A BRIEF HISTORY OF SMALL TOWNS IN LIMESTONE COUNTY, TX
Most small towns in Limestone County were established or flourished because of the introduction of the railroad in the area. Those that haven’t survived were not lucky enough to be served by a railroad and were unable to compete in the new economy.
Kosse was formalized in 1869 when it became the end of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad line. The settlement of Thornton began in 1868 but really began to flourish in 1871 after the Houston and Texas Central Railroad ran a line through the area. That same railroad was responsible for the growth of both Mexia in 1870 and Groesbeck in 1871.
In addition to these cities, Tehuacana and Coolidge both benefited from railway, though much later. Tehuacana was first established in 1847 around a post office and in 1903 the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway completed it’s line through Tehuacana, setting the stage for further population growth. The same railway that helped grow Tehuacana was also responsible for the establishment of Coolidge in 1903 as the railway was laying track between Mexia and Hillsboro.
Springfield Cemetery marks the original site of Springfield, the first county seat of Limestone county. When the Texas Central Railroad wanted to come through, the residents held out for more money and the railroad chose a new route, setting the stage for the decline of Springfield and the growth of others. There are remnants of more than 20 small towns that populated Limestone County which, like Springfield, declined and mostly disappeared due to the absence of a railway.
Most of the ‘Small Towns’ that have not survived were settled in the 1840’s, 50’s, and some later, but none were served by the railroad. During farming years, they survived through local farmers. Many had their own school districts, but those are gone and the local cemeteries are about the only reminders of the families and fortunes that once existed throughout Limestone County.
Railroad Towns of Limestone County Texas
Groesbeck, the County Seat, is centrally located and closest to Old Fort Parker, Lake Limestone, Limestone County Fairgrounds, Fort Parker Memorial Park. LS Ranch and other sites of interest. Inside or near Groesbeck are 3 modern motels, numerous restaurants and many entertainment opportunities. History comes alive at the Limestone County Historical Museum and the County Courthouse highlights the “Small Towns” in a display in its main lobby. Massey Foundation, a local charitable foundation, regularly fosters liberal arts and classic studies. Cross Creek Meadows Equine Therapy Center is based in Groesbeck. >> More about Groesbeck
Mexia is the commercial center in Limestone County and closest to the Confederate Reunion Grounds, Fort Parker State Park, Booker T. Washington Park and Lake Mexia. Numerous motels and restaurants are available and various forms of entertainment can be enjoyed throughout the year. Mexia is home to numerous charitable and business organizations that conduct educational,
sporting and charitable events that provide entertainment and training for a wide variety of residents and visitors. Mexia was an oil boom town in the 1920’s. >> More about Mexia
Kosse was another oil boom town and that history is evidenced by the number of large historical homes in town and throughout the area. Historical preservation is a community wide effort and local organizations conduct a large number of entertaining and interesting events. >> More about Kosse
Thornton – The Mary Helen Nance Community Center, built in 2017, is home to many local civic events and provides a venue for other functions. Cross Creek Meadows Equine Therapy Center is near Thornton. >> More about Thornton
Tehuacana has a colorful history. Located on the original site of a Tawakoni Indian village, it is on the highest point between Dallas and Houston. Trinity University was founded there in 1869 and an opportunity for a railroad was first turned down because the noise might disturb students. After Trinity University was moved, the facilities were used by Westminster College. Tehuacana was one of three towns considered for the state capitol of Texas. >> More about Tehuacana
Coolidge lost its railroad, but maintains a museum in the original railroad depot. >> More about Coolidge
Prairie Hill was a farming community due to the rich black loam and is surrounded by large ranches today. The flat prairie was ideal for a training landing strip during World War II and, later, a competitive drag strip. >> More about Prairie Hill