Colorado County Sesquicentennial
Commemorative Book

Transcribed for Colorado County TXGenWeb Project by John Konesheck 

As time travels on we will remember!

The unique history of this area carries with it the lessons of living, that we wish to give to our youth, through this book and a memorable and significant celebration of 150 years of independence for Texas.

To all who have contributed to our history and the making of this book goes our heartfelt thanks and respect.

The 1986 Sesquicentennial Committee.

 

Those contributing to the book:

Mrs. Doris Albright
Mr. Benjamin Chovanec
Mrs. Mozelle Dayvault
Mr. William H. Harrison, Sr.
Mr. James Hopkins, Photography
Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Hopkins
Mrs. Georgia C. Hrachovy
Mrs. Doris Leyendecker
Mrs. Mabel Ruth Scott
Miss Mildred Schultz
Mr. Theo Schultz
Mrs. Randa Simmons
Mr. Butch Strunk

Doreen Vail, 802 Front, Columbus, Texas, designed the Sesquicentennial Logo and won the county-wide contest.

Printed by Hengst Printing & Supplies, LaGrangeTexas.

 

Brief History of Alleyton, Texas

Some find it hard to believe that Alleyton, a mere village of some 250 people was once the largest town in Colorado County. The brothers who had a hand in settling Alleyton were the Alley brothers, Rawson, Thomas, John Abram and William who came to Texas in 1822 to join Stephen F. Austin's colony and settle near where Alleyton is now. The brothers received thousands of acres of land from the Mexican government for settling in Texas and Rawson was paid in land for his services as surveyor. (Much of the county was laid off from his field notes.)

William, the actual founder, entered into an agreement in 1859 with the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railroad in which he gave the road right-of-way over his land, and in addition, set aside 200 acres to be laid out in lots and blocks for a town site. He retained a block on which his house was located (the present site of the Gene Evans home) and the railroad took what was necessary to build its shops, depot and roundhouse. The rest was sold at public auction and the money divided equally between William and the railroad.

In 1860, Alleyton became the terminal of the first railroad in Texas, the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos, and Colorado Railroad. The route ran first from Harrisburg to Stafford's point and extended to Alleyton in 1860. All freight going west was set off at Alleyton and taken from there by mule trains. Cotton, hides and other goods ere hauled to Alleyton and shipped east by train. During the Civil War, there was a route known as the "Cotton Road". Cotton was just about the only thing the Confederacy had that anybody would pay for. Europe would exchange their clothes, guns, bullets and other warfare equipment for cotton. Since there was no bridge across the Colorado River, cotton was ferried across to Columbus, then loaded on huge wagons and Mexican carts and pulled by oxen, mules or horses to Brownsville. From there is was shipped to Europe. Cotton Road was actually marked by tufts of white cotton, the road going past Goliad, through the King Ranch and on to Mexico. Alleyton was one to the largest cotton markets in the world. It boomed in the 1860's, but declined in importance as the railroad extended west.

Some prosperous businessmen of the 1860's were merchant Leander C. Cunningham, father of Mrs. Ben Baker, whose husband started the Colorado County Citizen, Texas Hotel operator J. J. Holt and grocer Charles A. Dittman, ancestor of Anna Mae Harrison Schulenburg, William Henry and Dittman W. Harrison. Abram Alley was an ancestor of the Everett Sisters and Laura Ann Dick Rau.

A few residents of the early 1900's were Dr. Robt. H. Harrison, father of Anna Mae Harrison Schulenburg and William H. Harrison; J. J. Everett, father of Laura Brasher, Margaret Everett Griffith and the late Hattie Mae Everett Dick, depot agent La Tulle and the Bolden family.

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Altair

Altair, in south central Colorado County, developed as a community in the late 1880's. Located on the R. E. and John Stafford ranch property, the cattle loading station was called Stafford's Ranch. The first post office at Stafford's Ranch was established October 4, 1888 with John Stafford as postmaster. But on September 19, 1890, the post office name was changed to Altair with John S. West as postmaster. Shortly thereafter, the town site was surveyed with blocks and streets laid out. The streets from east to west were: Hogg, East, Bowie, Center, Washington, West, Clay, Calhoun, Webster, Tait, and Harris Streets. The streets from north to couth were: Prairie, North, Challenge, Columbus, and Main Streets.

While Altair was known as Stafford's Ranch, there was a population of 25, a depot, and Tait & Howland added a general store to their saloon, and G. A. Herbert opened a general store. By 1897, Altair, situated ten miles south of Columbus on the S. A. & A. P. R‚y, had a population of over 100, with two stores, gin, lumberyard, blacksmith shop, and hotel, with all doing a good business. Also in 1897, a new school building 25 by 50 feet was built by architect and contractor, L. D. Secrest, and Seymour & Townsend had a telephone line from Columbus to Altair.

In 1898, W. C. Munn, an enterprising merchant of Weimar, erected a store building 40 by 90 feet, with the addition of warehouses and storerooms. He dealt in everything from a hair pin to a Corliss engine. He later, for a number of years, had one of the larger department stores in Houston.

Altair today has a population of 80 inhabitants, but is an important business center with rice dryers, tourist courts, and eating places.

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Bernardo

In or about 1845 or 1846, several groups of settlers made their ways to the south banks of the San Bernard River in Colorado County. A settlement, consisting mostly of German immigrants, was located about ten miles west of Cat Spring. Some of these early settlers had come to Texas through the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas (Verein Zum Schutze Deutscher Einwanderer in Texas), but decided to remain in this section of the state where other German families had established themselves, and where frontier conditions were not as hard as where the Society was going to place them. Although most of these early German immigrants were highly educated people, their knowledge of agriculture was very little. They came here hoping to improve themselves and their families socially, politically and economically.

The settlement was first known as Bernardo Prairie for its location on the prairieland of the San Bernard River. It was also referred to as the "Braden Settlement" in some early records, after some of the early settlers there. However, in later years it was shortened to Bernardo. This settlement was on the main road from Houston to other towns and settlements further inland. Many wagons drawn by oxen and later mules passed through here hauling merchandise and lumber to these settlements and returning with produce and cotton from the farms.

An interesting description of the San Bernard River by one early writer is that the river was "noted chiefly for an abundance of water when it was not needed, and none at all when it was".

The various early German settlements were little more that loose collections of farms, with large unpopulated areas between them. Most of these early homes were described as "dog run" houses, and there were neither schools nor churches until some were built in later years. An 1860 census lists about twenty farmers with German names in San Bernard, and many descendants of these early settlers can still be found in the community today.

Bernardo had its own Post Office from 1875 until 1917, when it was discontinued and combined with Cat Spring. Through the years at one time or another Bernardo also had a school, general stores, doctor's office, dance hall, blacksmith shop, cotton gin, garage, a millinery shop, and perhaps others.

Agriculture and farming being the main-stay of the community has now largely given way to cattle raising.

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Borden

Borden, nine miles west of Columbus, is situated on the south fork of Harvey's Creek. The little village was so-called after Gail Borden, the man who, by the invention of canned milk, then became the nursing mother to half the babies of the nation. Borden was originally called Bordenville by Gail Borden, who built homes for himself, his sons, and his brother (John P. Borden) on the nearby hills of Harvey's Creek. The location was said to be delightful, by an artist who had come out from time to time to sketch the scenery, and was selected by Gail Borden as the site for his beef works. At these works, beef was slaughtered and worked into extract of beef, roast beef and beef-hash, slaughtered for that purpose twenty five head of cattle per day, under the name of the Borden Meat Preserving Company.

Gail Borden invested $125, 000 in these works, which, after his death, had been, for a considerable time, carried on by his son. But because of the exorbitant charges made by the Railway Company for freight, the works were discontinued. This commendable industry was only in its infancy when the railroad people brought it to a close by the introduction of its tariff. It was presumed that the railway company realized more from the shipment of livestock over its road than could have been made from transporting the extract.

On January 19, 1874, the U. S. Post Office was established with John P. Borden the first postmaster. He, at one time, had been the first Land Commissioner for the State of Texas. The following postmasters were: September 15, 1884, Sterling Price Pincham; December 13, 1889, Henry C. Sigler; April 10, 1893, P. J. Shaver; May 15, 1893, James M. Campbell; January 26, 1901, P. J. Shaver; and on July 15, 1905, the mail went to Weimar.

The town site of Borden was platted and laid out into blocks and lots on both the north and south side of the railroad being equally divided. The streets from east to west were: First, Second, Main, Fourth and Fifth Streets. And the streets going from north to south were: Live Oak, Mulberry, Cedar, Magnolia, Walnut, Chestnut, and Summit Streets. At one time, Borden had, besides the factory, a school, also a freedmans school, depot, slaughter house and pen, hotel, cemetery, a gin, and several stores. All that remains today is a place name, cemetery, and historical marker.

 

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Buescher

An article in the Weimar Mercury of August 12, 1899 states: "Buescher's people don't care if the river bridge be rebuilt or not. We have a good dry goods store, a grocery store, drug store, barber shop, blacksmith shop, cotton gin and mill, and a dance hall. All we need is a national bank and post office." So you can see that there was quite a little village at Buescher before the turn of the century. Also, the railroad, from Alleyton and Smith Point to La Grange, came through Buescher and had a flag stop there. This railroad was later changed from Glidden through Shaw's Bend to La Grange thus bypassing Buescher.

The history of the small community of Buescher dates way back into the 1800's. From 1876 through 1880, Henry Buescher was the elected constable of Buescher. This shows that there was a community called Buescher at that time.

On May 17, 1890, A. R. Carter was appointed Democratic Precinct Chairman for Buescher, Precinct No. 12. Again, on March 10, 1894, Henry A. Buescher was Election Official for Precinct No. 12, at Buescher's store. By February 11, 1905, Buescher was then in voting Precinct No. 8 with 23 paid poll taxes. Election days were big days in the community, and John Schobel, Frank Braden and Ed Rau were usually the election workers.

The first grocery store and saloon was owned by Henry Buescher, Sr., and in 1891, E. F. Buescher also owned a saloon and grocery store. Frank Ordner was the owner of the cotton gin which was located a short distance back of his house. After his death, his widow, Mrs. Elisa Maria Fredricka Heyne Ordner, owned and operated the Ordner Gin which was later moved to Columbus.

The first school was located just west on the corner at the entry of Sawmill Road. Some of the teachers at Buescher were: Frankie Dick Grunewald, Annie McCane, Lula Burttschell, Lela O. Dibrell, Earline Buescher Landig, Cora Shaw Fitzgerald Rudicil, Cora Hastings Arceneaux, W. C. Papenberg, Lester Rogers, and Dora Thomas.

An interesting thing happened at the school, Eddie Rau was leaning over the open well when he was pushed in by Henry Buescher. His head struck the well bucket which cut a half moon upon his head. This scar remained for the rest of his life. He always credited Aunt Charlotte McDow for saving his life. She was a popular mid-wife in the community which delivered most of the babies.The Buescher school was consolidated with Columbus and the children were brought into the Columbus school in 1924.

Some of the early families of Buescher were: Ordner, Braden, Schobel, Wearden, Miller, Rau, Duerr, Mahalitc, Buescher, Carter, Harris, Dillard, and Alley.

Today all evidence that there was a village of Buescher is missing with the exception of fond memories of all who passed that way.

Stories About Ax Handle Junction Saloon, Buescher, Texas

The saloon and store was run by a Mr. Henry Buescher, a giant of a man in stature and one who enforced the rules with the use of an ax handle, of which he was most proficient, thereby creating the name "Ax Handle Saloon and Store". The first story as told to me by Arthur Leyendecker, my Father, 1886-1980 was:

While attending school at Zimmerscheidt in the 1890's, a Mr. Schweke from New Ulm, who hauled freight from Columbus to New Ulm, stopped his wagon and team at the school. It being lunch time and the children were all outside, Mr. Schweke asked the children if they wanted to see a man that was sure to die. On the back of the wagon laid a Mr. Zeiner, from New Ulm, who had received the attitude adjustment of Mr. Buescher's ax handle; his head being laid open in numerous places and the wounds seemed to be wide enough for the side of a man's hand to be placed in them. However, Mr. Schweke was wrong, for after months of recuperation, the man that was sure to die was up and about.

The second story was told to me by Lester Hastedt, 1897 -. It seems that a group of young men from Columbus were drinking and enjoying themselves at Mr. Buescher's saloon. As they drank their courage grew. There seemed to be discriminating remarks about the German people. First, the young men repeatedly said "damn the Dutch", a slang name that Anglos called people of German extraction. As they got braver, they called Mr. Buescher a damned Dutchman. This was all it took to bring out the ax handle. He proceeded to whip the five or six young men so thoroughly that one had to be sent to a Houston hospital with a fractured skull. This man also recovered but from that day of the fight, he never drank any alcohol again. Two names of the young men were Byars and Thomas.

Mr. Hastedt's uncle, Fritz Hastedt, worked at the La Grange Tap R. R. which stopped and took on water at Ax Handle Junction. Another man working for the La Grange Tap was Batist Leyendecker. Albert and Arthur Leyendecker, Joe Swoboda and other members of the baseball team at Zimmerscheidt would walk or ride their horses to the Ax Handle Saloon. They played ball there and other places. When going to Ellinger, the team got on hand cars at Buescher, hand carred to Ellinger and back and then would walk or ride home.

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Calhoun

Calhoun, a small town on the Santa Fe between Garwood and Eagle Lake, in 1912, had a depot and post office built there at that time. The postmasters were as follows:

Allen S. England August 31, 1912
Arno L. Wahrmund August 1, 1914
Isaac L. Terrell November 18, 1915
Waldo R. Terrell February 20, 1920

Mail to Eagle Lake September 15, 1921

By 1914, Calhoun had the following businesses in addition to Express, Wells, Fargo & Company, and telephone connection to Eagle Lake, a distance of five miles:

CALHOUN MERCANTILE COMPANY
Allen S. England, Mgr. General Store
J. V. Allison, General Store

Calhoun had a rural school in the same district with Matthews and Eldridge.

By 1919, the business houses in Calhoun were:

Calhoun Mercantile General Store
George W. Thomas General Store

The country surrounding that place was as pretty as could be found anywhere, and some of the best potato land in Texas. Since the growing of potatoes in Texas became unprofitable, Calhoun today is just a memory.

 

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Cheetham

Some time after 1885, the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad, called the S.A.A.P., came through this area. A post office was opened at a community called Cheetham, 1 mile east of present Sheridan, in 1888 with John A. Cheetham as postmaster. On July 9, 1890, the post office was discontinued and the postal service was moved to Sublime. Then on August 2, 1893, the post office was re-established with John T. Warner as postmaster until August 14, 1901, when Lea A. Scott became postmaster. On September 10, 1908, the post office was moved to Sheridan. Then on June 17, 1912, the Sheridan post office was moved to Cheetham with John Scott postmaster. On May 21, 1915, Lea Anna Scott was again postmaster until the Cheetham post office was finally discontinued on April 28, 1920.

In 1896, William Dunovant of Eagle Lake, who later planted the first rice in the county and established the sugar industry here, had the town of Cheetham platted and recorded in the deed records of Colorado County. Lots were sold and quite a nice little village was established.

The main occupation at Cheetham was the cutting and sale of cord wood. In 1891, Mr. Warren Griffith had got his wood splitting machine under full headway and was giving work to five hands. Mrs. Varner taught the Cheetham school in 1892. We do not know who the teacher was prior to that time. Mr. J. T. Warner built the first store, which had a full stock of everything, and also a nice lumber yard.

In December, 1897, Mr. J. W. Gardner bought the store-house of Wm. Weller and added a large stock of dry goods and groceries. Cheetham had Baptist, Methodist, and Episcopal churches which met and held services in the school house. Some times after church services were over, they would then have a dance.

Cheetham, in 1914, had a population of 75 inhabitants. They also had a post office, cemetery, W. L. Mayes general store, J. W. Scott post cards and stationery, and W. T. Scott saloon.

By 1918, Cheetham began to decline with a population of 50, which was mainly due to the continued growth of Sheridan one mile to the west. The business houses were: J. D. Hopkins, general store; and W. T. Scott, a beer saloon. All that remains today is the Cheetham Cemetery and a memory. This makes one more Colorado County ghost town.

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Chesterville

Chesterville had its beginning with the coming of one John Linderholm, a land promoter from Chicago, in 1894. He had purchased between the years of 1894-1909 for colonization, 60,000 acres of land, located 50 miles west of Houston in Wharton and Colorado Counties.

The Southern Texas Colonization Company was formed with Mr. Linderholm as president and his son, Oscar, secretary. Other officers, both of Eagle Lake were B. L. Vineyard, vice-president, and A. W. Waugh treasurer. Working in co-operation with the railroads, land promotion was begun.

The town of Chester, as staked out by William P. Chester, was traversed a little north of center by the railroad with parallel streets first through eighth. The intersecting streets, except Main, were given names of States seeming to reflect the states from which the families came. From east to west they were: Ohio, Minnesota, Main, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and West Streets. The portion north of the track was never developed.

But it was not to be Chester after all, for when the Post Office was officially established July 31, 1895, Texas was found to have a Chester already and so it became Chesterville. The postmasters were as follows:

Alvina Chester July 31, 1895
Frank Wilson November 23, 1899
William T. Chester January 31, 1900
Leonidas E. Bodle November 28, 1902
Charles P. Salladay September 16, 1904
Russell A. Salladay November 15, 1933
Thomas B. Tubbs November 9, 1935
Billie D. Jordan October 27, 1941
Mrs. Trudella Wills August 1, 1947

The post office discontinued on November 30, 1950, then the mail came from Lissie. Since 1952 the area residents have been served by a rural route originating in East Bernard.

In the past, Chesterville has had the following: a depot, school, church, rice warehouse, livery barn, blacksmith shop, newspaper, bank, barber shop, meat market, hotel, telephone office, saloon, lumberyard & hardware, dance hall and several general stores.

Some of the early settlers of the area were: The Adams, Adkins, Andersons, Andrews, Backhus, Beals, Bodles, Bottinos, Chesters, Carnes, Cutlers, Clarks, Fulfords, Grays, Haworths, Haydens, Hoadleys, Davidsons, and many more.

Chesterville, the town that was, is no more, but remains an important rice center in the county with the rice dryers and allied business owned and operated by members of the B. D. Anderson family.

 

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Columbus

About Christmas, 1821, Robert and Joseph Kuykendall and Daniel Gilleland planted the first settlement on the Colorado near the present site of Columbus.

In August of 1823, Stephen F. Austin proceeded to lay off a town on the Colorado here at the present site of Columbus, the oldest surveyed and platted Angle-American town in Texas, for the projected capitol of his colony located eight miles above the Atascosito Crossing. But after surveying the lots, due to Indian depredations, he concluded to change the location to the Brazos. >From this beginning, this town continued, first being known as Beason's, having the following known businesses before the Texas Revolution:

Benjamin Beason - Operated a ferry, had a gin, grist mill and saw mill

His wife Mrs. Elizabeth Beason - Kept a sort of inn or boarding house to accommodate travelers

William Demetris Lacy - One of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence, established a tan yard and saddle shop on January 26, 1836, as a merchant, sold supplies to the government - 12 saddles @ $14.00 each

James Nelson - Tanner and currier

Caleb R. Bostick - Carpenter

Rawson Alley - Carpenter and joiner

James McNair - Clothier

William B. Dewees - Gun smith and blacksmith

James Cook - Postmaster

Milton Cook - Tavern

John McCrosky - Tanner and currier

John Frazier - Schoolmaster

On December 30, 1835, fifty-five citizens of the Colorado, petitioned the Provisional Governor of Texas for a new municipality to be called "Colorado", the seat of Justice for the new municipality to be called Columbus. This was the first time the town was called Columbus.

In March 1936, when Sam Houston and the Texas Army retreated from the Colorado toward San Jacinto, Houston ordered the village of Columbus burned to keep it out of the hands of the Mexican army. After the victory at San Jacinto, the people of Columbus returned, arriving in early May. According to W. B. Dewees, upon their arrival, all here was gloom and desolation, their homes were in ashes, the cattle had been driven off, all was in stillness.

After being sure that all the Mexicans had left the country, the task of rebuilding the community was begun. The government of the Republic of Texas was organized, and soon the Colorado County government was organized as one of the original counties of Texas with Columbus as the county seat.

In 1837, W. B. Dewees and J. W. E. Wallace replatted and resurveyed the town. They advertised in the Telegraph and Texas Register town lots for sale in the town of Columbus, the seat of Justice of Colorado County, on the high and beautiful bluff on the west bank of the Colorado river community, formerly known as Dewee's Shoals of Ford. (This was another name for Columbus.) The advertisement also stated that sixteen buildings were erected with fourteen more contracted for, and that an academy was in successful operation with 34 pupils.

The developers evidently sold the lots because the town grew; stores and homes were built. They donated a town block "Seminary Square" for a school and a block for a courthouse. We all should be grateful for their starting Columbus on the way to being the town it is today.

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Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake has a history that stretches back to the time when the vast prairies were covered by tall grasses and wild flowers and wild life in abundance. Deer were plentiful, as were mustangs, buffalo, panthers, wolves, wildcats, and bears. Eagles nested here, and legends still survive about them.

Eagle Lake is located in the original Austin's Land Grand approved April 23, 1823. It is said that two of Austin's men, Little and Beard, camped on the shore of the lake, killed an eagle, and thereafter referred to the spot as Eagle Lake.

A romantic legend of the lake credits the name of the lake to the Karankawa Indians. A young maiden, Prairie Flower, had two suitors, Leap High and Light Foot. She proposed they climb a tall cottonwood tree on the lake's shores and bring down a young eaglet from the nest. The victorious one would be her mate. Light Foot was victorious and Leap High sulked away to the Colorado River.

Gamaliel Good and his wife were the first known settlers in this community in 1851. By 1855, he had built a story and a half cabin near the lake. Cedar logs were hauled by oxen-pulled wagons from Indianola. He owned a stage coach, which was driven by his son, James B. Good, from Houston to San Antonio, the headquarters being the Good home.

In 1856, Gamaliel Good purchased 2300 acres out of the Patrick Reels lands, and with D. W. C. Harris, a part-purchaser, a townsite was designated. In 1859, Texas‚ first railroad, the Buffalo, Brazos, and Colorado Railway reached Eagle Lake from Harrisburg. Judge J. J. Mansfield, distinguished congressman from Texas, began his law practice here and edited a small newspaper, "The Canoe". He was elected County Judge in 1888. Eagle Lake was incorporated September 13, 1888. Capt. J. W. McCarty was the first mayor, and W. T. Eldridge, later founder of Sugarland Industries, was the first City Marshall. William Dunovant, a cotton planter, and grower and miller of sugar cane, introduced rice growing into the area in the lower lake in 1898. Thereafter, shallow wells and a system that employs water pumped from the Colorado River to the lake and then into canals to irrigate the rice, was developed.Eagle Lake was a training point for airmen from Ellington Air Force Base in 1918 and 1919 - the lake serving as a bombing target.

Until the 1950's, the waters of the lake were covered by reeds, water lilies and small islands that were formed by small trees rooting in the debris on the lake's shores when the water was low. When the water rose, these "islands" broke loose, and the wind would shift them about in the lake. Hunters and fishermen could easily become lost without a guide. Egrets, herons, roseate spoonbills, pelicans, and water-turkeys are among the many kinds of birds that have found a haven in the lake.

As rice rose in importance in the economy, the lake was cleared of most of the reeds and other growth by the introduction of nutria, allowing for efficient operation of the irrigation system.

The growing of rice on the prairies surrounding the town has attracted a vast number of ducks and geese, and the fine hunting has prompted the Chamber of Commerce to proclaim Eagle Lake "Goose Hunting Capitol of the World". The game is carefully handled, and many citizens have become members of "Ducks Unlimited", an organization dedicated to proper game management. A prairie chicken refuge is also located here and was carefully watched over by Tom Waddell, long time game-warden of Colorado County.

Amateur theatrics began here in 1923 with the Komus Klub. Out of this grew a Little Theatre, the second after Dallas, in the entire state. The Eagle Lake Study Club was organized in 1919, and has sponsored a library that only recently became public with city and county support.

Eagle Lake has long taken pride in its school system, many churches, fine homes, alert merchants, and a friendly and active citizenry.

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Eldridge

The little town of Eldridge at one time was known as Faber. On June 23, 1905, a deed had been filed for record with County Clerk Leesemann of W. T. Eldridge to the Faber Planting Company, a private corporation, conveying in fee simple five tracts of land in the C. C. Dyer league aggregating 1140.2 acres, with valuable improvements consisting of store buildings, gin, mill, drainage ditches, etc. The consideration stated was $60,000, and the property conveyed was a fine little estate situated at the village of Faber on the Garwood loop of the Cane Belt Railroad. It was chiefly devoted to the growing of sugar cane.

From this time on, the general store was known as the Faber Mercantile Company. There are records of it being called the Faber Mercantile Company as late as 1932. This property must have reverted back to W. T. Eldridge and the Sugarland Industries because by 1906 the U. S. Post office there was called Eldridge with the following postmasters:

Ernest Faber February 27, 1906
Charles Davis June 12, 1907
Louise W. Stiles January 8, 1923
William T. Mueller June 19, 1941
Discontinued April 30, 1942

Mail to Eagle Lake April 28, 1942

Eldridge also had a rural school in the same school district with Matthews and Calhoun. At one time Eldridge (Sugarland Industries) had a house and tenant farmer on every forty to sixty acres of farm land. The use of tractors in farming displaced the mule and tenant farmer from plantations such as Eldridge, thereby doing away with this type of small town.

 

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Frelsburg

Frelsburg was founded in 1837 by Captain William Frels who immigrated to Texas in 1834. He came from Germany on the ship "Congress" with other settlers such as the Bartels, Juergens, Kleberg, Von Roeder and others.

Captain Frels participated in the storming of the Alamo in the fall of 1835 and was in the Battle of San Jacinto.

Settlers came in the early 1830's and before with the Stephen F. Austin colonists. These were the Jordt, Leyendecker, Zimmer, Georg, Seidel, Piper, Zimmersheidt, Ruhmann and others. They came from Holstein and Oldenburg, Germany. Captain Frels donated land for a town site, school, Protestant Church, parsonage and cemetery.

On the 22nd of September 1847, Frelsburg was granted a post office with William Frels as the first postmaster. In 1852, Frelsburg consisted of two blacksmith shops, a cobbler shop, two general stores, a Catholic Church, a cotton gin in addition to the post office. On the 21st of December 1852, Charles Jordt was appointed postmaster. Theo. Weigert and Johann Schuette operated the blacksmith shops.

The Confederate Postmasters of Frelsburg were: First, Charles Jordt, July 12, 1861; next, Matthew Malsch on April 13, 1865.

The U. S. Postmasters following the Civil War were: Matheus Malsch, March 27, 1866; George H. Schroeder, April 10, 1876; Edo Kollmann, January 21, 1879; on December 23, 1907, the mail was transferred to New Ulm.

Public school districts were established as early as the 1870's. Schools were the Herman Seminary, St. Joseph, Boggy Branch, Zimmerscheidt, Brushy, Rocky Hill and Pin Oak. All of these consolidated with the Columbus Independent School District by 1958 or before. The Zimmerscheidt school house is one of the few one room school houses left in Texas.

Parochial schools were conducted at the Lutheran Church, St. Joseph and the Catholic Church. St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church was established in 1847 by German Catholics who came from Rineland. Peter Piper donated 72 acres of land. Father F. A. Jacobs was the first resident pastor. Priests visited the area as early as 1836. It is one of the oldest parishes in the state. The first church was a log cabin followed by frame structures in 1861 and again in 1912.

Trinity Lutheran Church was organized June 5, 1855 by Pastor J. C. Roehn. Prior to this, free Protestant and Lutheran pastors visited the area from 1841 to 1854 for ministerial works. April 23, 1978, a dedication of the official Texas Historical Marker to the church was held with the Colorado County Historical Commission participating in the program.

Today, Frelsburg consists of the Heinshon's general merchandise store; Marvin Becker now operates a garage; Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, rectory, dining hall, parish hall and cemetery; Trinity Lutheran Church, parish hall, parsonage and cemetery; also, a Volunteer Fire Department and Fireman's Auxiliary with its own building and equipment.

New and modern homes dot the country side as do oil and gas wells. Most of the land has been put into pastures and cattle graze where the soil was once tilled.

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Garwood

In 1896, M. H. Townsend, T. A. Hill, and W. T. Burford, grandfather of Mary Elizabeth Hopkins, came into possession of parts of tracts one and two of the Preston Gilbert League. Early in 1897, W. H. Shaw moved to this area, then called Red Bluff, to manage the farming and ranching of their land. We assume that this land was bought as an investment because it was not until 1898, when Captain William Dunovant planted the first rice at Eagle Lake, that they decided on rice production for Garwood. Their canal and irrigation system was developed by 1901, before the townsite was laid out.

Townsend, Hill, and Burford decided to establish a new town. On June 1, 1901, engineer I. G. Wirtz platted one hundred and sixty acres into blocks and lots; the streets and alleys were deeded to Colorado County. During this time, Townsend, Hill, and Burford took over naming the town, its streets, and its avenues. The town was named Garwood for a lawyer friend of M. H. Townsend, Hiram Morgan Garwood, who practiced law in Bastrop, La Grange, and later in Houston. He was a very prominent lawyer and in 1906, was president of the Texas Bar Association. He also served in the Texas House and Senate. Judge Garwood never lived in the area of Garwood or Colorado County.

These are the street's names: Schultz for Charles Schultz, a man who had lived in the area before it was platted; Frnka for Ed. R. Frnka, and early settler, who owned the first mercantile store in the town; Labay for John Labay, another early settler; Wirtz for I. G. Wirtz, the engineer who surveyed the land; Arthur in memory of Arthur L. Burford, a lawyer and the son of W. T. Burford; Baxter for a real estate man from Rock Island; Nelle for Nelle Griffin, who was the first postmistress; Braden for John Braden, and early settler; Townsend for Marcus Townsend, who was a lawyer; and Hill for T. A. Hill, a banker from Weimar.

The avenues were named: Boulden for Thomas F. Boulden who was the County Commissioner and first manager of the Red Bluff Rice Company; Burford for W. T. Burford, Sheriff of Colorado County; Hastedt for John Hastedt, County Commissioner; and Mansfield for Joseph J. Mansfield, County Judge.

The purpose of this town was to put the canals and irrigation system to use, and with these, Garwood became a very important rice producing community. Garwood has an annual income from rice of $15, 000,000 to $20, 000,000.

Garwood has quite an income from oil and gas production since the 1930's when the first producing well in Colorado County was drilled. There are numerous wells in production today with more being drilled.

During the past few years, Garwood has become the major producer of gravel in the county, which has produced gravel commercially since the 1870's. There are four major gravel companies in the area. They ship by rail and there are also many gravel trucks daily going in different directions.

Deer, duck and goose hunting is exceptional, an enterprise which adds to the economy of the area.

Garwood, a community of 600 people, has a Lions Club which began in the late 1940's that has sponsored the following: Garwood Lions Fair each October, a money raising project, originally intended to support the Garwood Volunteer Fire Department, which is second to none for a community of this size, having 3 modern fire trucks plus 2 ambulances; Garwood Lion's Park, a fifteen acre park with a swimming pool, many other projects too numerous to mention.

Garwood's modern library which was established in the 1950's is a source of pride for the entire community.

Garwood is a good place to live, where people are friendly and progressive.

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Glidden

Sometime in the latter part of 1882, the Columbus railroad yards were moved three miles west of town, since Columbus did not afford sufficient room for the switches necessary open the connection of this line with the Pacific. By January 25, 1883, the Railroad Company had expended a large amount of money and put a good deal of work upon the place. A large round-house had been erected, a good deal of switch-track laid, a large well dug, and other improvements made.

The Colorado County Citizen of April 5, 1883, in an article calls the new town Glidden, which is the first time it was mentioned by that name. A considerable boom was created, and property owners in that section multiplied present prices by 2 once, and again.

By December 13, 1883, the railroad telegraph had been removed from Columbus to Glidden, and the Railroad Company by then had plans to erect a depot.

By January, 1887, Glidden was slowly but surely improving. Work was progressing rapidly on Mr. P. McGuire's new hotel. Mr. Gollochar, former manager of the Railroad Hotel, with family, had gone to Houston to reside, and Mr. Skinner had taken charge of the establishment. Glidden then could boast of a photographer, in the person of A. Guiroux; Mr. J. A. Patterson was in charge of the school which had a good attendance. The Farmers‚ Alliance there was alive to the cause and had a membership of over thirty; held regular meetings on Friday night before the second and forth Sundays. The Oakes Brothers had a grocery store on the Main Street next door to the McGuire's saloon.

On May 27, 1885, James Converse, who was at that time chief engineer for the G. H. and S. A. Railroad Company, filed the first official plat of Glidden, Texas. The land where Glidden is located is a 159.64 acre tract of land which the G. H. and S. A. Railroad Company purchased from T. J. Oakes on December 21, 1882. Two years later an amended plat was filed leaving off the town lots north of the railroad tracks.

The United States Post Office at Glidden was established and John A. Patterson was appointed the first postmaster March 24, 1888.

By 1891 Glidden had a population of 200 with the following business places:

W. H. Boorman Saloon
S. L. Craig Grocery & Saloon
Peter McGuire Hotel
Oakes & Company General Store & Saloon
J. M. Young General Store

By November, Glidden had a free telephone line with free communication with Columbus. This line was built at the expense of Dr. R. H. Harrison, and much credit was due him for the deep interest he took in the matter; also, to lineman Oscar A. Zumwalt, who superintended the building of the same.

Today, Glidden is an active little community with a population of 55.

 

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Lakeside

Captain William Dunovant was born in Chester County, South Carolina, March 20, 1845. He entered the Confederate service at the age of fifteen years and six months as a private in Company F, Seventeenth Regiment of the South Carolina volunteers; was subsequently appointed for skill and valor the captaincy of Company C of the same regiment. He was severely wounded in the right arm at the second battle of Manassas, and lost his left arm in the battle of the Crater on the Petersburg lines in the summer of 1864. In August, 1865, he came to Texas and located near Eagle Lake. At that time, he was a comparatively poor man, and in debt, but he bought land on credit, on the bend of the Old Caney, and accordingly prospered.

He was an extensive planter of sugar cane, cotton and rice, and for a time, president of the Cane Belt Railroad, of which he was the principal owner. The town of Lakeside came into being in June, 1898, when the Lakeside depot was completed. Captain Dunovant, owner of the town, built Lakeside as a place to house his various enterprises. Soon after the depot was completed, he began the erecting of a large store-house, 32 by 112 feet, near the depot. He then began building one of the finest and most convenient gins in Texas at Lakeside. He also built a pumping plant on the lake which was run by electricity from the gin. This was probably the first electric pumping plant in Texas; today they are all electric. He also built a rice mill at a cost of $150,000 and sugar refinery at a cost of over $600,000. He built houses and a hotel which constituted a village of some 500 people.

James C. Carver was the Lakeside U. S. Postmaster appointed July 23, 1900, to May 31, 1904, when the mail was from Eagle Lake.

The town of Lakeside began to decline after W. T. Eldridge killed Captain William Dunovant on August 4, 1902.

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Matthews

John Matthews was born September 10, 1796 in Campbell County, Virginia, son of Luke and Judith Dance Matthews. He came to Texas very early and settled in Jackson County first and was in Colorado County by 1827 where he bought land from James Nelson who was one of Stephen F. Austin's "Old 300". He built his first house in the river bottom but later built a house on the prairie at what is now Matthews. The lumber for the large house was shipped from Florida by boat to Columbia and from Columbia to Colorado County by ox team. The house was a two story house put together with pegs.

John Matthews never married. After the death of his father, his mother came to Colorado County to live with him.

The tax records of 1840 lists John Matthews as having 2220 acres of land, 17 slaves, 1 horse and 85 head of cattle. On the Federal Census of 1850, he is shown as having $10,000 in property and 15 slaves. In 1860, he had $80,000 in real property, $145, 800 in personal property and 140 slaves. He had 800 acres of improved land, raised 10,000 bushels of corn and 589 bales of cotton. When John Matthews needed financial assistance, a younger brother Nathaniel of Lunenburg County, Virginia came to his rescue with financial aid. When John became ill, Nathaniel came to Texas and took him back to Virginia where he died in March, 1861. He willed all of his Texas property to his brother Nathaniel.

Nathaniel Matthews never lived in Texas but made many trips to supervise. His children inherited the property. His son John came to Colorado County in 1871 after graduating from Virginia Military Institute. Haynie Matthews came in 1881.

Until the fall of 1911, John Matthews lived on his farm at Matthews Station, where he conducted his large farming interests and a mercantile establishment. In 1911, he gave up the mercantile business at Matthews and moved to Eagle Lake, but retained his farming interests.

By the 1880's, on the old plantation beside the home, there was a cottage for the overseer, a store, gin, and blacksmith shop and many Negro cabins. This was the beginning of the small village of Matthews.

Matthews U. S. Postmasters

Mary McRee June 28, 1895
Elbert H. Horn December 18, 1900
John Guynn June 5, 1901
Mary D. McRee (declined) August 9, 1902
John Matthews September 25, 1902
Mail to Eagle Lake September 30, 1905

By the 1900's, Matthews had a school and a population of 100 inhabitants, with the following businesses:

Horace McRee General Store
John Matthews General Store
Matthews and McRee Cotton Gin

Matthews today is just one of many Colorado County ghost towns.

 

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Mentz

Mentz is a rural community in Colorado County which was settled by German immigrants who named the settlement for their former homeland in Germany. It was evidently first named Neu or New Mainz, as this name appears on some of the tombstones in the St. Roch Catholic Cemetery and on some church records. Many of the settlers came to Texas under the auspices of the Mainzer Verein (Mainz Society). At least two groups of these settlers came from the village of Buedesheim (now Bingen-Buedescheim) near Bingen on the Rhine. Bingen is about fifteen miles west of Mainz (also called Mentz).

Many of these early settlers were of the Roman Catholic faith. Some of their early records have been located in the Catholic Church of Bingen-Buedesheim and in the records of the Diocese of Mainz, Germany.

As early as 1850 (some records are dated 1847), the Very Reverend Victory Gury and Father Charles Tarrilion came through the woods on horseback from Frelsburg to tend to the spiritual needs of the early settlers of Mentz.

In 1857 Franz Burtschell, one of the early settlers from Buedesheim, deeded to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Galveston, a parcel of land containing 4 acres for one dollar, the condition being that the tract of land was to be used for the purpose of erecting a church thereon, also with the privilege of erecting a parsonage and school buildings. A small church was completed in 1858.

The settlers also named their church with the homeland in mind. Near Bingen, Germany, to the southeast, is the Rochusberg on which stands the celebrated Chapel of St. Roch. The Mentz church is also named St. Roch (also called St. Rochus and St. Roche's).

The Catholic community of Mentz grew so rapidly that in 1867, plans were under way to build a larger church. The people themselves built most of the church, giving of their spare time and hauling stone on wagons drawn by oxen. When the stone church was completed in 1871, the parish received its first resident priest. The parish prospered until the stone church was completely destroyed by fire in 1940. The present church was built in 1941.

Mentz had its own Post Office for a short time from 1889 until 1896, and then again from 1897 until 1913 when it was combined with Alleyton. Besides the school at Mentz, some of the students also attended the school at Bachlor Hill. There were also a general store and a dance hall in Mentz at one time.

Many descendants of the original settlers still live in the area, and farming and cattle raising is the main business.

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Nada

Nada, named from a Spanish word meaning nothing, is a small village on the southern tip of Colorado County, at the intersection of Highway 71 and County Road 115. Nada is voting Precinct No. 5 with approximately 200 voters.

Its chief industries are agriculture and livestock. Corn, rice, and milo are abundantly produced. Once it could have been accused of "carrying all its eggs in one basket" that is raising cotton. But that is no longer true. The cotton gin that buzzed busily a decade ago is at a standstill.

It was in 1881 that John William Schoellmann, a native of Westphalia, Germany, and Joseph Labay, a native of Mahren-Austria came from Frelsburg, Texas with their families to settle and farm the land. Schoellmann also opened the first store and operated a cotton gin. Other families who came from established communities in Texas, and from Europe, before 1900 were Eggemeyer, Frnka, Krumpholtz, Bittner, Blinka, Heja, Schneider, Frels, Engbrock, Hemmi, Leopold, Krenek, Korenek, Kubecka, Skuca, Gerbermann, Heine, Kallina, Hoffmann, Waligura, Meismer, Popp, Schramm, Wobbe, Richter, Staff, Wesselski, Boenisch, Drlik, Gold, Arnold, Langer, and Cernoch. This migration made the community predominantly Czech and German and Catholic.

A United States Post Office was opened in 1894 with William Engbrock first Postmaster.

A Catholic Church, dedicated to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was built in 1896. The present Spanish type brick structure was built in 1930.

A public school was built in 1889 where English, Czech, and German were taught. Presently, the school is parochial teaching grades 1 through 8.

Outstanding persons who helped mold the community: Walter and Mary (Lichnovsky) Braden, merchants; John and Steve Labay, ginners; Rev. Barnabas Held O.S.B., Pastor; Mrs. Joe (Theresa) Schneider, organizer of Confraternity of Christian Mothers in 1899; Martin Korenek, organizer of K.J.T. Society; Leopold Brothers: Emil, Arthur, and Leo who each served 60 years as church sacristan, organist, and Acolyte (master of the Bells) respectfully.

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New Bielau - Content

The first settlers that came to the New Bielau - Content Community came in 1822. It was known in those days as the "Prairie Community". It was near the "crossroads" so to speak of the early settlements of Texas. The little settlement of Content had a store, a bank and cotton gin; and later a school and a German Methodist Church. This little settlement was on the stage line that ran from San Antonio to Harrisburg. When the railroad was built four miles north of Content, the stores were moved into Weimar, which was built when the railroad came through. The Prairie Community was very sparsely settled, being mostly open range land. In the 1860's, the first immigrant German family settled here coming from the Frelsburg area, and was soon followed by many more from Austin County.

Later the German immigrants came here directly from Germany. It was then named New Bielau to the south and remained Content to the north. It became an industrious small farm settlement.

The Content School was organized in 1873 and remained in use until 1925. The German Methodist church was organized in 1879 and was moved to East Bernard, Texas, in 1893.

The New Bielau School was organized and built in 1878. It remained in use until 1925. The New Bielau community also had a cotton gin, but there were no business houses there.

In 1886, the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized, and in 1888, the church building was built and the cemetery was plotted. The original church building still stands and has regular church services every Sunday. The cemetery is known to be one of the best kept rural cemeteries in this area.

In 1916, the New Bielau Casino Hall Society, Ltd. Was organized by stockholders and a building was built the same year. This building served the German community for many years as a place of entertainment. The building still stands; it was sold in 1962, but is still used as a dance hall.

In 1925, the Content School and the New Bielau School joined together and formed the New Bielau - Content Consolidated School. It had ten grades and was referred to as a "Modern Rural High School in Texas". It remained in use until 1948 when the community voted to consolidate with the Weimar Independent School District. The building is still in use and it is now known as the "New Bielau Community Center". This building is used by people of the community for family reunions, parties, etc. This operation is run by a Board of Directors elected by the people of the Community.

 

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Oakland "On the Navidad"

The Original town called "Prairie Point" was laid out in 1865 by Captain A. C. Hereford, a Mexican War Veteran. He had owned the property where the town site was platted. It was part of the James Bowie League and was located on the east bank of the Navidad in the northwestern portion of Colorado County. Sometime later, he petitioned the Postal Department for a post office for his pioneer town. The request was denied because of another post office being located so near. Col. Amasa Turner in 1848 petitioned and was granted a post office at his plantation on the west bank of the Navidad. He had named his plantation and the post office Oakland after his previous home site on Galveston Island. A compromise between Turner and Hereford was reached. If the town's name would be changed to Oakland, Turner agreed to move his post office to Hereford's "Prairie Point". Turner, a Representative from Lavaca County, had a two story log house which also served as a stage stop on the "Old Gonzales Road". In Fremantle's diary, which he kept while traveling through Texas, Fremantle mentioned dining at Turner's Farm. It served as a stage stop until after the Civil War when the Turners moved to Gonzales.

The "Old Gonzales Road" was one of the major roads in Texas. It ran from San Felipe to Columbus, through Oakland to Gonzales, and San Antonio. When the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railroad extended its line to Alleyton and the Union Troops blockaded the Texas ports, cotton from all over Texas was shipped to Alleyton. From there it was hauled by oxen through Oakland to Brownsville. By 1871 the rails were extended to Columbus and the stage departed from there six times a week. Stops were made at Content, Oakland, Hallettsville, Sweet Home, Gonzales, Belmont, Seguin, and San Antonio.

During the Civil War, a Confederate soldier's camp called "Camp Oakland" was maintained. In November of 1862, Army Records show that 623 men were stationed there and it was considered a major pivot point on the "Old Gonzales Road". The camp was located a few miles north of Oakland, believed to be near the Clear Creek Cemetery. Also, citizens of Oakland had set up a home for sick soldiers in the town.

Bill Townsend had the first hotel in 1857. James Neer had the first store and his store issued Confederate script. Merchants were Henry Bock, at one time Texas Ranger; Seiner had a store and butcher shop, Mr. Franklin ran a saloon and store, and Van Waggner and Andrews also opened a store. Andrews was killed in the Civil War. Later merchants were W. Claughton Bouldin, the druggist; Thomas H. Mullin, the Assistant Postmaster in 1894 and also a dealer in staple and fancy groceries. R. S. Hughes ran a hack line between Weimar and Oakland. Mail, packages and passengers were carried daily. F. A. and H. J. Strunk stocked dry goods, men's and boy's clothing, boots, shoes, hats, and fancy articles. C. H. Bock kept the best assortment of liquor and cigars at his saloon. The Oakland State Bank was granted a charter on December 7, 1920 with a capital stock of $20,000. It opened for business the second week in February, 1921. Directors were J. P. Mayes, John Wojtek, O. H. Bock and Ernst Strunk. It closed for good on January 13, 1932 with no losses.

The Oakland Masonic Lodge No. 258 was established in June 1860 with 20 charter members. By 1861 they were granted their charter. A fire in 1893 destroyed the building, furniture, records and jewels. The Weimar Lodge assisted in securing new jewels and furniture, part being taken from the disbanded Osage Lodge. Another fire in 1948 destroyed the Lodge on the northwest corner of the Square. So few members remained that they united with the Weimar Lodge. Other organizations in Oakland were the Woodsmen of the World, the Hunting Club and Eastern Star for the Ladies. Numerous plays were presented by church groups in the early days and a choir was the highlight of Christmas activities.

In its heyday, Oakland had a population of 300 and supplied the needs of farmers and ranchers in the area. When the railroad reached Weimar in 1873, it was the beginning of the end for our town. Today, we still maintain a Post Office, but the sign says at the entrance: "Population Sparse, Smile You Don't Have to Live Here - We Do".

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Osage

The area of this community was first settled in the 1850's by prominent people from the Southern states, some of which were: the Adkins, Burfords, Caldwells, Campbells, Fishers, Garretts, Goodes, Graces, Hancocks, Hubbards, Matthews, McMillans, McLearys, Mitchells, Moores, Neals, Newsomes, Shaws, Taylors, Wilsons, Whitfields, Yorks, and many others. About 1856, the settlement was named by Dr. Samuel Davies McLeary, for the luxuriant growth of bois d‚arc, or osage orange, in the vicinity.

The town of Osage was located on little Harvey's Creek, five miles northeast of present Weimar. The first post office was a Confederate Post Office with S. D. McLeary postmaster, and established October 30, 1862. On October 22, 1866, after the Civil War, the U. S. Postmaster was John H. Clay. The post office was discontinued on April 16, 1869.

Osage Masonic Lodge No. 301 was chartered June 11, 1868 with Wesley Smith, Master; W. T. McLeary, Senior Warden; H. S. Cable, Junior Warden.

By 1878, Osage had one store, one blacksmith shop, one physician and one church, in which the people had the pleasure of hearing the sermons of the Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist ministers. The ministers all seemed to be endowed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, as they met as brothers should, and preached from the same pulpit. Osage had one high school, conducted in an able and efficient manner by Prof. E. B. Carruth, assister by his amiable and accomplished wife. The musical department being under the management of Miss A. E. Rhodes.

For many years Osage was famous for it's camp meetings held yearly by the Methodists. In 1894, George S. Chapman had a gin and mill, Charles Colquest was the blacksmith, and Robert D. Shaw had the general store. But now only the cemetery, the place name and a historical marker all that remain.

 

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Pisek

Originally, the town of Pisek was located where the present settlement of Lone Oak is today. Before 1900, it consisted of two stores, one owned by Mike Krenek and one owned by J. H. Mazac. There was a dance hall operated by Mike Krenek, a blacksmith shop run by Dick Hilgen, and also a Post Office.

PISEK - U. S. POSTMASTERS

Joseph Mazac 4 Jan. 1896
Paul Hagermann 11 Dec. 1899
Michael E. Kraneck 16 Aug. 1900
Wilhemine Dreyer 26 Sept. 1902
Dick Hilgen 7 Feb. 1905
Mail to Fayetteville 2 Jan. 1907

Some of the early settlers of the Pisek community were: Kickler, Schmidt, Canik, Kulhanek, Lutonsky, Dvorak, and Stein families.

In 1887, the Missouri-Kansas & Texas Railroad (the Katy) completed its line from Dennison, Texas, to Boggy Tank. Boggy Tank was described as that spot in the wilderness identified only by the tank in the brush. A turn table was built here to turn the engines around. On April 10, 1893, the Katy finally arrived at Houston by completing 80 miles of extension to the main line from the railhead at Boggy Tank.

Pisek relocated after 1900 at the Katy Railroad track, mile west from the railroad crossing at Boggy Tank. Mike Krenek had a store and cotton seed house and Lorenz Kulhanek, a saloon.

A celebration was given by Mike Krenek at Pisek at the railroad tracks around 1910. Mike had bought 19 boxcar loads of cotton seed and invited his patrons for a celebration. The Krenek band from Wallis furnished the entertainment.

The Krenek Store was later operated by Arno Arndt from 1924 until 1941 when it was relocated at Lone Oak on F. M. 1291. The community of Loan Oak received its name from the single oak tree standing in the middle of the road at the present location. What was left of Pisek is now Lone Oak, therefore Pisek has made a complete circle from the present location of Lone Oak to the railroad and back to Lone Oak.

 

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Provident City

Provident City, a land promotion in the southern "panhandle" of Colorado County, was founded in 1909 and named for the Provident Land Company of Kansas City, which owned much land in the area. During the peak of the short life of the town, more than 500 families were living there. Most of the 500 families arrived from the middle west to claim their five and ten acre tracts of land bought, sight unseen, from the Kansas City promoters.

The land company built a hotel in Ganado to house their clients, who were mostly from the northern states. They took them in surreys out to see this prospective new city and showed them a railroad grade which had no beginning or no end but which promised to eventually bring the railroad from Glen Flora to Provident City. Some of the people living in Provident City were: the Colemans, Goffs, Fischers, Upchurches, Hazelys, Withams, Guinns, Spencers, Stimsons, Prices, Clinkscales, Knights, Whitleys, Finlays, Tenners, Giffords, Crosses, Terrells, Neumans, Nolans, Shacklets, Fullers, Menos, Browns, McClains, Burns, Hopkins, Crabbs, Arnolds, Spores, Wilbanks, Kings, Hunts, Lapphans, Spoldings, Andersons, McGees, Carpenters, Rees, Townsends, Rogers, and Maritzkes, and many more.

The town had a post office from February, 1910, until August 31, 1953, and also had the following: a bank with capital of $10,000, T. B. Coleman, President and J. H. Fenner, cashier; jewelry store; saloon; feed store; lumber yard; Baptist Church; Methodist Church; grocery store; hotel; canning factory; broom factory; doctor; drug store; contractory; blacksmith shop; mail carrier; notary public; restaurant; well digger; schoolhouse; furniture & undertaker; harness shop and general store.

The town started breaking up between the years of 1915 and 1920, with the families drifting away, mostly back to the north from which they came. Now all that remains of the business district is the stately old hotel, which now headquarters the Hancock Family's (of El Campo) Ranch.

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Ramsey

Ramsey, on the S. P. Railroad six miles west of Eagle Lake, was a small town with many names. In the year of 1888, the school was known as Ramsey's Point. Then for years it bore the name of "Nigh", later Ramseyville and then Ramsey.

Nigh - U. S. Postmasters - John R. Alley March 14, 1892

R. S. to Eagle Lake January 31, 1900

Ramseyville - U. S. Postmaster - John R. Alley January 10, 1916

Move to Alleyton October 31, 1917

Ramsey's Point school September 1, 1888, J. R. Alley Sub-Trustees; H. M. Johnson and S. S. Lott, Trustees.

FULL NAMES OF CHILDREN - Alphabetically Arranged - Names of Children, Age

Alley, Mack 14
Alley, Willie 10
Adams, Milam 8
Clapp, Rosa 12
Clapp, Gracie 8
Causey, John 14
Causey, Frank 12
Causey, Tom 9
Duke, Brown 8
Duke, Fannie 13
Duke, Beatie 8
David, Erp 10
David, Leslie 8
Harris, Ladie 13
Harris, Matt 10
Hildebrand, Annie 13
Hildebrand, Willie 11
Hoover, Delia 9
Hoover, Eddie 8
Kelsh, Dora 13
Neal, Maggie 10
Neal, Annie Belle 8
Schindler, Joseph 10
Schindler, Susie 8
Strahan, Victoria 15
Strahan, Bulah 13
Strahan, Cora 10
Strahan, Thomas 8
Turnbough, Estelle 9
Wilson, Lola 14
Wilson, Minnie 12
Wofford, Robert 14
Wofford, Tinie 13
Wofford, Florence 13
Wofford, Fannie 10

As early as 1894, when the Southern Pacific Railroad had a depot, section house, Wells, Fargo & Company Express, and telephone, they called the town Ramsey. Also, in 1894, J. R. Alley had a mill and gin. By 1923, H. D. Swearingen had a grocery store in Ramsey. This store could have been there for a number of years, but this is the first record of it found. This is another Colorado County small town that has disappeared due to changing times.

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Rock Island

Rock Island, a land promotion by C. S. Penfield and Charles Peterson, had its beginning in February of 1896. Surveyor J. F. Weed surveyed and laid out the townsite for them: It was a Subdivision in Survey No. 56 and 2.89 acres out of Survey No. 57 I. & G. N. R. R. Co. Surveys. The survey and the map of Rock Island was completed on the 19th day of February, 1896. By February 1896, the S. A. & A. P. Railroad had put in a siding for the new townsite. By this time several families had already arrived, one family had already erected a two-story barn, another a dwelling house, and others were preparing for their families to arrive soon. A schoolhouse was to be built as soon as possible, a general merchandise store erected and a lumber yard to be put in within a week.

The first post office in the Rock Island area was called Crasco. David A. Black was the first postmaster appointed April 30, 1896. Crasco was named for Crasco Creek which was nearby. In 1824, shortly after Stephen F. Austin's "Old 300" settlers arrived in the area, a man named Crasco and some companions were driving a "cavy-yard" of horses and mules to Louisiana. When they were crossing that creek they were attacked by robbers and all were killed except one Mexican who was wounded. The horses and mules were stolen. The Mexican made his way to Beasons, now Columbus, and six or eight of the settlers went to the creek where they found the bodies of Crasco and his companions. They buried them and set out on the trail of the robbers and the horses and mules. They found them crossing the Brazos River, and fired upon them, killing two of the three men. Previously, when robbers were caught, they were tied and whipped and released, but this did not remedy the sin. Since there was no Court of Justice, the settlers had to set out on their own. This time the settlers cut off the head of one of the robbers and stuck it on a pole by the wayside as a warning for all who might see it.

A petition was presented to the Post Office Department by the citizens of Rock Island asking for a change of the name of the office from Crasco to rock Island. The petition was granted and the name of the post office was subsequently changed to Rock Island. Charles Peterson was appointed the first postmaster of Rock Island on the 9th of August, 1897, and the Crasco post office was closed.

One of the first families to settle in Rock Island was Mr. Abram Reddout Vorrhees, his wife, Kate Auld Drummond Voorhees and children. The settled at Rock Island in April 1896 when only five houses had been built in town. He then, in 1896, built a beautiful Victorian house, which is now the property of Mr. And Mrs. Chester Hudson. In December of 1896, thirty-nine families arrived in a

special train with a banner on each side which read: "Frisco Line - N. A. Bakers Special Coach to Rock Island, Texas".

The land promoters advertised the land as a "lush tropical paradise", which it was not. By October 2, 1897, Messrs. Penfield & Peterson, the fathers of the Rock Island colony, began to have competition from the Skaggs Real Estate Company and Wat Tinkler Real Estate Company, and the land promotion which was fooling good innocent people got in high gear, thereby increasing the population of Rock Island.

In the next few years, Rock Island was a bustling little town. By 1904, it had a population of 367. But in the ensuing years, the population began to decline until today there are only 160 inhabitants remaining.

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Santa Anna

The Santa Anna community is located in Northwest Colorado County, bordered on the southwest by the Colorado River, and on the northwest by Fayette County. Here in the beautiful Colorado River Valley and gently sloping hills early Indians made their home. Some of the Indian artifacts date back to at least 5000years. There is one archeological site that covers several acres. The debris at this site is over four feet deep. This indicates that the Indians lived at this site for many centuries.

The first Anglo-American family to settle in this area was the Duty Family. They received their grant from Stephen F. Austin. After several years, the Dutys sold their land and moved to the Bastrop area. In 1824, Jesse Burnham built a ferry on the Colorado River in the Santa Anna area. The Burnham's Ferry was used by people traveling from San Antonio to east Texas and Louisiana. On March 19, 1836, the army of Sam Houston destroyed the ferry to prevent its use by the Mexican Army.

During the late 1800's most of the families in the Santa Anna community were of German and Czechoslovakian nationality. Some of the families who owned land around 1900 were Chernik, Fehmer, Beyer, Kallus, Hoelscher, & Zapalac families. During this period there were over 100 families living in the community. Most of the people were sharecroppers farming cotton and corn. The land not used for row crops was graded by cattle.

The Santa Anna School of the early 1900's was a two story building. It was later replaced by a one story structure. The two story structure was moved and became the Joe Chernik home. Today it is the home of Mr. And Mrs. Bennie Hrachovy. Mrs. Hrachovy is the daughter of the late Joe and Lydia Chernik. The one story structure was moved to the Riverside School Campus in Columbus around 1950. In about 1966, it was torn down.

Today (1985) about 20 families live in the Santa Anna community. Most of the families are descendants of the earlier residents. Names of today's residents are Hrachovy, Fehmer, Kallus, Leyendecker, Roesler, Hoelscher, Chovanec, Machinsky, Urban, Tobias, Smidovec, Gaertner, Baumbach, Janish, Becka, Orsak, Schobel, and Zapalac. In 1985, the agriculture consists of cattle production, hay and pecans.

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Shaw's Bend

Josiah Shaw, son of Joseph and Abigail, was born December 24, 1817, in Shelby County, Kentucky. Josiah Shaw and Delinda Jane Fitzgerald were married January 5, 1841, in La Grange, Texas. The present Shaw's Bend was founded by Josiah Shaw on November 28, 1859. He bought one half labor and a quarter of a league plus other tracts of land from Freeman Pettus and J. Tumlinson. The Tumlinson grant was on the east side of the Colorado River. Mr. Shaw called his plantation Sunnyside.

Senator M. S. Quay of Pennsylvania, one of the foremost politicians of his time, taught school as a young man at what was later called Shaw's Bend. He boarded at the house of Mr. Alexander Fitzgerald. They carried on a correspondence for many years.

Henry Kuhn was born on a farm at Mentz in 1861. The Kuhn family moved to Shaw's Bend when he was 10 and hauled lumber from a saw mill about 75 miles away to build a house. He went to school in a one room building on a hill hear Kuhn's Creek - the school teacher was Josiah Shaw. This building was also used as a church and dance hall. The young people would square dance, polka and waltz to the music of an accordion and fiddle.

When Shaw's Bend was first settled, people were wondering what to call it. They had about decided on Sunnyside, the name of Mr. Shaw's plantation, but Henry Kuhn told them they should call it Shaw's Bend because Josiah Shaw was the first settler and he owned most of the land in the bend of the river.

As more people moved in, the small village had a store, cotton gin, dance platform, and blacksmith shop. A larger school building was built for the whites and one for the blacks. There was never a post office called Shaw's Bend but there was one called Hillebrand with Herrmann C. Hillebrand postmaster from September 29, 1893 until March 15, 1895, when there was rural service from Columbus.

Cora Shaw Rudicil was born at Sunnyside plantation of her parents, A. J. and Mahala Lackey Shaw, August 1, 1876, at Shaw's Bend. She was a teacher for many years in rural schools of the county, teaching at Shaw's Bend, Borden, and Glidden. Another teacher at Shaw's Bend was a Lutheran minister, Professor D. H. Weber during the years 1892 and 1893. There was also St. John's Lutheran Church at Shaw's Bend which was later moved to Ellinger.

One thing of interest was that the young people of Glidden, just across the river from Shaw's Bend, would borrow hand cars from the railroad company. These cars were used as transportation across the river to Shaw's Bend for Saturday night dances. Mr. August Sommerlotte owned the gin, grist mill and dance hall. They would spend the night with friends and return to Glidden on Sunday

mornings. After the Glidden to La Grange railroad was put in there was a flag stop at Shaw's Bend.

Some of the early settlers were: Shaws, Fitzgeralds, Brooks, Graces, Towells, Kuhns, Hildebrands, Henickes, Fuchs, Sommerlattes, Poenitzsches, Schobels, Horndts, Walkers, Winks, Brunes, Beckers, Stanciks and Fowlers.

Today the Railroad is gone, the small village is no more, and Shaw's Bend is just a nice farming community.

 

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Sheridan

Early in 1908, a promotional scheme was devised to lure investors to invest in the Sheridan area. They were told that they could raise figs and other fruit. In July, 1908, Hugh Sheridan sold his land to C. L. Pierce for $1.00 and other considerations. Pierce was general manager of the San Antonio Loan and Securities Company which actually held title to the land. In September, 1908, a post office was opened at Sheridan with Mrs. Lea A. Scott as postmistress. The post office stayed in Sheridan until 1912 when it was temporarily moved to Cheetham. But in a few months it was moved back to Sheridan. For many years there was quite a feud between Cheetham and Sheridan.

In January 1909, the plat of the town of Sheridan was recorded in the Deed of Records of Colorado County by C. L. Pierce. We know from information written on a board in the Sheridan Hotel, now owned by Wayne and Natalie Dupree, that the building was finished on March 6, 1909, signed by Edwin Brown the builder. Almost immediately, guests began to arrive, and according to the hotel register, the guests were from Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and other states. It can be assumed that the town lots and tracts of land were well advertised in those and other states. B. A. Johnson registered at the Sheridan Hotel December 16, 1909, and by 1911, he was general manager of the Sheridan Land Company. He sold and deeded lots in Sheridan for a number of years. There were three Johnson brothers, Ben, Joe and Richard and their brother-in-law G. C. Danforth, who lived in Sheridan, and were promoters and owned most of the land.

A copy of the Sheridan News published in Sheridan in April, 1912, states that "we are getting our park in shape and will have Sheridan a beauty spot before long." There was also a pavilion in the park. The Sheridan News also stated "Irish potatoes are in fine shape, and we feel proud of the fine showing that they have made here." They noted that the cucumbers are coming along, and they were sure that they would be better than anticipated. It was also noted strawberries were coming in and they were feeling sorry for the folks up north, snow bound for so long.

The 1914 - 1915 issue of the Texas Gazetteer, R. L. Polks & Company Business Directory, said that the population of Sheridan was 150. They had a weekly newspaper that was published by B. A. Johnson, the "Sheridan News." They had a railroad and express service, telephone and electric lights, a Fig Growers Association and a Fig Preserve Plant. The Hotel was run by Mrs. R. F. Johnson. The Sheridan Land and Improvement Company was listed and also a general store and a tannery, Poultry Breeders were also listed.

In 1913, it was rumored that there was a gas field near Sheridan. However, M. D. Hunter told the Weimar Mercury that people should be put wise about that rumor. The Mercury stated that there was no limit what people would go to to make a dollar. In 1914, a Kansas Geologist predicted that there was gas and oil under foot in the Sheridan area. In 1932, a firm of Adair and Daniels drilled a well on one B. A. Johnson's Lease. The well was drilled 5350 feet but they abandoned their project, saying that there was no oil of gas there. Eight years later in 1940, Shell Oil Company brought in a discovery well in the Sheridan field, almost on the same spot where Adair and Daniels had drilled. It made a prophet of the 1914 geologist. It was the first of many wells drilled in the Sheridan area, mostly for gas.

Today, Sheridan is a nice little town with a population of 225 inhabitants.

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Shimek

Not much is left of the town of Shimek. As a matter of fact there is nothing left. It was about 8 miles south of Weimar and about ¸ mile west of farm road 155. Mr. And Mrs. Henry Hnatck live across the road from where the old store used to be and they make up todays population. The town could never boast of a population over 8 or 10 but it served all the farms and ranches in the area. Mrs. Hnatck's grandpa, Tom Shimek, bought the land, the gin, and the store from the Allens, and the Allens bought it from A. C. Herefords. Land was donated by the Herefords for a church, school and cemetery. All were located a little bit south of Shimek.

The school and cemetery have always been called the County Line School and the County Line Cemetery because it falls on the Lavaca and Colorado Co. line.

The store in Shimek carried mostly groceries and dry goods with the post office in the back. Mr. Fritz Pavlik was postmaster and clerk in the store. When he dug his big hand in the candy barrel for your nickels worth of candy, you got your money's worth. Seems like candy was a lot better tasting back then. It was mixed candy and would come in 25 to 30 lb. wooden buckets. Maybe the reason it was so good was because we got it so seldom.

The Allens ran the store up until 1907 when it burned. Mr. Tom Shimek then built a new store and rented to out to Robert Dahze. When Mr. Dahze moved to Woodsboro, he sold his interest to Mr. Walter Scott. The Scotts ran the store and the post office until it closed down. The gin which was a little north of the Hnatck house was started by the Herefords. Mr. Will Allen bought it, then John and Will Shimek bought it and ran it to the end. All the cotton in the area, which was considerable, was brought there for ginning. Corn was ground into meal at the gin. There was no other store closer than Oakland.

The school was located right next to the cemetery and was a pretty good size school. Forty-two scholars does not sound like a lot now, but in the early 20's, it was big. Most of the teachers were young ladies who had gone on to college and had come back to the community to teach. Some boarded with the Shimeks in their two story house. A Methodist church was located close to the road and preachers came from Weimar of Oakland for services.

Like every other community in those days, Shimek had a meat club. About 20 members would come, some as far as 5 miles on Saturday to get their meat. Usually, they butchered in front of Mr. Tom's house so folks could pick up the meat and buy groceries across the road all in one trip.

The first mail carrier with a car was Gus Wornat. Before him was Mr. Grobe, and before that Fritz Pavlik. Mr. John Allen was the last to deliver mail to the Shimek Post Office which Mr. Scott was running along with the store. All goods had to be brought by wagon from Weimar to keep the store stocked. Cotton was taken to the Railhead there. When cotton failed to make a living, people up and sold. The store was torn down and the lumber used to build a house in Weimar for the Shimeks.

The land that Mr. Tom Shimek paid $14 an acre sold the other day for $2000. They have built a new house not 500 yards from where the old store once stood. Do you want to guess where they are from?

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Vox Populi

In the late 1840's, Dr. Lawrence Augustine Washington, Jr. , his wife and four children moved from western Virginia to Colorado County, Texas. He was the son of Lawrence Augustine Washington, and the grandson of Col. Samuel Washington, who served in the Virginia Line during the Revolution. Colonel Washington was the younger brother of George Washington, the first president of the United States.

Dr. Washington, a large land owner with 26 slaves, and his family lived about 14 miles south of Columbus near the later village of Vox Populi for almost 20 years. During the nearly 20 years that Lawrence Washington lived in Colorado County, he acquired much land and many city lots in the town of Columbus.

Lawrence A. Washington was appointed U. S. postmaster of the Skull Creek post office December 14, 1853 and served until April 20, 1857; this was before Vox Populi had a post office. At the close of the War Between the States with his slaves freed and his fortune sadly depleted, Dr. Washington decided to drive his cattle to California. Travel was difficult and money was scarce so Dr. Washington left his library and some of his relics with his friend Dr. John H. Bowers. (Mary E. Hopkins [Mrs. James G.] has a set of Washington books, and Thurman West has a shaving mirror that had belonged to George Washington.) The Washingtons never reached California but settled for a while in Kansas and later moved to Denison, Texas, where he died August 10, 1883.

VOX POPULI - U. S. POSTMASTERS

Phoebe Barnett May 11, 1889
Lewellyn M. Jones March 18, 1886
John F. Frnka January 14, 1898
Florian Frnka August 28, 1899
John Fr. Frnka June 12, 1900
Walter R. Abell February 27, 1901
John F. Frnka September 12, 1901
Frances Frnka August 26, 1903

Frances Frnka, who received her commission August 26, 1903, was in all probability the youngest postmistress in Texas, and perhaps in the United States.

Walter C. Jones, the son of William J. Jones, was born in Colorado County in 1850. In 1880, he returned to Colorado County and bought land at Vox Populi. His brother L. M. Jones, had the first store there early in the 1880's. There was also a cotton gin at Vox Populi at one time. In February, 1893, the Eagle Lake Canoe stated that there had been over 100 new families moved into the Vox Populi section in the past few months, and that section of the county was settling fast. Some of the early families were: Jones, Labays, Engbrocks, Gyllenbands, Dornaks, Duncans, and many, many more.

According to Bradstreet's Commercial Reports Texas in 1894 Vox Populi has the following stores:

Engbrock & Son General Store
L. M. Jones General Store

After Garwood was established in 1901, Vox Populi began to decline, until today, it is just another of Colorado County's ghost towns.

 

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Weimar

The town of Weimar is situated in the western part of Colorado County, one mile from the Fayette County line, about midway between San Antonio and Houston along the Old Spanish trail. It has an elevation of 420 feet above sea level.

It is in the southwest two blocks of the H. Austin League Survey, land granted to Henry Austin by the Spanish government on May 31, 1831. On April 27, 1857, Henry Austin deeded the land to his son Edward T. Austin who sold it to D. W. Jackson on January 12, 1865. Weimar was an offspring of the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway. On April 22, 1873, an agreement was reached between Colonel Thomas W. Peirce, president of the railroad, and D. W. Jackson to establish a depot. Railway service was started October 3, 1873. The City of Weimar was incorporated July 21, 1875.

Mr. William Herndon bought the first lot in August, 1873, and placed upon it a storehouse which he moved from Content, then a flourishing little village a few miles south of Weimar.

Thomas M. Insall bought and developed a city block on the south side of the one street along the new railroad tracks. With a partner, Otto Goeth, be built a two-story structure which housed the Opera House Saloon on the street level. On the second level was a beautiful auditorium with a fine stage where grand balls, vaudeville shows and operas were held.

One arm of the famous Chisholm Trail originated near Weimar. Thomas Insall drove thousands of head of cattle up the trail. Tom's cousin, Henry Insall, was City Marshall from 1899 until his death in 1917.

Today, fine farms and ranches dot the surroundings of Weimar which contribute to its economy.

In 1875, two small hotels were erected on the south side, the St. James Hotel and Commercial Hotel (near the RR). Later they were torn down to make way for a brick storehouse. Then appeared the first Jackson Hotel. The Jackson burned and on the same site a second Jackson Hotel was erected. In line of progress, the Jackson gave way to the larger and modern San Jacinto hotel. Today it has become the Weimar Country Inn.

By 1885, Weimar had a population of 1500 and was dubbed "The Prairie City".

When the town was incorporated in 1875, it became a banking town with an opera house and many businesses. Trees were planted by the citizens to beautify this new little town. Crape Myrtle trees were later planted around the town to further beautify it.

In the early days, the inhabitants marketed immense quantities of cotton, corn, potatoes, onions, cucumbers, melons, poultry and dairy products. Cattle ranching has replaced the cotton farming of yesteryear; however, poultry and dairy products continue in the market place.

Weimar's heritage rests with the early settlers who came to make new homes in area communities of Borden, Holman, New Bielau, Osage and Oakland. They planted deep roots for all time and have played a vital part in Weimar's past and continue to be equally as important in her future.

In 1911, there were 5 churches (today there are 8), several fraternal organizations, and a modern two-story six room brick school building. Through the years the school had been up-dated and more buildings added. This facility became outdated, and in August, 1984, students moved into a new High School with all the most modern facilities for classroom and athletics.

A new bank building has been constructed to house the Hill Bank and Trust Company. Also, the First State Bank has recently been redecorated. Colorado County Savings and Loan has opened a branch in Weimar. New industries have come to Weimar and a new modern hospital is on the drawing board.

There is plenty of recreation for the folks of Weimar and their friends. It has a beautiful golf course and club house, a municipal swimming pool, three lighted baseball fields, tennis courts and two dance clubs.

From its beginning in 1873 to the present day, Weimar has steadily grown and will continue to be on the move. "A little town with big opportunities."

 

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