There’s not much left to see in Enochs, TX these days except the remains of a post office, store, cotton gins, and this pretty little church. Buildings abandoned in the Texas Panhandle either get ravaged by storms or just quietly fall apart and Enochs has some of both. I was particularly attracted to the church by its simple lines, unadorned facade, and pueblo-styled steeple. Its setting in the middle of a field, a half-mile off the highway only accentuated its forlorn condition. Enochs developed as a trading center for the surrounding farms and ranches beginning in the 1920s and reached a peak reported population of 250 in 1940, when it had five stores. In the 1980 and 1990 censuses its population was estimated at 164, and the town had several businesses and a post office. Enochs can be found at the junction of State Highway 214 and Farm Road 54, three miles from the Cochran County line in southern Bailey County.
REFERENCE: ”ENOCHS, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hle23), accessed December 15, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
The Crabapple School is one of twelve old school buildings saved by The Friends of Gillespie County Country Schools, Inc. All of them are picturesque, quaint and remotely located – the communities they once served, long gone. Many of the buildings were built in the familiar German-Texan vernacular of the Fredericksburg area.
German immigrants who came to Fredericksburg in the 1840 and later, settled in the Crabapple area. Many parents were eager to donate land so a school could be built near their homes. The two families who were extremely anxious to give the land for a school were Crockett Riley and Mathias Schmidt. It was decided to have a foot race to see who would have the privilege of donating the land. Mathias Schmidt, a farmer, won the race. The school was then built on the land he gave for this purpose. The families donated their labor to erect a school building of native limestone, which opened in 1878 as Crabapple School #10.
This first building was a two-story rock house consisting of two rooms. One room was a used as a classroom, with the other used as a teacherage or living quarters for the teacher. The upstairs, used for storage, had an outside stairway. About 10 years later, another room was added. Between 1887 and 1910, this building also served as a post office. In 1882, the second school building was built of limestone at a cost of $600. It not only served as the school, but also as the Lutheran church, until the congregation built their own church nearby in 1897. There was only one teacher to teach all grades.
The highest enrollment was at the turn of the century with about 40 students. Teachers’ salaries ranged from $80 per month in the 1920′s to $250 in the early 1950′s. In all, 28 teachers taught at the Crabapple school. Crabapple School was consolidated with Fredericksburg ISD in May 1957, when only nine students remained.
Crabapple is located in Gillespie County approximately 10.5 miles north of Fredericksburg.
REFERENCE: Martin Donell Kohout, “CRABAPPLE, TX,” Handbook of Texas online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hvcae), accessed January 31, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association. The Friends of Gillespie County Country Schools.
I really like this little two-room school house. The front facade is very different than the typical rural schoolhouse. It looks to me that the person that built it had a good sense of design and proportion. There are even nice wood details around the windows. The building sits forlornly in a fallow field about one hundred yards off Highway 304 about 5 miles south of Bastrop. I’ve visited with the archivist at the Bastrop County Historical Society Museum about Clearview. She was able to tell me that she has a copy of a Teacher’s Daily Register dated 1952 and undated documents referencing Mable Echols as teacher and B. O. Washington as assistant.
The Meusebach School is one of several old school buildings that have been preserved in Gillespie County Texas. The Friends of Gillespie County Schools, have taken on the responsibility of preserving and ensuring that these former schools will be the future parks for the residents of the county.
The first building for the Meusebach Creek School #11 was located near Meusebach Creek on the Fritz Lochte property. The stream supposedly received its name when John O. Meusebach got tangled in the undergrowth and fell backward into the water. It was a square cabin with only 96 square feet of space. The walls consisted of logs filled with mortar and the roof was constructed of shingles. The bare interior contained only a stove, long benches, and the teacher’s desk and chair. Due to the growth of the western part of the district, a new school was built on the Fritz Lochte property in the 1880′s. The stone structure was more spacious and had four windows and a door.
O.W. Striegler continued his career as teacher in the new school. He introduced school closings and “Prüfungen”, or examinations, which consisted of afternoon programs in which the students answered questions and demonstrated progress in writing. At the end of examinations, games were played.
The curriculum included arithmetic, reading, in both German and English, writing, spelling, and geography. Later, a new state law required all subjects, except foreign language, to be taught in English. The school also began receiving state support, which added a “free” two months to the year, meaning that tuition was not paid for these months. Some children could only afford to attend for these months. Students bought their textbooks. Teachers’ salaries at that time averaged $20 per month.
In 1897, trustees decided to erect a new, third structure. Louis Bonn donated one acre for the frame building and this was the first land owned by the school. The building was one and one-half stories high, with the half story being used as an attic for storage.
The Social and Improvement Club was organized in 1917, and is the predecessor of today’s Community Club. It provided new desks, a cistern, a telephone, and many other improvements. In the 1930′s, the district was finally in a financial position to build a modern school. This was the fourth and last building. The new frame building had nine windows and two entrances. It had a large classroom, a library, and a cloakroom.
The Meusebach Creek School was consolidated with the Fredericksburg school district in 1954, after providing education to the community’s children for ninety years. It is worthy to note that Henry, Laura, Minnie, Ovie, and George Washington, whose parents were freed slaves, attended school with the other children at Meusebach in 1869. This was certainly one of the first integrated schools in the South.
Driftwood, seventeen miles northwest of San Marcos in central Hays County, grew up in the 1880s as a supply center for neighboring ranches and farms. Pioneers settled in the area, then known as Liberty Hill, as early as 1850, but most settlers arrived in the early 1880s. The community grew rapidly in that decade, perhaps as a result of its access to the new rail terminals at Kyle and Buda. By 1890 Driftwood had a post office, a school, churches, a cotton gin, and a general store. From a low of ten in 1925, the population grew to nearly 100 during the middle years of the twentieth century, then dwindled to fewer than twenty-five by the 1970s. In 1945 Driftwood became part of the Buda school district. A century after its founding, the community remained a quiet Hill Country crossroads served by a general store and post office. In 1990 the population was twenty-one.
REFERENCES: Daniel P. Greene, “DRIFTWOOD, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnd45), accessed December 09, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Cele was established in the 1890s and was supposedly named for Lucille Custer, daughter of a local store owner. A post office opened there in 1896 with John Pitts Johns as postmaster. When the office was discontinued briefly in 1899, the community’s mail was sent to nearby New Sweden. The Cele post office reopened that same year but was again discontinued in 1902, when mail was routed through Manor.
The Cele Store was first established as the Richland Saloon in 1891. Although there was never much of an actual tow, the building was a combination general store, feed store, saloon and restaurant for the Czech settlers of the Central Texas area.
Marilyn Weiss and the late Marvin Weiss purchased the store in 1951 and ran it continuously for 56 years. In December of 2007, the store closed briefly but was reopened on September 6th 2008 by Brandon Fuchs, grandson of Marilyn and Marvin Weiss. The building has appeared in the several movies – A Perfect World (1999), Secondhand Lions (2003) and the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Cele is two miles west of Farm Road 973 and seven miles north of Manor in northeastern Travis County.
REFERENCE: Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, “CELE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hrc35), accessed December 04, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
There is a part of Marfa’s history that is very different from the current hip, artsy place most people think of when they hear the name. Back in 1911, the Mexican Revolution was underway. Fearing that Mexican troops might attack across the border, the U.S. government sent cavalry troops to Presidio County to protect its citizens. Camp Albert, later changed to Camp Marfa, the post was also home to Signal Corps biplanes that patrolled the Rio Grande during the conflict. Units from Fort Bliss went to Camp Marfa on a rotational basis for field training. The role and size of Camp Marfa grew during World War I to include state, federal and National Guard troops. Following WWI, the War Department used a large donated tract of land near Marfa to train combat troops.
In 1930, Camp Marfa was renamed Fort D. A. Russell in honor of Gen. David Allen Russell, a native New Yorker who served in the Mexican War and died during the Civil War. Only a year later, the government began discussions to abandon the fort and its $480,000 annual payroll. The citizens of Marfa fought hard to keep the fort open, but lost the fight in 1932 and the installation was turned over to caretakers.
However, the closure was short-lived. In 1935 the post was reopened to house 700 men of the Seventy-seventh Field Artillery. The first group scheduled for officer training arrived in 1938 and training continued at the fort for several years. Prior to and during World War II, Fort Russell added 2,400 acres donated by the citizens of Marfa, planted 1,000 trees, improved existing buildings, and built new ones. By this time 1,000 men were stationed at the fort. In 1944 the first woman officer was assigned to the post, and civilian women replaced soldiers as drivers of cars and trucks. During the war a camp for prisoners of war also was established at Marfa. Texas had approximately twice as many POW camps as any other state, first because of the available space, and second, curiously, because of the climate. The Geneva Convention of 1929 requires that prisoners of war be moved to a climate similar to that where they are captured; apparently it was thought that the climate of Texas is similar to that of North Africa.
Fort D. A. Russell was deactivated in 1945. In 1949 most of the fort area and facilities were sold to private citizens. Today, shells of former barracks and other buildings dot the weed-covered grounds. Some buildings have been repurposed to serve as home to the Chinati Foundation and a museum for the artwork of Donald Judd and others.
REFERENCES: Lee Bennett, “FORT D. A. RUSSELL,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qbf14), accessed November 10, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Wharton, the county seat of Wharton County, is on the east bank of the lower Colorado River, forty-five miles from the Gulf of Mexico. It was part of the Caney Run mail route established by the Republic of Texas in 1838. The community was named after two leaders in the struggle for Texas independence, brothers John and William Wharton. The plantation community was first settled in 1846 by some of Stephen F. Austin’s original colonists, and a post office was established in 1847. The first lieutenant governor of Texas, Albert Horton, was an early settler. Land for the courthouse square was donated by William Kincheloe and surveyed by Virgil Stewart and William J. E. Heard. Early settlers came from Alabama, Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia, and Mississippi. Jewish immigrants, arriving as early as the 1850s, established additional businesses and began the Congregation Shearith Israel, the only synagogue in a three-county area. Other settlers in the community included Swiss, German, Mexican, and Czech immigrants and descendants of plantation slaves.
Early crops included potatoes, cotton, corn, rice, and sugar cane, and commercial enterprises included cattle, molasses, and sugar. At different times the community had a cotton oil mill, a sugar cane factory, gristmills, cotton gins, a milk-processing plant and dairy, an ice plant, and numerous other industries. Oil and sulfur production in the outlying areas contribute to the town’s economy. The population of Wharton was about 200 in the early 1880s. The New York, Texas and Mexican Railway was the first railroad to arrive at Wharton in 1881, followed by the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe in 1899. These two railroads brought a new influx of settlers, increasing the population to 1,689 in 1900 and 2,346 in 1920. In 1888 the first opera house opened.
The city was incorporated in 1902, when most of the structures were of wood construction. A major fire that year destroyed a number of buildings, convincing businessmen and the city government to use brick construction with fire walls for all buildings within the city limits and to construct a water system with fire hydrants. On February 21, 1903, the Deaton Grocery Co. (photo above) was organized. A free library was established in 1902 by the New Century Club and adopted by the city in 1904. In 1935 the majority of this library’s inventory was given to the Wharton Public School. The first public park was dedicated in 1913, and the Wharton Chamber of Commerce organized in 1919. The city experienced its greatest growth during the 1930s, increasing from 2,261 in 1930 to 4,386 in 1940. Wharton Little Theatre was organized in 1932, and Wharton County Junior College was established in 1946. The town’s population reached 5,734 in 1960 and 7,881 in 1970
REFERENCE: Ray Spitzenberger, “WHARTON, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hfw01), accessed December 10, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Teague is at the junction of U.S. Highway 84, State Highway 179, and Farm roads 80 and 145, nine miles southwest of Fairfield in western Freestone County. The area was first settled around the time of the Civil War. During the latter half of the nineteenth century a small community known as Brewer, grew up at the site. When the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway was built through the county in 1906, it located its machine and car shops at the site. The town, renamed Teague after Betty Teague, niece of railroad magnate Benjamin Franklin Yoakum, was incorporated in 1906.
Benjamin Franklin Yoakum, railroad executive, was born near Tehuacana, Texas, in Limestone County on August 20, 1859, the son of Narcissa (Teague) and Franklin L. Yoakum. At age twenty he became a rodman and chain bearer in a railroad surveying gang, laying the International-Great Northern Railroad into Palestine, Texas. He later became a land boomer and immigration agent for the Jay Gould Lines. He drilled artesian wells and brought European immigrants from New York to farm the land of the Trans-Mississippi and Rio Grande valley. In 1886 he became traffic manager of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway. In 1887 the town of Yoakum, Texas, was named for him. In 1889 he was promoted to general manager of the railways, and in 1890 he became receiver. For three years he was general manager and third vice president of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe. In 1897 he became general manager of the Frisco (St. Louis and San Francisco Railway Company). Under him the lines grew from 1,200 to 6,000 miles. In 1905 the Frisco and Rock Island lines were joined, and Yoakum was the chairman of the executive committee. This line was known as the Yoakum Line and at the time was the largest railroad system under a single control. His career was one of the most colorful of the many men in railroad history. He knew each branch of work: engineering, traffic, operating, and finance. In his later years he became very interested in the farm problem. He was an advocate of an agricultural cooperative society, growing and marketing farm products to reduce the spread between farm and consumer. It is said that his genius made Hidalgo and Cameron counties into agricultural communities. In 1907 Yoakum moved to New York, where he had a farm in Farmingdale, Long Island. He became president and later chairman of the board of the Empire Board and Mortgage Company.
The community served as a shipping center for area cotton farmers and grew rapidly. By 1914 it had Baptist, Catholic, Disciples of Christ, Methodist, Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal, and Presbyterian churches, as well as public schools, waterworks, an electric light plant, an ice plant, three banks, two cotton gins, a cottonseed oil mill, a cotton compress, the Teague Daily News, two weekly newspapers, and a population of 3,300. Teague continued to prosper during the 1920s.
The onset of the Great Depression and plummeting cotton prices, however, began a slow decline that continued until the 1980s. The number of businesses dropped from 140 in 1931 to 100 in 1936. After World War II many other stores and businesses closed, and by the early 1980s only forty-six rated businesses remained. The town also witnessed a decline in population during the same period; it reached a low of some 2,800 in 1975. After the mid-1980s, however, the population grew steadily, and in 1990 Teague had 3,268 residents. The population was 4,557 in 2000. The area has large coal, lignite, sand, and clay deposits. In recent years natural gas production has become an important industry.
REFERENCE: Christopher Long, “TEAGUE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hgt04), accessed July 28, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; Mary M. Orozco-Vallejo, “YOAKUM, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN,” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fyo01), accessed July 30, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
The Yellow House Ranch, covering 312,175 acres in Lamb, Hockley, Bailey, and Cochran counties, was established in July 1901, when George Washington Littlefield purchased the southern, or Yellow Houses, division of the XIT Ranch for two dollars an acre. In earlier times the Spanish called a nearby yellowish limestone bluff pitted with caves Las Casas Amarillas, the Yellow Houses. From a distance, and especially when there was a mirage, the bluff appeared to be a city. Though little oil was found beneath the ranch itself, one of the first wells in this oil region was drilled in 1912 at South Camp, about six miles northwest of Levelland. In June 1912 Littlefield contracted with the Santa Fe Railroad to build a segment of its main line from Lubbock to Texico, New Mexico, across his land. In August he organized the Littlefield Lands Company to sell the northeastern corner of 79,040 acres for farms and to establish the town of Littlefield in Lamb County. By 1920 only 47,601 acres had been sold. In April 1923, after Littlefield’s death, the remainder of the ranch was sold by White and the Littlefield estate to the Yellow House Land Company and was subdivided for sale as farms.
Built on land that was once part of the Yellow House Ranch, Pettit was named for John Pettit, who established a ranch in the area in 1922. The community developed as other families settled in the vicinity. Joe Bryant started the town’s first store in 1926, and Jim Mason built a gin in 1929. A Pettit post office was established in 1935 with Truett Mauldin as postmaster. Pettit had an independent school district from 1928 to 1964, when it was consolidated with that of Levelland. In 1946 the town’s population was about eighty to ninety, and it had three businesses and twenty homes. The Pentecostal Church of God bought some school buildings in 1958 and established the Great Plains Boys Ranch. In 1976 there was still a gin and a post office at Pettit. In 1980 and 1990 the town reported a population of twenty-six and a post office.
In addition to Pettit, the towns of Pep and Whitharral in Hockley County were established by the company on this acreage. At that time the LFD brand was dropped, but later some 23,000 acres surrounding the old ranch headquarters was returned to cattle grazing. Tragically, Littlefield’s old ranch house was lost in a fire on September 9, 1930. After J. P. White’s death in 1934 his son, George Littlefield White, owned and operated the Yellow House and built a modern brick home at the headquarters near the site of the Yellow Lakes. Here he bred high-grade Herefords and fed out several hundred sheep annually. Pettit is on Farm Road 303 twelve miles north of Levelland in northwestern Hockley County.
REFERENCES: William R. Hunt, “PETTIT, TX (HOCKLEY COUNTY),” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnp23), accessed June 16, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; David B. Gracy II, “YELLOW HOUSE RANCH,” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/apy01), accessed June 16, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Named for Col. C. M. Winkler, famed Texas Confederate soldier, Winkler County was originally settled by Comanche Indians who ruled the area until 1874. Cattle ranching was the economic driver of the county until 1926, when oil was discovered by Roy Westbrook on the Hendrick Ranch. The Hendrick Oilfield transformed Winkler County almost overnight.
By mid-1927 the Wink Townsite Company was selling lots in Horse Wells pasture of the T. G. Hendrick Ranch. The oil boom brought new people to Wink, causing a shortage of housing. Newcomers set up tents and built makeshift houses. Wink was originally named Winkler for the county. When a post office was requested, postal authorities notified the applicant that there was already a Winkler, Texas, post office already in operation. The citizens shortened the name to Wink and received a post office in 1927.
That year the first public school was organized, and a temporary building was constructed. A Sunday school was started by November 1927, and the population of the town was reported at 3,500. By 1929 that number climbed to 6,000. The boom brought lawlessness-bootlegging, prostitution, gambling-to Wink. Even the city government, which was organized on June 4, 1928, came under the control of a well-organized underworld. On October 16, 1928, District Judge Charles Klapproth declared the incorporation election void, and the city government was reorganized. In December of that year the first municipal building was constructed; it was a jail. In 1929 the Texas-New Mexico Railway built its tracks from Wink Junction to Wink, connecting the town to Monahans and to New Mexico and providing a much-needed transportation outlet for the crude being pumped. In the 1930s the boom declined; the population hovered around 4,000, and the number of businesses fluctuated between fifty and 180. It was during this time in the late-20s to early-30s that the Rig Theater (photo above) was built. The building’s façade features highly detailed brickwork in a variety of patterns. Stone parapets with diamond-shaped finials cap the brick walls. A small version of a drilling rig topped the canopy over the building’s entrance. An early manager of the Rig Theater was Joe A. “Pop” DeIorio.
By 1933 the town was legally incorporated. Five hospitals and fifteen doctors served injured oilfield workers, expectant mothers, and epidemic victims. Law and order became the rule. Throughout the 1940s the population continued to decline from 1,945 to 1,521, and the number of businesses decreased from 130 to forty. In December 1947 Winkler County State Bank opened in Wink. Wink entered the 1950s a stable community with a population of just over 1,500. The number of businesses varied in the decade from twenty-five to fifty. In 1958 the railroad from Wink Junction to Wink was abandoned. During the early 1960s the population rose to over 1,800 but dipped to under 1,200 by 1968. The number of businesses jumped between fifty-five and twenty. In July 1960 the federal government approved an application by Wink for more than a million dollars in urban renewal funds to upgrade and rehabilitate 221 acres within the city limits. National attention focused on the small oil town, which used the money for paving and curb and gutter work. The population continued to decline to under 1,200 in the 1970s and 1980s. In the late 1970s the oil economy improved, but the number of businesses slipped to a low of five by the late 1980s. Wink is on Monument Draw, State Highway 115, and Farm Road 1232, seven miles southwest of Kermit in southwestern Winkler County.
REFERENCES: Julia Cauble Smith, “WINK, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlw42), accessed December 15, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Tennessee Colony was founded in 1838 by settlers who came from the Old South by wagons, seeking fertile, watered farm lands. Early families included the Sheltons, Avants, Hanks, and Seaglers. The moist climate and fertile soil was suitable for growing cotton, and a number of cotton plantations prospered. Their cotton was shipped from Magnolia Ferry on the Trinity and created great wealth. Early businesses were a general store, blacksmith shop, cabinet shop (which made furniture still found in area). The town was a trade center for places as far away as Dallas. The plantation era reached a climax in grandeur on the properties of F. S. Jackson, a settler from Virginia. Circuit riders held religious services in homes until a log cabin church could be built, probably in late 1838; a second log church succeeded this one. Masons attended Magnolia Lodge No. 113 near the Trinity River for years, but in 1857 obtained charter for Tyre Lodge No. 198, A.F. & A.M., in Tennessee Colony. They then worked to build a 2-story church-school-lodge hall, which was finished in 1860 (and was to be used until 1948).
In 1851 a log school opened, and Grant Kersky was the teacher. The schools were outstanding, especially those taught by a Mr. Hooker and by Professor Sidney Newsome. They drew patronage from Palestine and other area towns. Remembered students included Addison and Randolph Clark, later to become founders of a college that would be forerunner of Texas Christian University. Descendants of original colonists still live here.
A post office opened in 1852. The community experienced racial tensions in the years before and after the Civil War. In 1860, for example, two white men from Mississippi, named Cable and Wyrick, were accused of plotting a slave uprising. They were suspected of encouraging slaves to poison the town’s water supply and kill most of the white citizens. Cable and Wyrick were quickly tried and hanged. In 1869 a man named Seymour arrived in town to open a black school, but settlers objected to this and forced him to leave.
The first railroad arrived at nearby Palestine in 1872. In 1884 Tennessee Colony had three churches, a school, a steam gristmill, a cotton gin, and a population of 200. The population dropped over the next few decades, as businesses moved to Palestine. In 1914 Tennessee Colony had a population of 100. A few grocers and cotton gins served the area, and it had a telephone connection. During the twentieth century the town functioned as a small agricultural center. Tennessee Colony is off of Farm Road 321 fourteen miles northwest of Palestine in northwestern Anderson County.
REFERENCES: Charles E. Moss, “TENNESSEE COLONY, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlt08), accessed August 01, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; Historical Markers for Tennessee Colony Cemetery and Tyre Masonic Lodge No. 198, Texas Historical Sites Atlas, published by the Texas Historical Commission, accessed August 08, 2013.
Lockhart, county seat of Caldwell County, was named for Byrd Lockhart, who in 1831 received the land that later became the Lockhart townsite as partial payment for his surveying work for the Mexican government. During the 1830s settlement in the area was limited by the threat of Indian raids, but after the battle of Plum Creek in 1840, more settlers began to arrive. By the mid-1840s, several families had made their home near Lockhart Springs, and when Caldwell County was established in 1848, the new town of Lockhart became the county seat. Lockhart was incorporated in 1852 with a mayor-council government. By that time the community was well established: Isabel Stewart began publishing a weekly newspaper in 1849 or 1850. The Lockhart Academy, opened in 1850, was probably the first School in Caldwell County. A Masonic lodge, built in 1850, provided meeting space for both school and church functions.
By 1855 at least five different churches had been organized. An 1858 census of incorporated towns listed Lockhart with 423 residents. In the late 1860s Lockhart became a starting point for the Chisholm Trail, and, as such, developed as a regional trading center in the early 1870s. Beginning in 1874, however, the arrival of the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway in the southern part of the county and the subsequent establishment of Luling cut into business activity at Lockhart for several years. Lockhart continued to grow, but did not recover its dominance of the county economy until after 1887, when the completion of the Lockhart-San Marcos section of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas line increased access to outside markets. By 1890 Lockhart had electricity, a waterworks, streetcars, four schools, seven churches, and a national bank to serve its 1,233 residents. Aiding its economic growth was the establishment of two more rail lines: in 1889 the San Antonio and Aransas Pass connected Lockhart and Shiner (by way of Luling), and in 1892 the Missouri, Kansas and Texas extended its track from Lockhart to Smithville. In the 1890s and early 1900s Lockhart became an important regional center for processing cotton, with a cottonseed oil mill opening in 1893 and a compress in 1901.
The turn of the century also brought the establishment of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library (still extant and said to be the state’s oldest continuously operating city library) and Kreuz’s Market (still selling barbecue in the early 1990s). The census of 1900 showed that the city population had nearly doubled in ten years, rising to 2,306. The discovery of the Luling oilfield in 1920 again put Lockhart in economic second place in the county, but some Lockhart citizens were able to benefit from investments in the field. Though it did not boom as Luling did, Lockhart grew steadily, its population rising from 3,731 in 1920 to 5,018 in the early 1940s.
In 1923, materials salvaged from Ross Institute, a former school for Lockhart’s Caucasian children, were used in 1923 to build the Lockhart Vocational High School (photo above) for African American students. The Rosenwald Foundation of Chicago, which funded many African American schools in the South in the early 20th century, provided the design and part of the construction cost. The school district and local African American citizens raised the majority of the funds for its completion. The two-story brick and stucco schoolhouse contained six classrooms, a principal’s office and a large auditorium that also served as a social center for the neighborhood. Prominent brick and stucco pilasters on the unadorned main facade rise above the parapet. The east and west sides of the building have large banks of windows to maximize natural light. The lower level has a centrally located portico with double doors that divide the principal facade. R.A. Atkinson was the first principal of the school, which received state accreditation in 1926. At the time two years of high school coursework were offered here, and students could attend the twelfth grade in Luling. In 1946, the facility changed its name to G.W. Carver High School. It closed in 1964 due to school integration, but the building was later used by the Head Start program.
During World War II the Lockhart-to-Luling branch of the railroad was abandoned (in 1942) as part of the war effort, but as each city had another rail line, neither was irreparably damaged. The agricultural nature of the county economy was reflected in the major businesses in Lockhart at that time: cotton gins and compresses, a creamery, a poultry-dressing plant, a peanut shelling and processing plant, and livestock marketing and shipping facilities.
During the 1960s the population of Lockhart leveled off at slightly more than 6,000. In the early 1970s, residents became concerned that Lockhart might develop into a bedroom community for commuters to nearby Austin. In 1973, in an effort to avoid such a development, a group of Lockhart residents established the Lockhart Industrial Foundation, the function of which was to attract new businesses to Lockhart. Though in the early 1990s some Lockhart residents were commuting to jobs in Austin, the Foundation was fairly successful in attracting industries to Lockhart. In 1978 the courthouse and several blocks of downtown Lockhart were listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
REFERENCES: Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, “LOCKHART, TX (CALDWELL COUNTY),” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hfl07), accessed August 02, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association. “Lockhart Vocational High School”, Texas Historical Marker #14288, Texas Historical Commission.
Tehuacana has a rich history of education dating to the period just prior to statehood. Several institutes of higher education have called Tehuacana home, including the Tehuacana Academy pictured above. It was a Cumberland Presbyterian college that opened its doors in 1852. Dr. Franklin L. Yoakum (a physician turned teacher who later founded the Texas Academy of Science) and Daniel G, Molloy taught there. The academy was a local enterprise, despite its connections to the Presbyterian Church, and neither Bible courses nor denominational views were taught. Tehuacana Academy, as an institution, did not survive the Civil War.
A post office called Tewockony Springs was established at the current location of Tehuacana in 1847. It was most likely named for the Tawakoni Indians, part of the Wichita group from central Kansas who lived in the area until the late 1840s. When Tehuacana Academy opened in 1852, the community was known as Tehuacana Hills, though the post office continued to be called after the springs. The post office was discontinued during the Civil War, but service resumed in 1869, at which time the name of the office was changed to Tehuacana. That same year, John Boyd persuaded the Cumberland Presbyterian Church to make Tehuacana the site of Trinity University, which had been created by merging three other small Presbyterian schools that had also failed during the Civil War.
By the mid-1880s Tehuacana had three churches, two gristmills and cotton gins, and 500 residents. It was incorporated in 1890 with a mayor-council form of city government. The census of 1900 reported 382 residents in Tehuacana. Trinity University moved to Waxahachie in 1902, and the property was deeded to the Methodist Church, which opened Westminster College, a preparatory school for Methodist ministers, which had its origins in rural Collin County. Westminster College remained in Tehuacana until 1950 when the property was sold to the Congregational Methodist Church, which opened another junior college there, the Westminster Junior College and Bible Institute. It offered an associate of arts degree. The Bible Institute, a department of the college, offered a four-year curriculum leading to the degree of bachelor of religion. In 1968–69 the college had fifteen faculty members and ninety-five students, but by 1970 the student body had decreased to sixty; Elmo McGuire was president. In 1971 thirty-five students and seven teachers of the Westminster Junior College and Bible Institute moved from Tehuacana to a forty-acre campus at Florence, Mississippi, a location called the “geographical center” of the Congregational Methodist Church.
In 1903 the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway completed its track between Cleburne and Mexia, passing through Tehuacana. The population increased to 425 by 1910 and to 615 by the mid-1920s. Tehuacana lost its rail service in 1942, when the track between Hubbard and Mexia was abandoned as part of the war effort. Westminster College became part of Southwestern University in 1942 but was closed in 1950; the campus reopened in 1953 as Westminster Junior College and Bible Institute. The population of Tehuacana fell to 412 in the early 1930s and continued to decline through the early 1980s, reaching a low of 265 in 1982. Moderate growth in the 1980s brought the population to 322 by 1990. In 2000 the population was 307. Tehuacana is at the intersection of State Highway 171 and Farm Road 638, six miles northwest of Mexia in northeastern Limestone County.
REFERENCES: Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, “TEHUACANA, TX (LIMESTONE COUNTY),” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlt04), accessed July 28, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; “WESTMINSTER JUNIOR COLLEGE AND BIBLE INSTITUTE,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/kbw13), accessed July 31, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; David Minor, “WESTMINSTER COLLEGE,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/kbw12), accessed July 28, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
In what is a rarity among Texas counties, the county seat of Lipscomb County (Lipscomb, TX) is the smallest town in the county, is off the main highways, and lacks rail facilities. The stately Classical Revival courthouse, designed and constructed in 1916 by William M. Rice, still stands in its original courthouse square surrounded by a lawn full of trees. It is still the hub for county government in the northeast corner of the Panhandle. Interestingly, the actual northeast corner of the Panhandle border between Texas and Oklahoma, established by law in 1850, remained in dispute for 79 years and was finally settled by the US Supreme Court. Nine surveys were made to locate the corner on the ground and none of them coincided – much to the consternation of landowners in the area. Three blocks were annexed into Texas from Oklahoma in 1903 and again in 1929, prompting a man to claim he went to bed in Oklahoma and woke up in Texas.
Originally its site in Wolf Creek Valley was deemed a cattleman’s paradise. In 1886 J. W. Arthur, anticipating the arrival of the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railway, established a combination store and post office at the site. Arthur named his townsite Lipscomb, after pioneer judge Abner Smith Lipscomb. Frank Biggers, the county’s leading developer, organized the Lipscomb Town Company, which sold land for $3.00 an acre. The next year, Lipscomb was elected county seat after a heated contest with the rival townsites of Dominion and Timms City. John Howlett operated a general store; John N. Theisen took over the Gilbert Hotel after its move from Dominion; H. G. Thayer managed a saddle and harness shop. A school district was established for the community in 1888. The first school, located in a church, had 25 pupils. Liquor flowed freely at the Alamo Saloon until 1908, when the county voted to go dry.
As it turned out, the railroad routed its tracks south of the townsite. Subsequent attempts to get a railroad line to Lipscomb were unsuccessful, as was the attempt of local businessmen to develop a coal mine in 1888, after a five-inch vein was discovered in the area. The present courthouse was built in 1916. The community’s position as the county seat, coupled with the success of W. E. Merydith’s real estate ventures, has enabled the town to survive. By 1910 several churches, a bank, a drugstore, and various other businesses had been established there. Lipscomb has had two newspapers, the Panhandle Interstate and the Lipscomb County Limelight. Only two businesses and the post office remained at the community by 1980. Nevertheless, the importance of the town as a farming and ranching center, along with oil and gas explorations in the vicinity, kept Lipscomb’s economy alive. For most of the twentieth century, its population level has remained fairly stable: population was reported as 200 in 1910, 175 in 1930, 200 in 1940, and 190 in 1980.
Lipscomb is on State Highway 305 in the central part of the county.
1. A History of Lipscomb County, Texas, 1876–1976 (Lipscomb, Texas: Lipscomb County Historical Survey Committee, 1976). F. Stanley [Stanley F. L. Crocchiola], The Lipscomb, Texas, Story(Nazareth, Texas, 1975).
2. H. Allen Anderson, “LIPSCOMB, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hll48), accessed May 15, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Archer City is twenty-five miles southwest of Wichita Falls in the center of Archer County, of which it is the seat. It was named for Branch Tanner Archer, a leading figure in the Texas Revolution and Republic of Texas. The county was established and Archer City designated county seat by the state legislature in 1858, but the county was not organized until after the removal of the Kiowas and Comanches from the area. The townsite was originally surveyed in 1876 and was intended to lie on the projected paths of three railroad lines—the Fort Worth and Denver, the Houston and Texas Central, and the Red River and Rio Grande. A local post office opened in 1878, and in about 1879 C. B. Hutto settled nearby and platted the town; he donated land for a town square, a lot for a county jail, and lots for the construction of Protestant churches. He also donated a “frameless wooden building” to be used as a county courthouse.
Archer County’s first church, the First Baptist Church, was organized in the town in 1880 with eight members meeting in a building intended as a saloon. The town soon after voted to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages, so the building continued to serve as a church; from 1881 to 1886 it was the first school building. In 1884 the estimated population of Archer City was 150, and the principal business was county administration. Cotton was the most important shipped product, although the railroad had not arrived yet.
By 1890 the population was an estimated 250, and a weekly newspaper was being published. The town now had daily mail and a daily stage to Wichita Falls. In 1892 the post office name, Archer, was changed to match the town’s name. An ornate stone courthouse had been built, two more churches had been organized, and a brickyard and a hotel had opened. By 1900 the town had a bank and three livestock dealers, although cotton remained the staple of outside trade. The first oil well in the county, twelve miles from town, began producing in March 1912. Although it never produced great amounts it continued in operation at least into the late 1970s. By 1914 Archer City had two railroads, the Wichita Falls and Southern and the Southwestern, and the population was estimated at 825. Archer City was incorporated in 1925 and continued to grow as more oil wells were opened nearby. By late 1926 there were seventeen fields with 411 wells within thirteen miles of Archer City. The largest field by far was Oldham, with 103 wells. Archer City was also a milling and market point for wheat and other grains and had about seventy businesses, including three banks.
By 1930 the town’s population was 1,512, and the county hospital had been built there. The county’s fiftieth-anniversary celebration had been held in Archer City the year before, a year early in honor of the opening of the county’s first highway, State Highway 79. By the 1930s researchers from Harvard University were collecting fossils in Archer County. Two of the best fossil pits are near Archer City, and from one of these came a fossil that was named Archeria in honor of the county. Archer City continued growing slowly despite the loss of some businesses during World War II. The population peaked at 2,025 in 1970; the number of businesses had begun falling off in the 1960s. In Larry McMurtry’s novel The Last Picture Show (1966), which derives its setting from Archer City, the closing of the Royal Theater is a major symbol. McMurtry is a native of Archer County. In 1986 the town had a post office, forty-nine businesses including a bank, and a population of 1,862. By 2000 the population was 1,848 with eighty-six businesses.
REFERENCES: Monte Lewis, “ARCHER CITY, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hja11), accessed July 21, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Crane, on U.S. Highway 385 and State Highway 329 in eastern Crane County, was named for Baylor University president William C. Crane. It is the seat and only town of the county and has the county’s only post office, which was founded in 1908. The discovery of oil in the county in 1926 led to the county’s organization the next year and to Crane’s development as an oil boomtown. Ollin Columbus Kinnison opened a realty office and platted a townsite, naming the streets for his daughters and sons. Early residents had to put up with board sidewalks, unpaved roads, and limited services-including hauling their own water-until permanent housing and city utilities were built. At one point – water was so scarce that women sent their laundry to El Paso by train. Schools and other amenities were established at Crane as the local oil resources were exploited.
The population reached 1,400 in 1940, which was about the time that Texas’ rural population was outnumbered by its urban population. In Crane’s case, the urban population always outnumbered the rural. By 1980 the town had a library, a swimming pool, and 104 businesses. These included a steel foundry, a concrete plant, a nursing home, and a hospital (that was enlarged in 1962). A special edition of the Crane News in 1972 celebrated the county’s production of one billion barrels of oil. In the 1980s the town was the service center for the region’s flourishing oil industry. Oil continues to be Crane’s main revenue source. Farming has never been big in Crane County and cattle is a distant second source of revenue.
REFERENCE: William R. Hunt, “CRANE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hgc17), accessed July 08, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association and Texas Escapes online magazine..
Murdock McDonald, born in North Carolina, had come to East Texas from Georgia in the 1830s. Jackson Jones (Jack) Davis was born in South Carolina and came to Texas with his wife Elizabeth around 1845. Both men bought property northeast of what is now Palestine and settled with their families. When the International Railroad announced in 1871 that it would build a railroad through East Texas to Palestine, McDonald and Davis were determined that the railroad be located close to their property. After tough negotiations, the two men donated parts of their properties to the railroad on the condition that that the railway be built by December, 1873. While the railroad was being built McDonald and Davis began laying out a townsite.
On December 23, 1872, a post office with the name Nechesville was opened (the community changed its name to Neches in 1892). The McDonald Hotel was built in 1873 and by 1884 the community had a Masonic Lodge, two steam sawmills, a gristmill, two churches, a general store, a drug store (established by T.R. Dunn), two saloons (one of which owned by Murdock McDonald), a school, and an estimated population of 100. The two-story structure in the photo above was the W. J. Foscue General Merchandise building erected in 1890. The ground floor of this building later became the home of Guaranty State Bank with the second floor home to a variety of businesses. When it was established in 1897, J. B. McDonald & Son, located in the middle of the three attached buildings, claimed to carry everything one could need “From the Cradle to the Grave.” Murdoch McDonald also acted as justice of the peace, advertised as a supplier of “meats and justice.” In 1896 a monthly newspaper, the Southern Poultry Journal, was published in the town. Another newspaper, the Neches Tribune, was published in the community before the 1930s. Neches had 261 inhabitants in 1900 and an estimated 400 in the 1920s and 1930s. It was a prosperous community with twenty-four businesses and an estimated 900 inhabitants in 1939. It began to decline in the 1940s.
Throughout its history, Neches was a shipping point for the timber mills and produce-growers in the area. In the 1920s, the East Texas oil boom, particularly the nearby Boggy Creek Woodbine and Neches Woodbine fields, resulted in prosperity for Neches and nearby towns.
Education was a priority for the citizens of Neches. The Stovall Academy had been built three miles south of Neches 1866 by the Rev. Mr. Stovall. It was later disassembled and moved to town and renamed Neches Normal Institute operating as a private school. New school buildings were erected in 1882 and 1913 to serve local students. In 1928 the Neches school, along with schools in Mt. Vernon, Hollywood, and Coperas Grove (now Todd City) consolidated into one school located in Neches.
Neches is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 79 and Farm roads 321 and 2574, on the Union Pacific Railroad nine miles northeast of Palestine and four miles from the Neches River in eastern Anderson County.
Mark Odintz, “NECHES, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hln03), accessed April 07, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Author & date Unknown, http://www.inetwork-plus.com/palestine/neches_tx_history.htm
Author & date Unknown, J.B. McDonald & Son website, http://www.jbmcdonaldandson.com
When I first learned about the school building in Mosheim, there was speculation that it was soon to be torn down. That resulted a hastily-planned road trip to the area and a sigh of relief that the building was still standing. The old school building was probably not the original school in Mosheim, but was likely built in the 1910s or 1920s. Exterior walls were constructed of structural clay tile and brick, then covered with stucco. Floors, walls, and roofs were framed with dimensional lumber. The building’s mission-style design is unique for a country school of that period. It appears that each of the side wings of the building held three classrooms. The center two-story section of the building contained classrooms on both floors. Given the small population of Mosheim, the school undoubtedly served students from nearby farms in addition to those from the town.
Mosheim, formerly Live Oak, is at the junction of Farm roads 217 and 215, 7½ miles west of Valley Mills and twenty-three miles northwest of Waco in southwestern Bosque County. The first settler in the area was probably Jonathan Dansby, who arrived in the mid-1850s from Alabama. Dansby was a Private in the 31st Regiment, Texas Cavalry during the Civil War. In 1855, he married Sarah Ann Farris, who had migrated with her family from Illinois. Jeff Howard built the first store in 1886 and established a post office in it the next year; at this time the town received the name Mosheim from the United States postal authorities.
Bosque County, located in North Central Texas, is farming and ranching country. The county was largely settled by Norwegian immigrants during the 1850s, encouraged by the state of Texas’ offer of 320 acres to each family. Many descendants of these Norwegian settlers still live in the county today. By 1896 Mosheim had an estimated population of fifty, a school, a Methodist church, and several businesses. The number of residents reached a peak of 200 until the late 1960s and then remained stable at seventy-five from the 1970s through 1990.
REFERENCES: Karen Yancy, “MOSHEIM, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnm64), accessed February 15, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association. Kristi Strickland, “BOSQUE COUNTY,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hcb10), accessed February 15, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Originally established in the early 1880s as a cotton and cattle shipping point on the Texas and Pacific Railway, Loraine saw little development in its early years. A post office opened there in 1890, and a school was built in 1893. A hotel, a grocery, and a hardware store reportedly operated at the site before 1905. In that year Parson Crandall bought the townsite land from the railroad and platted the town.
Growth was rapid after the town was platted. A weekly newspaper began publication there in 1906, and the community was incorporated by 1910. In 1914, when its population was an estimated 800, Loraine supported more than forty retail and service businesses, including a bank, a commercial club, and an electric utility company. During the 1920s Loraine had an aldermanic form of government, operated its own public water system, and provided both high school and grade school facilities to local students. In the 1930s cotton ginning grew in importance, and the town was recognized as a shipping, marketing, and ginning center.
Population estimates for Loraine ranged between 700 and 750 during this period. A hospital was opened at the community in 1938. During the 1940s the town was known for its cheese factory, for its annual dairy show, and as the headquarters for the Loraine Cooperative Association, which handled the milk supply for several surrounding counties. The number of businesses at Loraine varied from an estimated high of fifty-five in 1940 to a low of thirty-four in 1947. Population estimates remained at around 700 in the 1940s but rose to more than 1,000 during the 1950s, though the number of businesses began a steady decline.
Loraine is on U.S. Highway 20/80, Farm Road 644, and the Missouri Pacific line, ten miles east of Colorado City and fifty-eight miles west of Abilene in northeastern Mitchell County. Three conflicting stories concerning the town’s name exist: the first says that Loraine was named for a railroad official’s wife, the second that the community was named for the daughter or wife (possibly Loraine Crandall) of a local landowner, and the third that the town was named for the French region of Lorraine.
REFERENCE: Patricia L. Duncan, “LORAINE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hll60), accessed July 08, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Blessing is west of the junction of State Highway 35 and Farm Road 616 and twenty miles west of Bay City in northwestern Matagorda County. The town was promoted by Jonathan Edwards Pierce, on whose land it was established. In 1903, when Pierce gave the right-of-way to the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway, the future of the unnamed settlement seemed assured. A grateful Pierce hoped to designate the place “Thank God,” but the United States Postal Department rejected his proposal. As a compromise, the place was named Blessing, and a post office opened in 1903, with James H. Logan as first postmaster. Between 1903 and 1905 a library building was attached to the train station. In 1905 the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway also built through Blessing. D. A. Wheeler’s hotel soon followed.
On September 1, 1907, residents platted the townsite, and the townsite company made provisions for school and church sites. In 1909 P. Ansley established a local newspaper. B y 1914 Blessing had 500 inhabitants, two churches, a bank, a hotel, a telephone connection, and a weekly newspaper, the Blessing News. In 1925 Blessing’s population was still recorded at 500. In 1931 the town had a population of 450 and twenty-two businesses. During the 1937–38 school year, nine teachers instructed 251 white students in eleven grades, and two teachers instructed thirty-eight black students in seven grades. By 1949 the Blessing district had been consolidated with the Tidehaven Independent School District. In 1945 Blessing’s population had risen to 600, served by thirteen businesses. Though in 1966 the population was reported as 1,250; in 1968 it had dropped to 405. In 1990 the town had 571 residents and twelve businesses.
REFERENCE: Stephen L. Hardin, “BLESSING, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlb36), accessed December 10, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association
Willow City is on Willow Creek 11½ miles northeast of Fredericksburg in northeastern Gillespie County. The earliest recorded settler before the Civil War was a slaveholding Baptist preacher reported to harbor a strong dislike for the neighboring Germans. Sometime after the war a group of settlers-including ranchers Andrew Moore, Jim Renick, William Luckenbach, Bill Hardin, and Pierce Smith, storekeeper Gene Harrison, and miller Bill Ricks-came to Willow Creek and founded one of the few Gillespie County communities settled by English-speakers rather than Germans. These early settlers traded mostly in Austin because they preferred dealing with other Anglo-Americans rather than with the Germans in nearby Fredericksburg. The town prospered and gained an early reputation as a criminal hangout. The post office opened in 1877 and was named Willow until 1887, when it changed to Willow City. The town had two teachers as early as 1881; one was John Warren Hunter, who once had to wrestle a six-gun away from an angry student. In 1885 a Methodist congregation was organized, although a church was not built until 1900, under Rev. T. J. Lassater. From 1892 to 1894 Green Hardin Harrison published the Gillespie County News; later he sold the newspaper to Webster McGinnis, who moved it to Fredericksburg. Willow City received telephone service in 1893. In 1904 the population was estimated at 132, and by 1915 Willow City had three general stores, a drugstore, two blacksmiths, and a cotton gin. The population declined during the first half of the twentieth century, to 100 in 1925 and to forty in 1939.
The Willow City School District #804 was in the northeastern part of Gillespie County, with its northern border extending to the Llano County line. The first school was a one room log cabin, which also served as a church. R.C. Roberts, who came to the community in 1876, described the schoolhouse as “a one-room log cabin, no longer new”. It had split log benches and no floor. After severe flooding, a two-story frame schoolhouse was constructed in 1890 on higher ground. This building had two classrooms downstairs and one large classroom upstairs, with an outside stairway. A bell tower summoned the students to class. It was early in 1905, when the Willow City District became independent, that it was decided to build a new school. J.W. Lindeman and J. C. Hardin each donated a plot of ground, and after a bond issue, the new, two-story granite school building became a reality. It had school rooms on the first floor and one room on the second. The second floor served as an auditorium and classroom, during the years when there were three teachers. Improvements were made to the building in 1915, in order to obtain state aid. Ventilators were added. A partition was built on the first floor to create an entrance hallway, and blackboard space was added. The school had no water supply until 1920, when a well was drilled. Until that time, students brought their own water from home or a resident living close to school supplied water. In the 1950′s, restrooms were added to the north side of the building. With three teachers, one for each room, grades one to nine were taught through 1956. Then in 1957 with two teachers, grades one to eight were taught. The 9th graders went to Fredericksburg for high school. Willow City Independent School District was consolidated with Fredericksburg ISD in 1961.
REFERENCES: Martin Donell Kohout, “WILLOW CITY, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnw51), accessed January 23, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; The Friends of Gillespie County Schools.
When Luckenbach, Texas is mentioned, what comes to most peoples’ minds is Waylon Jennings’ song “Back to the Basics of Love” – with its famous lyrics “Let’s go to Luckenbach Texas, with Waylon, Willie and the boys…”. But long before the town was made famous in song and became a hangout for country music fans, Luckenbach was a community settled by German farmers – among them brothers Jacob Luckenbach and August Luckenbach.
The first post office opened in 1854 under the name of South Grape Creek. Mrs. Albert Luckenbach, nee Minnie Engel, established a store and saloon. A dance hall, a cotton gin, and a blacksmith shop were in existence by the late 1800s. A number of family cemeteries and a Catholic cemetery were also established. The growing population supported a primary school and a Methodist church. Residents in addition to Methodists included in roughly equal numbers Lutherans and Catholics. One local schoolmaster, Jacob F. Brodbeck, designed and tested an airplane in this community, but a major demonstration flight in 1865 terminated in a crash. Sometime in the later 1800s the post office closed. When it reopened in 1886, August Engel served as postmaster and renamed the town Luckenbach. William Engel became the next postmaster and opened the general store, which remains today in its original building. In 1896 the population was 150. It increased to a high of 492 in 1904 but declined dramatically in the first half of the twentieth century. From the 1920s to the 1950s Luckenbach had a population of twenty.
On July 22, 1855, two acres of land along Grape Creek was purchased from Peter Pehl for $4. After the land was acquired, the men in the community gathered to build a 16′X15′ log cabin schoolhouse. During the 1860′s, a one-room stone teacherage was built. The floors were made of 16″ wide planks from Indianola, and the rafters were hand-hewn. Another room was later added to join the teacher’s house to the school. Another room was later added to join the teacher’s house to the school. Due to an increase in the student population by 1881, the building became too small to accommodate all the children, so a 10′ addition of native limestone was built. The Luckenbach School was designated as District #3. Families who settled in the community paid one dollar per year for their children to attend school. Many of these families are still represented in the area today.
An old-fashioned school bell summoned the children to class, with the boys lining up on the left and the girls on the right. Older students would help the younger ones with grammar and math. Some of the creative games played during recess were Andy-over, stink base, dodge ball, drop the hankie, and kick the can. At 4:00 pm, at the end of the day, the older boys had to bring in firewood for the stove, and the girls had to sweep the floor. First graders were responsible for cleaning the erasers.
In 1949, due to the passage of the Gilmer-Aiken Law, which limited the number of students per teacher, Luckenbach became a two-teacher school, with grades one through eight. During that year, another room, measuring 18′X24′, and constructed of hollow tile, was added to the school building. In 1964, the Luckenbach School District was consolidated with the Fredericksburg School District.
REFERENCES: Glen E. Lich and Brandy Schnautz, “LUCKENBACH, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnl48), accessed January 21, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; The Friends of Gillespie County Schools;
Camp San Saba is on Farm Road 1955 and the San Saba River ten miles southeast of Brady in southeastern McCulloch County. The settlers, who in the early 1860s built the community known as Camp San Saba, were not the first to occupy the region. John O. Meusebach met with a council of Comanches in 1847 near the present townsite. A group of Texas Rangers under the command of Captain W. G. O’Brien was stationed in the area in the 1860s to protect settlers from Indian attacks. O’Brien’s Company of mounted volunteers became the Forty-sixth Texas Cavalry in the Confederate Army.
The community supposedly took its name from this ranger camp. Confederate troops protected the settlers during the Civil War. Camp San Saba was the principal settlement in McCulloch County until Brady became the county seat in 1876. A post office opened in Camp San Saba in 1876. In 1884 the community had three churches, a district school, three stores, and a population of 250. Area residents shipped wool and livestock. When the coming of the railroad increased Brady’s importance as a shipping point in 1904, Camp San Saba began a steady decline. The post office was discontinued after the 1930s.
Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, “CAMP SAN SABA, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hrc13), accessed December 10, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.