Brady, The Heart of Texas

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Brady was incorporated as a city in 1906, as the economy boomed. Cotton and poultry became major industries, as the number of farms passed 1,500, and cattle production continued to grow. The county’s population more than tripled (to 13,405) during the first decade of the twentieth century, and the city grew to a population of 2,669. Retail business boomed and banks were formed as the city became a major commercial center for the area. Perhaps in deference to the problems which often accompany such rapid growth, the county built a new jail in 1910. (but it was one of the fanciest jails ever; the striking building serves now as the Heart of Texas Historical Museum.)

During the 1920s, McCulloch County billed itself as the “Turkey Center of the Universe,” and attracted national attention by driving huge flocks of the domesticated birds around the square in an annual “Turkey Trot.” In the meantime, wool and mohair became a major source of income.

While the Great Depression forced some county residents to give up their farms and move away, the city itself continued to grow. In 1940, Mayor Harry L. Curtis proposed a site north of town (now Curtis Field, the municipal airport) as a training field for the air force. As many as 500 students were enrolled at a time, and some 10,000 pilots graduated between 1941 and 1945. As the war progressed, Brady also became the site for a 200-building prisoner-of-war camp, and nearly 3,000 “trouble-makers” (many of them SS or Gestapo) from camps across the country were interred here.

The Heart of Texas
Photo: Facebook/Texas Hill Country

Brady produced many outstanding achievers during the early years of heady growth. Perhaps the most notable of these was G. Rollie White, whose parents came to Brady from Missouri in a covered wagon in 1875 before he was even one year old. White made his first cattle drive in 1887 when he was 12 years old. He started gathering steers when he was barely a teenager and sold his first herd for $600 when he was just 16. After graduating from Texas A&M with an engineering degree in 1895, he went into the cattle business with his father. He was amazingly successful!