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LEESVILLE, TEXAS. Leesville, on State Highway 80 in the southwestern part of Gonzales County, was originally established on the east bank of Castleman's Creek, later named O'Neill Creek, for the Henry O'Neill family, who had arrived in the 1830s. The town was first named Capote, after the Capote Hills. In the late 1860s Sylvester A. Hubbard built an ox-powered treadmill to grind corn and saw lumber. About 1868 Daniel Brown and his brother opened the first general merchandise store at the site. A brick kiln and a saddletree and stirrup factory also began operation. Between 1868 and 1887 Newburn H. Guinn divided land on the west bank of the creek into town lots and sold them to various businesses. About 1870 he named the community Leesburg, in honor of his daughter, Lee. A post office opened in 1873 was first designated Capote because there was another Leesburg in Texas. The name was changed to Leesville in 1874. A one-room, red-brick schoolhouse was constructed, and Mrs. M. C. Hubbard deeded a quarter acre of land to the stockholders of the Leesburg Male and Female Institute on January 21, 1873. Early sources of income were cutting and selling oak and other hardwood timber for building purposes, raising grain, and ranching. Cotton became the principal money crop after the Civil War. Three gins were in operation at the same time. Leesville flourished as a business and supply center. The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, organized about 1866 and hosted the annual West Texas Conference on December 20, 1871, in a new building. The Leesville Baptist Church organized in December 1876, the Leesville Church of Christ in 1911, and the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church and Mexican Baptist Church later.
Railroads were built nearby in the early 1900s, and highways were constructed in the mid-1930s. The population increased from 246 in 1904 to 400 during the 1920s and dropped in the 1930s to 300. On June 30, 1936, over twenty-six inches of rain devastated the town and surrounding areas. Much hardship followed, forcing people to move elsewhere. Several businesses and some homes were rebuilt a half mile west on Highway 80. Between 1904 and 1965 the number of rated businesses varied from a high of eight to a low of five. The school system developed into an accredited high school before it was consolidated with the Nixon Independent School District. The last high school class graduated in 1947, but four elementary grades were taught at Leesville until 1951. The reported population was 300 in 1965. The Baptist and Methodist churches remained active in 1989. A garage, a cafe, the post office, and a wholesale specialty company were still in operation. Ranching and peanut and melon farming were important. From 1968 to 1990 the population was 150. In 1989 Leesville had two rated businesses. From 1968 to 2000 the population was 150. In 2000 Leesville had seven rated businesses.
BIBLIOGRAPHY:Virgil Mahan, The History of Leesville (M.A. thesis, Southwest Texas State Teachers College, 1941).
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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, Delle Colwell Brown, "Leesville, TX," accessed April 20, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hll30.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.