The Hawkins area was awarded after the Texas Revolution to George Brewer. Many families bought land from the Brewer family and moved into the area. This area was the main thoroughfare leading to Belzora Crossing on the Sabine River. Many immigrants migrated to this area over that crossing.
The railroad purchased land from the early settlers. Prior to the year 1873, construction crews were building road beds, clearing trees and building bridges. It is said while building the roadway clearing area, close to what is now Hawkins, a Mr. Hawkins carved his initials on one of the trees. In 1873 a group of about 250 people applied to Washington for a post office, they looked to the name on the tree for the designation: hence the name, Hawkins, Texas.
The center of Hawkins, Texas is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 80 and FM 14, on the Missouri Pacific Line approximately twenty miles north of Tyler and twenty miles southeast of Quitman in the southeastern corner of Wood County.
By 1890, its population had fallen to around 200, but in 1896 the community reported 500 residents and a newspaper, the Hawkins Banner. In 1912, Jarvis Christian College was founded just outside the Hawkins city limits. By 1914, Hawkins had a population of 150, a telephone connection, and at least eighteen businesses, including a bank and two timber companies.
The community prospered through the development of cotton ginning. On October 8, 1916 a tragic fire completely destroyed the business district. The town was rebuilt and its principle business was farming, lumbering, and ginning. The community's population rose gradually from 30 in 1925 to 500 in the early 1930's.
On December 5, 1940, former lightweight boxer Bobby (Bobbie) Manziel made the first major oil discovery in Wood County, a wildcat well 3 1/2 miles north of town. Later that same year, independent operators Steve Rotundi (Rotondi) and F.R. Jackson hit oil within the Hawkins city limits. Land prices in the community soared with lots reportedly sold any from $500 to $10,000. The Humble Oil and Refining Company (later XTO) became a principal driller in the Hawkins field just north of the community, and as late as 1960 the Hawkins Camp (originally the Humble Camp), a densely populated oil-refining area, stood just to the north of the city.
In 1995, Texas Legislature designated Hawkins, Texas as the "Pancake Capital of Texas". Hawkins resident Lillian Richard, portrayed Quaker Oats' "Aunt Jemima" from 1911 to 1947.
The population in Hawkins has fluctuated throughout the years. In 1941 Hawkins had a population of 1,200, and by the late 1940s had incorporated. By the Early 1950's Hawkins had a population of 493 and twenty-five businesses, including a bank. The population of Hawkins climbed to 868 in the early 1960s, and has continued to rise slowly to an average of between 1200-1400. In 2010, Hawkins had a population of 1,248.
The State of Texas recognizes Hawkins as the Pancake Capital of Texas. Resident Lillian Richard, portrayed “Aunt Jemima” for 37 years for the Quaker Oats Company.
So come visit Hawkins! Amid the grandeur of towering pine trees, scenic Lake Hawkins, and the winding Sabine river; you will find peace in the heart of East Texas.