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"World War II Comes to Williamson County" is an educational website put forth by The Williamson Museum in Georgetown, Texas, which documents the histories, experiences, and stories of Williamson County residents living during World War II.  On this site, you will find documents, images, and objects that tell the stories of the men, women, and children who lived through this difficult time in American history.

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WORLD WAR II IN WILLIAMSON COUNTY

As with many rural communities across the county, Williamson County, Texas was largely agricultural, conducting the majority of its business in farming, ranching, and mills.  When the United States entered World War II in December, 1941, many small counties across the country saw their men and women leave home to enlist in the armed forces.  Williamson County was no exception.

Approximately four percent of Williamson County's population (which, in 1940, approached nearly 42,000) enlisted in the war effort between 1941 and 1945.  The number of young men and women enlistees totaled 1,600, with the highest number of enlistments coming in 1942, at 806 [1].  Williamson County residents fought on all fronts, with many participating in key operations during the war; some examples include the Doolittle Raid, the liberation of Dachau, the D-Day invasion, and the Japanese surrender.  One of the county's residents, Captain Eli Whiteley, from Florence, Texas, received a Congressional Medal of Honor in 1945 for the effort he put forth and the injuries he sustained in battle in Sigolsheim, France, in December 1944 [2].

Like most communities across the country, Williamson County was tasked with selling war bonds, conducting scrap metal drives, salvage operations, rationing, and providing entertainment for the troops as part of the war effort.  In 1944, for example, Williamson County was given a war bond quota of $987,000 [3]. Local residents, such as Judge Samuel V. Stone, took charge of not only salvage and fundraising programs, but also civil defense operations in the county.  All residents were expected to do their part to keep the country's workers employed and the United States in the war.

Southwestern University, in Georgetown, Texas, played a critical role during the war.  It housed the Navy's first V-12 officer training program in the Southwest, with the school's president, Dr. JNR Score, being informed of the appointment by future president Lyndon Baines Johnson, then a Congressman for the state of Texas.  A United States Victory Ship, named the S. S. Southwestern Victory, was named after the school and began service in 1945. [4]

Williamson County did not escape the casualties of war.  In all, approximately 75 soldiers from the county perished during the conflict or were presumed dead after having gone missing in action.  One of the casualties was Duncan Spence Hughes, from Georgetown, Texas, who became the first Texas legislator to perish in the conflict.  He was elected to the Texas legislature in 1940, but died in 1942 after being shot down over New Guinea.

Like most communities across the country, Williamson County's residents sacrificed their time, resources, and even some of their own for the American war effort.  This website seeks to share some of their experiences and stories.

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[1] National Archives and Records Administration.

[2] Dallas Morning News, "Highest Medal Given Texas Army Officer," 17 Aug 1945.

[3] Dallas Morning News, "Williamson County Bond Quota $987,000," 16 Jan 1944.

[4] Williamson County Sun, "Ship Name to Honor Southwestern," 17 Nov 1944.