Communities & Settlements
following information was taken from "The New Handbook of Texas," published in
1996 by the Texas State Historical Society. This six volume edition is located
in all San Antonio libraries and most major libraries throughout Texas.
BENNETT, TEXAS, also known as Bennett Settlement and Hamlin, was on the Leona River a half mile west of the intersection of Interstate Highway 35 and the Frio River in southwest Frio County. The settlement was named for one of the community's first settlers, Hamilton Bennett, who came to the area in 1876. Between 1876 and 1877 an irrigation project consisting of a dam, water wells, and a canal system, funded by the state of Texas with a large land grant, was brought near completion in Bennett before a flood of the Leona River destroyed the dam. According to local tradition the dam was never rebuilt because the volume of water in the river dropped. Between 1878 and 1881 a post office by the name of Hamlin operated in the community. Although the community disappeared from maps after 1885, local people continued to refer to the site as Bennett or Bennett Settlement. Around 1908 a well was drilled at the site that provided continuous irrigation water for local farmers as late as 1990. The site of Bennett was within the Cory and McWilliams Ranch in 1936. Remains of the canal and several wells were said to be visible aboveground as late as 1971.
Bibliography: Mrs. W. A. Roberts, "Frio County Has a Colorful History," Frontier Times, June 1936. Ruben E. Ochoa
Bigfoot is at the intersection of Farm roads 462 and 472, eighteen miles northeast of Pearsall in northeastern Frio County. The site was settled about 1865 and during its early years was known as Connally’s Store, for Bob Connally. D.T. Winters established a gin and mill there by 1880. When James Connally secured a post office for the community in 1883, he named it Bigfoot, for William A.A. (Bigfoot) Wallace, a resident of the community. A Baptist church was organized there in the 1880s, and by 1890 Bigfoot had a general store and an estimated population of twenty-five. During the 1890s citizen opened a public school, which in 1907 had three teachers and 105 pupils. The community had a population of 146 in 1900, but much of the town’s business section was burned in 1903. Bigfoot’s population fell to an estimated 100 by the 1930s, and in the 1940s the community had a church, a school, a row of five businesses, and a number of scattered dwellings. The Bigfoot school consolidated with that of Devine in 1949. With the development in the 1950s of the Bigfoot oilfield to the south, the community grew, and in 1964 it had a population of 210, three churches, two businesses, and a number of dwellings. During the 1970s its population diminished again, and was estimated at seventy-five from 1972 to 1992. In the 1980s Bigfoot still had the post office, two businesses, and three churches. The Bigfoot Wallace museum is in the community.
See also Small Town History (many photos)
Bishop Hollow, TEXAS was a frontier settlement on the Frio River seven miles southwest of the site of present Pearsall in central Frio County. A post office was established in the community in 1878 and called Ireland; it was discontinued in 1881 and moved to the newly established railroad town of Pearsall. According to county sources the site was subsequently known as Bishop Hollow. In 1900 a local school by the name of Bishop had twenty-four students taught by one teacher. Bishop Hollow does not appear on twentieth-century maps.
Bibliography: Mrs. W. A. Roberts, "Frio County Has a Colorful History," Frontier Times, June 1936. Ruben E. Ochoa
Brummet, Texas also known as Brummet Settlement, was a frontier community on Siestadero Creek four miles northeast of Bigfoot in the extreme northeast corner of Frio County. Early accounts indicate that the settlement was located between the Old Fort Ewell Road and the Old Laredo Road. It is believed to be the first settlement in Frio County; the oldest legible gravestone in the Brummet Cemetery dates back to 1860. Brummet Settlement may have been the home of Joseph W. Gardner qv or members of his immediate family in the late 1850s. A school by the name of Centerville operated in the area in 1929. In 1989 the Brummet Cemetery was all that remained.
Buckhorn, Texas was a frontier community a half mile north of what is now Farm Road 1582 and eight miles southeast of Pearsall in southeast central Frio County. In 1913 Frio County school trustees formed a 3,200-acre school district in the southeastern part of the county. The eight-grade school at Buckhorn served the western half of this district, and the school at Shallow Wells its eastern half. Later the school district was parceled into 300-acre farms. Purchasers of the farms joined the families in the area to form the nucleus of Buckhorn. Longtime resident R. F. Foster provided three acres near the school as a site for a Methodist church. By 1929 three dwellings were near the church and school, and the site was surrounded by numerous farms. All that remained of Buckhorn in 1948 was a cemetery and a few dwellings. In 1964 only its cemetery remained. During the early 1990s several descendants of Foster and of John Wesley Devilbiss lived in the area.
Cibolo, Texas was near Dry Cibolo Creek at a site immediately north of present Farm Road 85 and seven miles west of Dilley in southwest Frio County. Around 1920 a schoolhouse was constructed in Cibolo; this school was one of the first in Frio County to offer an eleven-grade curriculum. By 1929 the community had two schools and several dwellings. Only one school operated in Cibolo by 1936. In 1974 three dwellings remained in the community, and by 1989 Cibolo appears to have been abandoned.
Covey_Chapel, Texas, also known as Ratama and as St. Mary's, is on Farm Road 85 some nine miles west of Dilley in far southwestern Frio County. The community was the site of brush arbor meetings held by a Reverend Roberts who arrived on horseback. The cemetery and St. Mary's Church were started at the site in 1909 and 1916, respectively, on land donated by local resident Bernard Brown. In 1929 the community had a church and scattered dwellings. By 1936 the name of the community was Ratama; it had a church, two cemeteries, one business, and about ten dwellings. In 1947 St. Mary's Church was destroyed by a storm, and Masses were then held in the homes of Wesley Carroll and Hubert Dunn. By 1949 the community was known as Covey Chapel and as St. Mary's. In 1950 the newly rebuilt St. Mary's Church was again the religious center of the community. In 1974 very few dwellings remained around the church and cemetery. The Covey Chapel Cemetery and the St. Mary's Church and Cemetery were at the site in 1989.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Frio County, Texas: A History (Pearsall, Texas: Frio Pioneer Jail Museum Association, 1979). Vertical Files, Pearsall Public Library, Pearsall, Texas. Ruben E. Ochoa
The following came from "A History of La Salle County", Annette Martin Ludeman, Nortex Press, 1975, p153.
Dr. John Van Epps Covey was born in 1821 in Fenny, Madison County, New York. He served as the pastor of the Cotulla Baptist Church from 1890-98 and then again in 1894-96. Rev. Covey came to Texas in 1853, settling in the town of Palestine. For about two years he taught a very flourishing school for boys and also served as pastor of the Baptist Church there. It is said that Dr. Covey had the ability to inspire young men with noble aspirations and at the same time maintain firm discipline, which made him an outstanding teacher. Rev. Covey also preached several years and taught in Lavaca County then afterwards at Concrete and later at Tilden. After Dr. Covey left Tilden he established a church located ten miles west of Dilley, known as Covey Chapel. This church under his ministry built a nice frame building. After the death of his son-in-law, Woodlief Thomas, Rev. Covey came to Cotulla to live with his widowed daughter. Janie Covey Thomas. Rev. Covey died in Cotulla January 13, 1898, and is buried in the old section of the Cotulla Cemetery. His last resting place, one lonely grave in a small fenced plot, near the Reed family plot where his grandson Covey Thomas is buried.
References: "Flowers and Fruits of the Wilderness" Chapter XXX by Z.N. Morrel & "Old McMullen College" by McMullen County Historical Society.
Derby is on the Missouri Pacific line at the intersection of IH35 and Farm Road 1583, nine miles southwest of Pearsall in south central Frio County. Englishman John Bennett, an engineer for the International-Great Northern Railroad moved to the site in 1879 and helped manage the construction of the I-GN extension through Lenore from Melon to the Mexican border in 1882-83. In 1882 a post office called Lenore was established in the developing community. The post office and a rail depot at the site of lands owned by Bennett were eventually renamed Derby in honor of his English birthplace. In 1883 Bennett constructed a dam, known as Derby Dam, in the area, and shortly thereafter he had a town surveyed into lots, including lots for a church and a school. Sometime before 1885 he expanded the depot with a spur for loading vegetables and changed the name of the community to Otley, in honor of his wife's home in England. By 1906 the community was again called Derby and had several schools with a total of three teachers and fifty-five students. Derby was an emerging farming center in 1935. Eight large artesian wells in the community were used to irrigate fields of cotton, as well as onions, spinach, carrots, beets, and a variety of other vegetables. In 1936 the community had an estimated population of fifty, three businesses, and a church. No businesses were reported in Derby 1971, though its population remained an estimated fifty. In the early 1990s its population was still reported as fifty and the Derby Cemetery was located southeast of the town site.
Dilley, Texas is on the Missouri Pacific Railroad and IH35 sixteen miles southeast of Pearsall in far southern Frio County. The community was originally called Darlington, after a local landowner who settled in the area in the mid-1860s. The settlement was established on the International-Great Northern Railroad from San Antonio to Mexico, completed during the early 1880s. At the time Darlington had a general store and several dwellings. The community was sometimes called Ford because of a nearby Frio River crossing of an old Spanish trail, known as Rocky Ford. The 1-GN built its first railroad depot, siding, and stock pen near the crossing.
Paul and Alex Meerscheidt of San Antonio purchased and platted land surrounding the railroad depot and laid out a town with the assistance of a local rancher, W.D. Harris. The name of the community was changed to Dilley in honor of George M. Dilley, an official of the railroad. There is also evidence to suggest that the name may have been derived from that of an early settler in the area named Dillahunty. A Darlington post office had been established in 1885. In 1890 Jim McAllister laid the first telegraph line in Frio County, from San Antonio to Darlington, which that year had an estimated population of fity and a general store owned by J.N. Harris. The post office was named Darlington at least until 1892. By 1896 the community was official called Dilley and had an estimated population of fifty. By 1900 the community supported two churches and a one-teacher school with fifty-five students. In 1906 the school had eighty-seven students and two teachers. Dilley was incorporated in 1912.
By 1914 the town had an estimated 1,000 residents, Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches, the Dilley State Bank, a weekly newspaper, a cotton gin, seven general stores, and two hotels. Dilley had become a shipping center for cattle, vegetables, and fruits. Editor James Howerton established the Dilley Herald in 1923. The second Macadamized highway in Frio County was completed from Dilley to Eagle Pass in 1928. By 1929 Dilley had an estimated population of 1,600. The town had the county’s sole surviving cotton gin sometime in the 1930s, after the destruction of the industry by boll weevil and cotton fleahopper infestation. Although the population of the community had dropped to an estimated 929 in 1936, it rebounded by 1940 to an estimated 1,244.
Sometime in the late 1940s the Dilley Independent School District was consolidated with the Millet school district of LaSalle County. As a result of the fund-raising efforts of Dilley State Bank president F.J. Avant and a nonprofit organization made up of more than 100 residents, a new hospital was constructed in 1950. In 1965 Dilley had a peanut-drying plant and a clinic and a rest home, as well as a large statue of a watermelon. The population rose steadily during the 1950s and 1960s, to an estimated 2,318 by 1967. At the time Dilley was the county’s second largest town and a commercial shipping point for peanuts, watermelon, and cattle. By 1987 Dilley had an estimated population of 2,773 and fifty-one business operations. Oil exploration in the region was encouraged by a horizontal-drilling technology developed in the late 1980s. In 1990 Dilley was chosen as the site for a new 1,000-bed state prison. The population in 1990 was 2,632.
Divot is at the intersection of Farm roads 1583 and 117, nine miles northwest of Dilley in southwest Frio County. It was originally known as Leona Settlement because of its location near the Leona River. Evidence suggest that the earliest school in the area, Leona School, was a schoolhouse on wheels. Records from 1906 show eighty-nine students and three teachers there. J.J. King established a store at the site in 1908 and the name of the community was changed to Kingsville. Upon application for a post office in 1910, a new name had to be chosen, and Pivot was selected because the settlement was at a crossroads. But through a mistake, the name Divot was assigned.
By 1914 King owned a general store and was still postmaster. A cotton gin was constructed near the store around this time. The population of Divot remained steady at ten throughout the 1920s, and by 1929 the community comprised a school and scattered dwellings. In 1946 the population was estimated at thirty-five: the Leona school had been annexed to the Dilley Independent School District. In 1948 two schools and three businesses were in operation in the community. In 1971 the population was twenty-eight. By 1974 Divot had two churches (one abandoned) and scattered buildings. In 1990 the community consisted of a well-kept Catholic Church, five family dwellings, and an abandoned red brick schoolhouse.
Frio Town, originally known as Frio City, was a frontier community off Farm Road 140 immediately south of the Presidio Crossing of the Frio River, sixteen miles northwest of Pearsall in northwest Frio County. The Presidio Crossing, on the Old San Antonio Road was so named because numerous cannonballs, swords, and sabers were found there. Juan de Ugalde in the eighteenth century, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna in 1836, and Adrian Woll in 1842 are thought to have used the crossing.
The town was laid out by A.L. Odin in 1871. The first mail was delivered to the community on horseback from Benton City; later it arrived from San Antonio by stage. Frio City became the first county seat of Frio County in 1871. Builder I.J.W. Edwards used cypress shingles carted from Leakey to complete the first courthouse in January 1872. The same year a stone jail was constructed; in time it housed such famous personages as Sam Bass, Jesse and Frank James, and William Sydney Porter. The high cost of obtaining building materials from outside led to the establishment of a cypress-shingle mill, brick factory, and limekiln in the community.
A Frio City post office was established in 1872. I.J.W. Edwards was the first postmaster and first merchant. The county’s first school was in a private home. A local Masonic lodge was established during the 1870s. The courthouse burned in 1877, and a new two-story native stone building was constructed with the financial assistance of local resident W.J. Slaughter; it reportedly had an ornate walnut staircase. Comanche Indian raids in the mid-1870s triggered a call for the Texas Rangers and caused many frightened settlers to seek refuge in town. The last Indian foray in the area occurred during the spring of 1877.
Frio City was a "cowboy capital" and outpost cultural center during the 1870s. Estimates of its population in the early 1880s reach as high as 1,500. Evangelist John Wesley DeVilbiss and Andrew Jackson Potter preached in the area; the Rio Grande Baptist Association was organized at the courthouse in 1880. That year the International Great Northern Railroad was extended through Frio County and missed Frio City. In the summer of 1881 Pearsall was established on the route, after which a general exodus from Frio City to Pearsall ensued. In 1883 Pearsall became the county seat, and in 1886 the name of Frio City was changed to Frio Town. The courthouse purchased in1884 by W. Yancey Kilgore. It subsequently housed a general store, the post office, and in 1884 Frio Academy.
By 1890 the population was estimated at 100. In 1906 seventeen pupils atte3nded the two-teacher Frio Academy. By 1914 Frio Town had telephone connections, a general store, and six cattle breeders. In 1929 the community comprised the school and five dwellings. The old courthouse was the site of the Rio Grande Baptist Association’s fiftieth anniversary celebration in June 1930. By 1953 Mrs. A.C. Roberts most of the structures of the generally abandoned town site, including the courthouse and roofless jailhouse. The population of Frio Town remained constant at an estimated twenty throughout the 1960s and increased to forty-nine in 1969. By 1990 all that remained was the Frio Town Cemetery on Farm Road 140 and the largely intact remains of the original courthouse and jail on the Roberts Ranch.
Goldfinch is at the southern terminus of Farm Road 472, fifteen miles east of Pearsall in eastern Frio County. It was probably established in the 1880s and is said to have been named by post office officials when a post office was applied for in 1916 or 1920. Goldfinch had a rural school between 1920 and 1928, and in 1929 it consisted of six dwellings. In 1932 Goldfinch resident J.C. Nations was reported to have produced 1,050 gallons of ribbon cane syrup. During the mid-1930s Goldfinch consisted of the post office, run at that time by a Mrs. Coxx, and a general store across the street, run by Mrs. Frankie Nations. By 1948 the community had two businesses and three dwellings, surrounded by several farms. By 1953 Goldfinch reported no businesses. Its population was estimated at fifteen from the mid-1920s to the 1960s, and by 1971 the number of residents had increased to an estimated thirty-five. The 1982 topographic map of the area showed at least eight dwellings at Goldfinch. The 1990 population was thirty-five.
Howard Lake, Texas was a frontier community on Howard Lake, a natural lake, twelve miles east of Pearsall in east central Frio County. A significant portion of the land near Howard Lake was at one time granted to Henri Castro. In 1874 Blanchette's general store and Brown's butcher shop were operating in the Howard Lake community. People journeying from Pearsall to San Antonio in the 1880s often traveled past the lake. According to local tradition, a cattle trail that crisscrossed this San Antonio route was one of the original roads across Frio County; cattle drivers would camp at the lakeshore, often hiding their gold caches in the water as a precaution against raids by Indians or Mexican bandits. In 1884 the Frio County Commissioners Court designated Howard Lake as School District No. 6. In 1907 the one-teacher Howard Lake community school was attended by nineteen students. The Howard Lake community appears to have been abandoned by 1929.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Historic Frio County, 1871-1971 (Pearsall, Texas: Frio County Centennial Corporation, 1971). Frances Cox Wood, Using the Social and Historical Heritage of Pearsall, Texas, in Teaching Fourth Grade Children (M.A. thesis, Southwest Texas State Teachers College, 1953).
Keystone, Texas was a farm and ranch community several miles southeast of the intersection of Buckhorn Creek and Farm Road 140 and seven miles southeast of Pearsall in east central Frio County. A rural school was established in the community around 1900; the schoolhouse was also used for a community center and for religious gatherings. School records for 1906 show twenty-seven students attending the one-teacher Keystone school. A large reservoir supported irrigation farming in the area in the 1920s; farm laborers from Mexico worked the fields surrounding Keystone and were housed in small colonias in what local sources described as a plantation-like arrangement. The Keystone school was consolidated with those of Pearsall in the mid-1920s. Although the school remained active in 1929, the community appears to have been largely abandoned. By 1936 the Keystone School was inactive, though several farms still remained in the area.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Frio County, Texas: A History (Pearsall, Texas: Frio Pioneer Jail Museum Association, 1979).
MARTIN, TEXAS was a frontier settlement on Todos Santos Creek at Todos Santos Lake near the Leona River, fifteen miles northwest of Dilley in southwestern Frio County. Early accounts place the lake on the old road from Pearsall. The settlement was probably named for the Martins, who were among the earliest settlers of the community. The area was probably settled in the mid-1860s and attracted cattlemen and horse traders. Mustangs roamed the area in great numbers at that time. Todos Santos Lake, described as 1Ĺ miles long and sixty feet wide, became a much-used watering hole for thousands of longhorn cattle and mustangs. At one time a saloon operated at the lake site. Sometime in the 1880s a rural school called Todos Santos was established in the community. Early settlers included the Odens, Martins, Franks, Hays, Englishes, Burlesons, and Parks. At one time a cemetery existed in the community above the site of the Frio State Park and near the old Martin Ranch; several of the early settlers were buried there.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Florence Fenley, Old Timers of Southwest Texas (Uvalde, Texas: Hornby, 1957). Mrs. W. A. Roberts, "Frio County Has a Colorful History," Frontier Times, June 1936. Vertical Files, Pearsall Public Library, Pearsall, Texas (Frio County). Ruben E. Ochoa
Melon, (Mellon) was a farm community on the Missouri Pacific line and IH 35 five miles southwest of Pearsall in central Frio County. The community was named for the substantial quantity of watermelon grown in the area. A post office called Mellon was established in 1906; the spelling was changed to Melon in 1909. By 1914 Melon had telephone service, two general stores, a cotton gin, and an estimated fifty inhabitants. From the 1920s into the 1940s the population was an estimated 100. In 1935 the Pearsall Leader reported that 200 rail cars with watermelons, spinach, onions, and mixed vegetables had recently been shipped from Melon. By 1936 oil drilling operations in the area had led to the construction of loading racks at Melon and two 55,000-gallon oil tanks nearby. The post office was discontinued in the early 1940s. In 1946 the community had an estimated population of 100, a church, and three businesses. By 1964 Melon appears to have been abandoned except for a few scattered buildings and several operating oil wells. In 1982 the site had six dry ponds and several buildings. By 1989 nothing remained.
Miguel (sometimes spelled Miguiel) is a farming and stock-raising community two miles southeast of the intersection of Farm roads 472 and 140 in far east central Frio County. A post office operated in the community from 1880 through 1924, though the office appears to have closed for a time around 1890. By 1884 Miguel had an estimated population of fifty. In 1906 it had two schools, with a total of two teachers and eighty-three students. The community of fifty had telephone service, three general stores, and a cotton gin by 1914. In 1929 it consisted of a church and a school surrounded by several dwellings. Miguel had a cemetery and two schools in 1948, one school was for non-white students. In 1989 the community still had a school and a cemetery.
Moore is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 81 and Farm Road 462 on the Missouri Pacific Railroad, thirteen miles northeast of Pearsall in north central Frio County. It is probably named for pioneer R.W. (Mustang) Moore, who after and Indian raid in 1861, was found mortally wounded on the front porch of his cabin on Moore Hollow Creek, immediately west of the site of the present town. Tradition has it, however, that the community is named after an episode in which a weary, well-dressed train traveler arrive at the local depot and exclaimed that he could take "no more" of Texas, then went to a nearby ginyard and hanged himself. August Obets and his wife Louise (Rihn) of Castroville moved to Frio County in 1870, chose a site at Moore Hollow Creek in 1874, built a grass-covered house there, and became Moore Hollow’s first permanent settlers. The couple constructed the community’s first frame house in 1876. Children in the growing community attended school in Tehuacana until J.B. Harkness built a school in Moore Hollow in 1881; twenty-three students attended school that year. In August 1881 Mary Rihn sold fifty acres to R.S. Hayes as a town site for Moore Hollow. Hayes granted right-of-way to the International-Great Northern Railroad on February 11, 1882, and the remainder of the property to the New York and Texas Land Company, land operators of the I-GN. The name of the community was changed to Moore Hollow Station when the site became a station on the railroad. The post office opened in 1882 with I.E. Nelson as the first postmaster, the same year C.J.W. Edwards opened a general store and John McMahon started a Masonic lodge. By 1884 Moore’s Station had become a shipping point for wool; that year the settlement had an estimated population of fifty, a hotel, a saloon, and two general stores. Facilities of the Moore Baptist Church, organized in 1888, were utilized by circuit-riders during brush-arbor meetings held at nearby Bailey Lake. In the 1889-1890 school year ninety pupils attended Moore’s Station Community School No. 9. By 1890 Moore’s Station had an estimated population of 100. The name of the community was changed to Moore Station in 1892 and finally to Moore in 1897.
Between 1900 and 1910 three churches, the First National Bank, the Moore Hotel, two drugstores, and a cotton gin were added to the community. A yellow fever epidemic in 1903 caused at least twelve deaths. The disease was treated by residents with a tea made from watermelon seeds, believed to have been introduced Mexican laborers attracted to the region by an exceptional cotton crop that year. School records of 1907 report seventy pupils and two teachers in the community. With an estimated population of 300 in 1910, Moore was one of the largest towns between Laredo and San Antonio and the railroad terminus for a significant cotton industry in the area. The community’s first Mexican school was established in 1913 and housed in Jesus Rodriguez Dance Hall. By 1914 Moore had telephone connections and Baptist, Catholic, and Methodist churches. Young men from local families, including the Obetses, Crains, and Conovers, were entertained at the local high school before leaving for military duty during World War I. Businesses operating in the community before 1920 included the Kellam Hotel, Charley Bartlett’s Drug Store, Mrs. Nancy Winter’s Rooming House, and W.H. Davidson’s general store. Moore declined significantly during the 1920s and early 1930s when the boll weevil infested the region. Significant declines in the wool market and the loss of jobs accompanying a regional change from dry-land farming to ranching also contributed to community’s decline during this period. In 1947 two churches, a school, six stores, and an estimated population of 350 were reported in the community. Moore School was absorbed by the Pearsall system in 1950. That year Moore had an estimated population of 180 and six businesses. In 1964 the community had three churches and one school surrounded by numerous dwellings. The population of Moore from the 1970s to 1990 was estimated at 230. In 1989 the community had a post office, a church, one school, and four businesses.
Nueva JŠen, in the province of Coahuila, was a short-lived Spanish villa located on the Old San Antonio Road crossing of the Frio River in what is now northwestern Frio County. The settlement, established by Coahuila governor Manuel Antonio Cordero and named after the province of JŠen in Spain, was intended to be the westernmost of several new Spanish settlements along the road east of the Rio Grande. It was established sometime in 1805 but abandoned shortly thereafter due to the lack of an adequate water supply. There is evidence of an unsuccessful attempt by Texas authorities to resurrect the settlement sometime after its abandonment.
Orelia is a farm and ranch community located on Mustang Creek off a graded road one mile northeast of Farm Road 1582 and twenty miles east of Dilley in far southeast Frio County. A post office was established in the community in 1900; Collin DeVilbiss was postmaster. Some of the earliest families in the area were the Applewhites and Sharps. An eight-grade rural school was established sometime in the early 1920s; the schoolhouse served as a community and religious center. In 1929 the community had severall dwellings near the school. That number had more than doubled by 1948, when two bladed earth roads met at Orelia. Only a few dwellings remained in 1969. By 1989 Orelia had only a few scattered dwellings and a community center.
Pearsall, Texas the county seat of Frio County, is on IH 35 and the Missouri Pacific Railroad fifty-five miles southeast of San Antonio in the central part of the county. In the 1870s wagon trains stopped at a well on a large sheep ranch when they traveled the road from Frio Town to Pleasanton; this well was known as Waggoner’s (Wagner’s) Well.
On February 6, 1882, the International-Great Northern Railroad gained control of 2,000 acres of land around the well. An affiliate, the New York and Texas Land Company allowed them to circumvent Texas laws limiting railroad ownership of land, and, on February 15, 1882, they platted the town site of Pearsall, named after the vice president of the railroad, Thomas W. Pearsall, east of the newly laid railroad tracks opposite Waggoner’s Well.
A general exodus of people and businesses from Frio Town ensued, and a tent community grew up around the railroad depot. Prospective buyers of town lots arrived on advertised train tours from San Antonio. By 1884 Pearsall was the new county seat of Frio County and had 700 residents, twenty businesses, three hotels, three churches, a district school, and a weekly newspaper known as the Pearsall News.
By 1890, despite a fire that devastated most of its downtown district, Pearsall, had an estimated population 1,000, Methodist, Baptist, and Christian churches, a college called Frio College headed by B.B. Hendricks, two newspapers (the Sun and the News), a corn mill, and a cotton gin. In the early 1890s the mercantile block in downtown Pearsall, established by the partnership of C.H. Beever and George Hindes, became one of the largest general merchandise operations between San Antonio and Laredo.
In 1907 Hindes helped organize the Frio County Oil Company of Pearsall, and Beever helped organize the Pearsall Artesian Well Company, which provided the community with its first electric service. The Pearsall People’s State Bank was organized in 1908. The city incorporated with a mayor-council form of city government in 1909, and the Pearsall Water, Ice and Electric Company was organized in 1910. By 1914 Pearsall had an estimated population of 2,000, a variety of churches, telephone connections, ten large mercantile establishments, the Pearsall National Bank, two drugstores, four confectioneries, two barbershops, an automobile garage, a photographer, two newspapers, two millinery stores, three hotels, three cotton gins, a cottonseed oil mill, a wholesale grain store, an electric plant, the Laurel Opera House (with a seating capacity of 500 and more than seventy-five electric lights), a bakery and restaurant, two livery barns, a twenty-seven piece concert band, and several social clubs. In 1936 Pearsall had an estimated population of 2,536 and forty-one businesses.
Oil was discovered in the 1930s, natural gas was introduced in 1945 and many of Pearsall’s avenues were paved in 1947. The town had an estimated population of 4,500 and eighty businesses by 1949; in 1970 it had an estimated population of 5,309 and 128 businesses. The Frio Pioneer Jail Museum , housed in the original county jail built in 1884, was formally dedicated in ceremonies addressed by United Sates Representative Henry B. Gonzalez and Ollie Taylor, woman sheriff of Frio County, on July 3, 1976. In 1980 Pearsall had an estimated population of 6,453 and 192 business operations. In 1990 the estimated population was 9,355, and Pearsall had six public schools, a student enrollment of 2,400, thirteen churches representing ten denominations, and a public library housing over 23,000 volumes. The surrounding county is a prime hunting location, and Pearsall holds annual festivities including a Wild Game Dinner. In the early 1990s the town experienced an oil boom led by Oryx Energy, which began drilling in the Pearsall field in September 1989. Increased exploration contributed to the revitalization of Pearsall’s economy.
See also Small Town History (many photos)
Sand Hollow, Texas, a farming and stock-raising community, was near Sand Hollow Creek seven miles northeast of Pearsall in east central Frio County. The Sand Hollow school was constructed sometime around 1900, and in 1906 it had twenty-six students and one teacher. The schoolhouse also served as the community center and as a site for religious gatherings. In 1929 the school and a community cemetery were still in the area, and in 1948 the Sand Hollow community had the cemetery site surrounded by a dozen or so farms. The cemetery was shown on a 1989 map, but by that time the community appears to have been abandoned. The Sand Hollow Road to the cemetery runs east off Farm Road 2779.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Mrs. W. A. Roberts, "Frio County Has a Colorful History," Frontier Times, June 1936. Ruben E. Ochoa
Schattel, west of Farm Road 472 and six miles south of Bigfoot in northeastern Frio County, received a post office in 1924. The community was named for San Antonian S.H. Schattell, who attempted to settle a colony of Bohemian farmers in the area about 1925. In 1929 the community included a school and some five dwellings, and by 1928 it had three businesses and an estimated population of fifty. The Schattel school district was consolidated with those of Bigfoot and Pearsall in 1929. Schattel reported one business and 130 residents in 1970; it continued to report that population level in 1990, when it also had a town hall.
Tehuacana, also known as Tehuacana Settlement, was a frontier community on Tehuacana Creek three miles west of Farm Road 462 in north central Frio County. The original settlers arrived from Hondo Canyon in Bandera County around 1870 and included the Adcocks, the Wisdoms, John Jay and Elizabeth Kilgore, and stockmen John Rowland, Perry Wilson, Levi Wilson, Albert Warren Austin, Josiah Foster, and their families. A schoolhouse, which also served as the community center and church, was constructed in 1872, and soon thereafter a music room was added by Perry Wilson. Around 1873 several deaths in the community were attributed to smallpox believed to have been introduced by a visiting schoolgirl. A Methodist Episcopal church was established in the home of Perry and Levi Wilson in 1875, and in the early 1880s a gristmill and blacksmith shop were opened in the community. Around 1884 at least eight people were killed by a second severe smallpox epidemic referred to as the Plague and believed to have been introduced by the church pastor after a visit to San Antonio. Local tradition suggests that the second smallpox epidemic led to the abandonment of the community. The Tehuacana cemetery was still shown on the 1989 county highway map.
Note: I could not locate any informtion on the community of Las Flores which is located west of Orelia.
TXGenWeb, Frio County - Communities & Settlements updated on 03/04/2006
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