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Craig H. Roell

THOMASTON, TEXAS. Thomaston, on U.S. Highway 87 a mile from the Victoria county line in eastern DeWitt County, was the county's first railroad townsite. It was established in 1872 on the Gulf, Western Texas and Pacific Railway near the old settlement of Price's Creek and named for Nathan Thomas, from whom part of the land was procured. John Patton and Mary Melvina (Lockhart) Wright donated land for the northern section of the site. The first settlers were James H. and Lou Virginia (Thomas) Moore and James H. and Maggie (Hart) Pridgen. James Moore, the first schoolteacher and superintendent of the Methodist Sunday school, also operated the first gin and sawmill. James Pridgen, who opened the first store, was the first railroad stationmaster and also the first postmaster when the post office opened in 1873. In 1885 Thomaston had an estimated 100 residents and seven businesses, including a cotton gin and two gristmills. The town shipped cotton, wool, hides, truck crops, gravel, and cattle from the Julia Pens located 1½ miles south. These cattle-shipping pens were named for Julia Rose, once owner of the land. Thousands of cattle from area ranches in Victoria and DeWitt counties were shipped between 1887 and 1946, when the pens were abandoned. By 1895 the Cuero Star described Thomaston as the only railroad stop of importance between Cuero and Victoria and noted that the town already had the county's third largest school population. In 1896 the town had sixteen businesses, including a hotel with a dentist's office, a lumberyard, and four mills. The Thomaston News was published weekly from 1895 to 1900. The population, which had jumped to an estimated 300 by 1892, reached 347 in 1904. A two-story store built two years later also served as the community hall, dance hall, and Woodmen lodge. By 1906 four mail trains stopped at Thomaston daily, and the Cuero Star noted that Thomaston residents could shop in Cuero or Victoria and be back home the same day. Good dirt roads connected these towns, as well as linking Thomaston to Mission Valley and Fordtran. Thomaston had Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches. A black Baptist church was still active in 1962. Thomaston failed to maintain prosperity as highways improved and autos made transportation easier. The separate black and white schools were both eventually closed, and students were bussed to Cuero. After 1930 the railroad station was designated a flag station until passenger service was discontinued in November 1950. By 1925 the population fell to an estimated seventy-five residents. In 1985 the post office still served an estimated population of forty-five. Thomaston Cemetery contains graves dating to early settlement; Mexican and black cemeteries are nearby. Through 2000 the population of Thomaston was still forty-five.

Cuero Star, Pictorial and Historical Edition, October 1895, Historical Edition, March 1906. Nellie Murphree, A History of DeWitt County (Victoria, Texas, 1962).

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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, Craig H. Roell, "THOMASTON, TX," accessed August 10, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnt18.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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