In February of 1938, R.E. Meek, H.D. Madsen, A.E. Schoeneberg, J.B. Putman, A.E. Berndt, Alfred N. Nilson, and Victor T. Jurasek met in the Wharton law office of Edwin Hawes, Jr. and adopted the Articles of Incorporation for Wharton County Electric Cooperative, Inc. They made an application to the State of Texas for a Charter. The charter was granted later that month, and WCEC was born!
Rural electrification has indeed changed the face of rural America. Prior to 1935, only three percent (3%) of the farms in Texas had electric service and these were in most cases in suburban areas on the edge of cities and towns.
The movement to secure rural electric service in Wharton County and adjacent areas began in the latter part of 1937 at a farm meeting in the Danevang Community Hall. At this meeting, the first Rural Electric Administration (REA) bulletin explaining the method of organizing a rural electric cooperative and how to construct a rural electric system was read. J. B. Putman, who lived northwest of El Campo had secured this bulletin.
In early 1938, a committee consisting of the following gentlemen: R. E. Meek, H. D. Madsen, A. E. Schoeneberg, J. B. Putman, A. E. Berndt, Alfred N. Nilson, and Victor T. Jurasek, met in the law office of Edwin Hawes, Jr., in Wharton and adopted Articles of Incorporation for Wharton County Electric Cooperative. An application was made to the State of Texas for a charter. This was granted in February 1938. On March 18, 1938, the first official meeting of the incorporators of Wharton County Electric Cooperative was held in El Campo at the office of E.G. Petersen.
The War Years
During the early 1940s, almost all activity on power line construction drew to a halt due to World War II.
However, WCEC was not idle during the war years. They helped to organize a Cooperative Community Canning Kitchen in El Campo and spearheaded a successful scrap metal drive. WCEC actually collected over a million pounds of scrap metal, which amounted to more than one ton per member!
The South Texas Electric Cooperative (STEC) was formed to provide generating and transmission services to six south Texas cooperatives including Wharton County Electric Cooperative. Service began in 1962.
Moving On Up
Also, in 1964, WCEC began providing security lights for members at a low cost. This was a welcome sight and the countryside has been lighted since that time.
In 2006, WCEC began offering Wirehand Wireless Internet service to meet the need for broadband service in rural areas.
Throughout the years, many individuals contributed unselfishly of their time and talents toward the success of WCEC. Many were pioneers of rural electrification in our community and took on a job that many said could not be done.
Well . . . they did it! And, the legacy which they created and the sound foundation on which Wharton County Electric Cooperative is built will continue into the future.