PAPALOTE, TEXAS. Papalote, one of the oldest communities in Bee County, is on State Highway 181 and a Southern Pacific line eighteen miles south of Beeville and three miles north of the San Patricio county line. It was settled on Papalote Creek, and the name came either from the Karankawa Indian word for "kite" or from the Mexican-Spanish word meaning "windmill" or "powered by air". Early settlers, among them Robert Carlisle, Brigida Quinn Black, and Patrick and William Quinn, immigrated from Ireland in 1828 and obtained Mexican land grants in the area. Before 1857 three settlements developed in the vicinity. Lower Papalote or Steenville had the area's first store (operated by R. W. Steen), as well as a church, a school, a post office, and a predominantly Protestant population. Central Papalote or Cravensville developed around a lumber business built by Felix Hart; the name Cravensville was in honor of the prominent Craven family. Catholics predominated in this community, and its first church, built in 1871, was Catholic. By 1900 Chattam Hall, a community center, had been built on a Cravensville site donated by W. B. Hatch. The third community, Upper Papalote, also known as Murdock Place or Spangle Field, was the site of a store run by Luke Hart on the opposite or south side of the creek from the other two developments. Either Upper or Central Papalote may also have been known as Harts. In 1881 Lower Papalote lost residents to Mineral City, and by the mid-1880s the three Papalote communities had joined together. A Lower Papalote school, which registered eighty-one pupils in 1876, was replaced in 1888 by a central school, which registered thirty-four pupils by 1898.
In 1872 Papalote had saloons, churches, two stores, and a meat market, saddle shop, gristmill, and doctor. Until 1880 the community polled the most votes in Bee County. A post office known as Papalota functioned in Lower Papalote from 1860 to 1866. A post office known as Popolote began in Cravensville in 1870, was renamed Papalote in 1883, and closed in 1923. It operated again from 1926 to 1953, when mail was delivered from Sinton. In 1886 the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway built a line through Papalote, on right-of-way donated by W. B. Hatch; the railway also built a depot, which was eventually moved to Skidmore. Also in 1886 the German-American Land Company bought land from Hatch and sold it to settlers from Iowa and Hawaii, who planted orange groves on their five-acre tracts. When a freeze destroyed the project, most of the new settlers left and the land titles reverted to Hatch. A 1910 land boom brought a canning factory, a hotel, and a tinsmith and blacksmith shop, but no other substantial development. A hurricane in 1919 destroyed the community's Baptist church. The population of Papalote was fifty-two in 1890, 134 in 1904, and fifty in the 1930s. The 1936 county highway map showed the town with a school and several dwellings, and a 1983 map showed three businesses, the community center, and scattered dwellings at the site, as well as a cemetery on the south side of the creek at the former site of Upper Papalote. From 1968 through 2000 the population of Papalote was reported as seventy.
Grace Bauer, Bee County Centennial, 1858–1958 (Bee County Centennial, 1958). Grace Bauer (Lillian Grace Schoppe), The History of Bee County, Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1939). Camp Ezell, Historical Story of Bee County, Texas (Beeville: Beeville Publishing, 1973).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Laura Caldwell, "PAPALOTE, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlp07), accessed July 31, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.