This Week in Texas Methodist History

Date Posted: 3/12/2012

St. Mark’s Orange Organized to Serve Defense Industry Workers, March, 1944


World War II transformed Texas, and therefore Texas Methodism, as few other events have.  President Franklin Roosevelt called America the “Arsenal of Democracy,” as American industry ramped up production to provide aircraft, boats, tanks, fuels, lubricants, munitions, and all the other manufactured goods necessary for fighting war in the industrial age.  All regions of Texas were impacted by the war effort, either from the establishment of military posts, prisoner of war camps, or war production facilities. The Dallas-Fort Worth area specialized in aircraft. The Gulf Coastal Plain from Corpus Christi to Baton Rouge was covered, almost overnight, with refineries, chemical plants, metal smelters, synthetic rubber factories, and other industries.


Employment opportunities in those plants lured thousands of Texans from farms and pine forests to work for wages that seemed almost too good to be true.  A state demographer estimated that about 350,000 Texans moved from rural areas to the new defense industries in the 18 months after Pearl Harbor. 


Orange, Texas, near the mouth of the Sabine River, was one of the cities most impacted...


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