872, many residents of the surrounding communities of Danville, Old Waverly, and Montgomery moved to the new town of Willis.[7][6]

In 1874, a county election was held to determine whether the county seat of Montgomery County should be transferred from the town of Montgomery to Willis.[6][7] Although Willis received more votes (788 to 646), Willis did not receive the requisite two-thirds majority, so the county seat remained officially in Montgomery.[6] A protracted legal battle ended in 1878 when the Supreme Court of Texas ruled in favor of Montgomery.[6] With several county officials and Willis residents refusing to accept the results, another county seat election was held in 1880, with Montgomery winning the vote over Willis 1308 to 1243.[6] The dispute between the two towns finally ended in 1889, when Conroe was selected as the county seat.[6][8]

In the 1870s, the main occupations were farming, shipping, and the manufacture of lumber and agricultural products.[7] In 1891, local Willis residents start growing Cuban tobacco, turning Willis into a hub for the production of cigars and other tobacco products.[6][7] During the early years of the Great Depression, Willis suffered from falling demand in lumber products and a sharp decline in the demand for tobacco products.[7] The economy began to recover in 1931 during the Texas oil boom, when oil was discovered in the area.[7] In the 1930s and 40s, the development of U.S. Route 75 along with the recovery of the lumber industry during World War II fully revitalized the local economy.[7][6] In the mid to late 20th century through the present, agriculture and lumber remain vital components of the Willis economy, in addition to the retail, service, and manufacturing industries.[9][7]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880656
1940904
19501,16428.8%
1960975−16.2%
19701,57761.7%
19801,6746.2%
19902,76465.1%
20003,98544.2%
20105,66242.1%
Est. 20166,370[10]12.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[11]

As of the 2010 United States Census,[12] there were 5,662 people, 1,782 households, and 1,340 families residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 56.7% White, 18.2% African American, 0.9% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 20.1% from other races, and 3.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 38.0% of the population.

There were 1,782 households out of which 42.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.5% were married couples living together, 25.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.8% were non-families. 19.6% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 3.10 and the average family size was 3.55.

In the city, the population was spread out with 33.3% under the age of 18, 11.3% from 18 to 24, 28.4% from 25 to 44, 18.3% from 45 to 64, and 8.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29.1 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.3 males.

According to the 2015 American Community Survey, The median income for a household in the city was $36,640, and the median income for a family was $38,244. Males had a median income of $26,320 versus $18,036 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,122. About 15.6% of families and 14.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.1% of those under age 18 and 42.6% of those age 65 or over.

Government[edit]

Local Government[edit]

The city was incorporated in 1937.[6] When Willis was incorporated, it was governed by general law, as defined by the Constitution of Texas.[13] In 2008, when population estimates placed the population of the city above 5000, Willis obtained the ability to adopt a Home rule city charter. Home Rule in Texas allows cities the ability to establish their own laws as long as those laws are consistent with the Texas Constitution. It also grants greater freedom for cities in levying taxes and paying off debts.[14] On May 10, 2008, the residents of Willis voted to adopt the City of Willis Home Rule Charter.[15]

The city is operated by a council-manager government. The primary governing body is a six member city council consisting of an elected mayor and five city council members. The current mayor is Leonard Reed. Current council members are Tamara Yong, John F. Lovelady, Thomas Belinoski, Thomas Luster, and Bill Van Alstyne.[1] The council-manager government also grants substantial administrative powers to a city manager appointed by the council.[15] The current city manager is Hector Forestier.[16]

State Government[edit]

In the Texas Senate, Willis is part of District 3, represented by Republican Robert Nichols. In the Texas House of Representatives, Willis is part of District 16, represented by Republican Will Metcalf.[17]

Federal Government[edit]

Willis Post Office, Willis, Texas 77378

In the United States Senate, Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz represent the entire state of Texas. In the United States House of Representatives, Willis is part of District 8, represented by Republican Kevin Brady.[17]

The United States Postal Service Willis Post Office is located at 609 North Campbell Street.[18]

Infrastructure[edit]

Transportation[edit]

In the 1960s, Interstate 45 was built through the western portion of Willis, connecting Willis with Houston to the south and Dallas to the north. The previous Houston-Dallas route through Willis, U.S. route 75, is now Texas State Highway 75, running parallel to Interstate 45 through downtown Willis.

Farm to Market Road 1097 connects Willis to Lake Conroe and Montgomery to the west. Its eastern terminus is Texas State Highway 150 to the east of New Waverly.

Union Pacific operates a railroad that travels north-south through Willis.

Parks and Recreation[edit]

The central portion of Lake Conroe is located a few miles west of Willis.[19]

Sam Houston National Forest is located several miles west, north, and east of Willis.[20]

Education[edit]

Willis High School

Primary and secondary schools[edit]

Public schools[edit]

Willis' public schools are operated by the Willis Independent School District and Responsive Education Solutions.

Five elementary schools, all of which are in Willis, serve portions of Willis:

Two middle schools serve portions of Willis:

All of the city is zoned to Willis High School [1] in Unincorporated Montgomery County.

Portions of the city used to be zoned to Turner Elementary School [2] until the attendance zoned changed for the 2006–2007 school year, rezoning the portion to Hardy Elementary School [3].

Area private schools[edit]

Colleges and universities[edit]

Lone Star College (originally the North Harris Montgomery Community College District) serves the community. The territory in Willis ISD joined the community college district in 1996.[21] The nearest campus is Lone Star College-Montgomery, which operates the Conroe Center in northern Conroe.[22]

Public libraries[edit]

Montgomery County Memorial Library System operates the R. F. Meador Branch at 709 West Montgomery Street.[23]

Notable people[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Mayor and City Council. City of Willis, Texas. Accessed on July 5, 2017.
  2. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  5. ^ a b c Danville Heritage Museum of Montgomery County. Accessed on July 5, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Foerster, Larry L. Historical Timeline of Willis, Texas. Montgomery County Historical Commission: June 2013. Accessed on July 5, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Jackson, Charles Christopher. Willis, Texas. Handbook of Texas Online: June 15, 2010. Accessed on July 5, 2017.
  8. ^ Harley Gandy, William.Excerpts from “A History of Montgomery County, Texas” Chapter V, Cities, Towns, and Communities. County GenWeb: October 18, 2016. Accessed on July 5, 2017.
  9. ^ Willis Visitors Guide. City of Willis, Texas. Accessed on July 5, 2017.
  10. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  12. ^ American Factfinder: Willis. United States Census Bureau. Accessed on July 5, 2017.
  13. ^ Texas Constitution, Article XI, Section 4.
  14. ^ Texas Constitution, Article XI, Section 5.
  15. ^ a b Home Rule Charter. City of Willis: Adopted May 10, 2008. Last Amended: May 10, 2014. Accessed on July 5, 2017.
  16. ^ City Manager. City of Willis, Texas. Accessed on July 5, 2017.
  17. ^ a b Who Represents Me: Willis. Texas Legislative Council. Accessed on July 5, 2017.
  18. ^ "Post Office Location - WILLIS." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on December 8, 2008.
  19. ^ Fishing Lake Conroe Texas Parks and Wildlife. Accessed on July 5, 2017.
  20. ^ Sam Houston National Forest. USDA Forest Service. Accessed on July 5, 2017.
  21. ^ "History." North Harris Montgomery Community College District. December 22, 2002. Retrieved on April 5, 2010.
  22. ^ LSC-Conroe Center. Lone Star College. Accessed on July 5, 2017.
  23. ^ "R. F. Meador Branch Library." Montgomery County Memorial Library System. Retrieved on December 8, 2008.
  24. ^ Michael Bishop Stats. Fox Sports. Accessed on July 5, 2017.
  25. ^ Cliff Young. Baseball Reference. Accessed on July 5, 2017.
  26. ^ Solomon, Jerome. Solomon: Hollins' tale goes far beyond cup of coffee. Houston Chronicle: July 19, 2009. Accessed on July 5, 2017.
  27. ^ D.D. Terry. CBS Sports. Accessed on July 5, 2017.
  28. ^ Isensee, Laura. Willis resident reflects on surviving Afghanistan battle. Houston Chronicle:July 3, 2007. Accessed on July 5, 2017.

External links[edit]