Following notes from CampHowzeMuseum.org:
Camp Howze, activated on August 17, 1942, trained three main divisions: the 84th “Rail-splitters” Division,
the 86th “Black Hawk” Division, and the 103rd “Cactus” Division. People from all over the country and from
diverse cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds suddently found themselves in Gainesville and each had
their unique story to tell. Built to support a capacity of 40,000 soldiers, with its own airfield, hospital,
theaters, and one of the largest laundry plants of its kind Camp Howze was like a city of its own.
The Camp Howze Howitzer, the internal camp newspaper reported on happenings in the camp, events in the
surrounding communities, and updates from the army divisions. The newspaper even featured comics with funny
anecdotes about army life. Civilians, including women, played a signficant role in camp operations through
volunteer and paid positions. Camp Howze also welcomed some famous visitors such as professional heavyweight
boxer Joe Louis. Additionally, roughly 3,000 German POWs were interned at Camp Howze between 1943 and 1946
bringing a tangible representation of the war being fought abroad into North Texas.
The lines between military and civilian life blurred. The camp turned sleepy Gainesville streets into bustling
thoroughfares giving way to a much needed economic boon for local businesses which were still struggling
following the Great Depression. The POWs at Camp Howze were considered to be "low risk" and allowed to
work in the surrounding area. But not everyone found profit in the camp’s existence. Sitting atop some of
Cooke County’s richest farm land, Camp Howze displaced about 300 farming families requiring them to seek
alternate homes and ways to make a living. The area’s mushrooming population brought increased demand for
labor, transportation, and other essential city services. The influx of people caused Gainesville to
experience an unprecedented housing crisis forcing city officials to scramble for solutions such as the
pop-up housing project dubbed, "Howzeville."