History of Hoxie
The City of Hoxie was established in the early 1880s when Henry and Mary Boas moved to the area following the construction of railroads in the area. Mr. Boas was in the construction business and Mrs. Boas owned and managed railroad restaurants, following the construction of the new rail systems being built in the area.
The Boas family purchased 450 acres of land in Lawrence County where the town of Hoxie is presently located. In 1883, the Frisco Railroad made plans to come through this area and Mrs. Mary Boas negotiated with railroad officials to build the railroad on her property, giving them the land for the right of way and an additional twenty acres. The railroad gladly accepted this offer. Boas’s husband, Henry, also received a contract for construction of a section of the railroad from near Bono to Portia. The Boas Family built the first Boas Hotel, boarding house and restaurant in 1883 north of the intersection of the Iron Mountain and the Kansas City, Springfield, & Memphis Railroads. Thus the town of Hoxie was born and named for an official of the Iron Mountain Railroad Herbert Melville (Jack) Hoxie.
The city of Hoxie was incorporated on February 4, 1888.
The original Boas Hotel and restaurant was expanded, but later burned to the ground. The second boas Hotel was built in the same location in 1913, by John S. and Annie Boas Gibson, daughter of Henry and Mary Boas. This hotel was a beautiful brick structure that boasted a spacious lobby with tiled floors, terra cotta trim, a baby grand piano, a fine dining room and fifty spacious rooms. Sadly, it also burned to the ground in 1931 and was never replaced. Three storefronts that were attached to the building still remain and continue to serve city businesses.
After the fire, John and Annie Boas did rebuild their home, which was attached to the hotel, with a beautiful English Tudor Revival style home. The home also boasted beautiful English style gardens and a fish pond on the back lawn. The home still stands today and is a prominent landmark of the city’s rich history.
In the early years, Hoxie grew fairly rapidly with the crossroads of two major rail road’s right in the center of town. The installation of a railroad roundhouse, repair shops and railroad offices spurred growth and employed as many as 450 men, many other businesses and churches moved to the area. Hoxie was home to banks, newspapers, sawmills, the YMCA, hotels, grocery and drug stores, theatres, cotton gins, stock yards and even lighted tennis courts! The town flourished until the early 1920’s when the railroad men went on strike and railroad jobs moved from the area.
Along with the Depression, the city was plagued with fires and multiple tornadoes over the years that caused destruction and slowed growth.
Public schools were established in Hoxie in 1887, with the first location at the corner of Annie and Lawrence streets, followed by a school at the corner of Lawrence and Lindsey. The first school built on the current campus was constructed in 1926. The building was three stories and had an auditorium that would seat a thousand people! This building was damaged by a tornado in 1927 and destroyed by fire in 1941. Fires and tornadoes devastated multiple school buildings throughout the history of the school, but the school overcame the adversities and continues to be a vital element of the community.
One highlight in the history of Hoxie was the desegregation of the public schools in June of 1955. Hoxie Public schools was the first successfully contested integrated school in the state, two years prior to the famed Little Rock Central high school. The school board cited three reasons for integration: It complied with the Supreme Court ruling in BROWN vs. BOARD OF EDUCATION, “it was right in the sight of God” and it saved money. The desegregation process for the school began without much incident until LIFE Magazine ran a three-page article about the desegregation and segregationist groups from other areas began a campaign to stop the integration by circulating petitions, holding town meetings, leading public protests and making threats to school board members. Their attempts failed and a permanent injunction stating the school had the right to integrate without outside interference was issued by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. School resumed and twenty five black students began attending Hoxie Public Schools without further incidents.
Hoxie’s growth slowly increased through the eighties and the population has remained about the same. The community has a small city park and the Kenneth Quarry Community Center where many events within the town take place. School sporting events and functions as well as, activities sponsored by one of the eight churches in the community are a high priority to the residents of Hoxie!