ABBOTT, TEXAS. Abbott is a half mile east of Interstate Highway 35 and ten miles south of Hillsboro in south central Hill County. It was founded as a railroad town on the Missouri, Kansas and Texas line in 1881 and named for Jo Abbott. An Abbott post office was established in 1882 and served the town until 1928. The United Methodist church was organized in 1883 by Rev. G. W. Swofford, pastor of the Hillsboro Circuit. A sanctuary was built in 1884 and a parsonage in 1885 on land that W. W. Treadwell donated. In the 1890s cotton was a major crop in the area around Abbott. During that decade two cotton gins, a gristmill, and more than fifteen other businesses were in operation in the community. Early establishments included general stores, doctors' offices, a drugstore, barbershops, two hotels, two blacksmith shops, a photographer's studio, a newspaper, and a bank. The town had three churches.
Abbott suffered disastrous fires in 1897, 1903, and 1904 and was rebuilt after each. Electricity came in 1913 with the building of an interurban railway by the Southern Traction Company (see ELECTRIC INTERURBAN RAILWAYS). The Katy and the interurban transported passengers as well as goods and products. The community was incorporated in 1916 with C. W. Thompson as mayor and A. R. Crocker and W. R. Hammonds as commissioners. In 1920 the highway was built through the middle of town parallel to the Katy and the interurban. Abbott declined as a result of the Great Depression, however, and by 1932 the train stopped only when flagged. Czech farmers came and bought much of the rich black farmland of the area. The first Czechs had come as early as 1870 and have maintained a Catholic parish in the town.
The local school system began in 1885 or 1886 with an enrollment of over 140 pupils. In 1927–28 the school was accredited through the eleventh grade, and the 1930 enrollment was 240. As smaller schools were consolidated with Abbott, local enrollment increased to over 500 in the late 1930s and early 1940s. L. C. McKamie served twenty nonconsecutive years as superintendent between 1926 and 1948.
The population of Abbott was 156 in 1890 and grew to a high point of 713 by 1914. It had declined to 264 by 1941. In 1989 the town had 364 residents, a post office, a cotton gin, three churches, and a school with 192 students. A local cave, Hooker Cave, on nearby Old Carr Ranch, is explored by many avid spelunkers and is the subject of numerous local legends. More than 2,000 people attended a day-long celebration of the centennial of Abbott in 1981. Country music star Willie Nelson is from Abbott. In 1990 the population was 314. The population declined to 300 in 2000.
Abbott Centennial Planning Committee, Abbott, Texas, 1881–1981: A History (Belton, Texas: Centex, 1981). Ellis Bailey, A History of Hill County, Texas, 1838–1965 (Waco: Texian Press, 1966). Hill County Historical Commission, A History of Hill County, Texas, 1853–1980 (Waco: Texian, 1980). A Memorial and Biographical History of Johnson and Hill Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1892).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Virginia Sullins, "ABBOTT, TX," accessed January 21, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hla01.
Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Modified on August 29, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.