San Fernando Academy

Pontotoc, like many other mid-Nineteenth Century Texas towns, aspired to greatness.   And like many similar towns, events conspired to prevent it from reaching its goal.  Located in Central Texas at what was the junction of roads from Llano and San Saba, the community of Pontotoc came to be somewhere between the mid-1850s and mid-1870s.  The town was named by M. Robert Kidd, proprietor of the first general store, for his home – Pontotoc, Mississippi.  By 1882, the San Fernando Academy had been established and provided impetus to the town’s growth.  This school, parts of which still lay in ruins, at one time had 200 students.  The Academy closed in 1890 and was later sold to the Pontotoc school district, which operated it until 1027.

Pontotoc’s economic basis was cotton, wool, cattle, and pecans.  In its heyday, the town had four stores, other businesses, a blacksmith, saddleries,  a newspaper, and two doctors.  Residents tried, in 1890, to create a new county, Mineral County, out of parts of  four adjacent counties with the intent of having Pontotoc as the county seat.  Citizens of Mason County petitioned the state to deny the Pontotoc application and it was defeated.

A typhoid fever epidemic nearly wiped out the town in 1887 – filling its cemetery.  Ultimately, the closing of San Fernando Academy and railroads bypassing the town spawned its decline.  Pontotoc has a brief resurgence between 1920 and 1940 caused in great part by a nearby mica mine.  A fire destroyed many of the town’s buildings in 1947 and Pontotoc never rebounded.

For more information on Pontotoc visit the Handbook of Texas Online and TexasEscapes.com.  More images of Pontotoc can be found here.