The community was named for former slaves Jim and Winnie Shankle. Jim was born in Kentucky in 1811, Winnie in Tennessee three years later. They were separated when Winnie's owners moved from Mississippi to Texas, taking Winnie and her three children. Jim later stole away and followed them to the Lone Star State. According to legend, Winnie's owner discovered Jim in hiding and arranged to buy him from his former master. The Shankles had six children in Texas, born between 1846 and 1859.
Jim became a farmer after emancipation and accumulated $200 in real and $125 in personal property by 1870. Although Winnie died in 1883 and Jim in 1888, Shankleville continued to be a center for blacks living in the Newton-Burkeville area. Over the years the community has been the site of a sawmill, a gristmill, and a cotton gin. One of Winnie's daughters, Mary, married Stephen McBride, who established McBride College in Shankleville, which operated from 1883 to 1909. The community in 1976 had three churches, two cemeteries, and about fifty families. The community was still listed as a populated place in 2004, but no population figures were available. Source: Handbook of Texas Online.
Shankleville Community. Named for Jim and Winnie Shankle, known as first Newton County blacks to buy land and become local leaders after gaining freedom by emancipation. Both were born in slavery: Jim in 1811, Winnie in 1814. After Winnie and her three children were sold to a Texan, Jim ran away from his Mississippi owner. He traveled by night, foraged for food, swam streams (including the Mississippi River), walking out of sight the 400 miles to East Texas. At dusk one day he found Winnie beside her master's spring (800 ft. W). After slipping out food for several days, Winnie told her master, who arranged to buy Jim. The couple worked side by side, bringing up Winnie's children and six of their own: Wash Rollins, Tobe Perkins, Mary McBride, George, Henry, Houston, John, Harriet (Odom), B. M. (Lewis). In 1867, they began buying land, and with associate, Steve McBride, eventually owned over 4,000 acres. In their neighborhood were prosperous farms, churches, a cotton gin, grist mills, sawmills, schools-- including McBride College (1883-1909), built by Steve McBride. Jim and Winnie Shankle are buried in Jim Shankle Cemetery (600 Ft. SW). A great-grandson, A. T. Odom, has been guardian of this heritage. Annual homecomings have been held since 1941. - Historical Marker Text. Marker erected 1973. Location: 3.5 mi SW of Burkeville, via SH 63 W to FM 1415 South. Across from cemetery, Shankleville.