Texas Western Railroad
The Texas Western Railway Company was chartered on April 28, 1881, as a reorganization of the Texas Western Narrow Gauge Railway Company. It was one of three railroads in Texas chartered with the name "Texas Western." The other companies were chartered on the same day in 1852; one was never built and the other eventually became a part of The Texas and Pacific Railway Company. The railroad was originally promoted by I. S. Roberts, Thomas W. House, Thomas H. Scanlan, Eugene Pillot and others of Houston as the Western Narrow Gauge Railway Company on August 4, 1870. This company was, by a few days, the first narrow gauge railroad chartered in Texas. As originally conceived, the railroad was to build from Houston to San Antonio via Bellville, La Grange, Lockhart and New Braunfels along with a branch from La Grange to Bastrop. In addition, the Western Narrow Gauge could also build from New Braunfels down the Guadalupe Valley to connect with any railroad building from the Gulf Coast. Although the company created considerable interest along its proposed route, sufficient financial support was not forthcoming. On February 6, 1875, the charter was amended to change the name of the company to the Texas Western Narrow Gauge Railway Company. The amended charter also gave the company the right to build west so "as to cross the Rio Grande at or near Presidio del Norte." The promoters planned eventually to continue the line across Mexico to Guaymas, on the Gulf of California. In addition, the charter granted authority to construct a branch line from some point in Caldwell or Hays county to the northwestern border of Texas and there to connect with the Denver and Rio Grande Railway Company.
Although ground was broken in 1872, actual construction did not begin until early 1875, and the first locomotive arrived around the first of March. The initial ten miles opened with an excursion on July 3, but it took another year for the second ten miles to be completed, and it was not until April 23, 1877, that the railroad opened for the forty-two miles between Houston and Pattison. At that point members of the Pattison family donated 150 acres for the development of a terminal. To handle its traffic the Texas Western Narrow Gauge had two locomotives, fifteen freight cars, and one passenger car. Within two years the railroad was in financial trouble and was reorganized as the Texas Western Railway Company. At this time former president Ulysses S. Grant became interested in the project and became a member of its board of directors, while his son, Frederick D. Grant, was named president of the company. In 1882 the railroad was able to bridge the Brazos River and completed a ten-mile extension to Sealy, where a connection was made with the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway Company. However, due to the difference in track gauge between the two companies, the Texas Western was unable to interchange cars. The railroad went back into the hands of the court on July 2, 1884, when a receiver was appointed for the company. A receiver's sale, held on May 5, 1885, was approved by the court on November 25. Although the property was transferred to Elijah Smith of New York, the railroad remained in the hands of a receiver due to a lawsuit in Federal Court to determine the rights of the various alleged owners of the company. In 1887 the receiver made an unsuccessful attempt to extend the Texas Western at least as far as Cat Springs, twelve miles west of Sealy. The fate of the narrow gauge was sealed in 1893 when the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway Company of Texas (Katy) built into Houston along the projected route of the Texas Western. The Katy line between Sealy and Houston paralleled the Texas Western and crossed the narrow gauge three miles south of Pattison. The Texas Western was sold in 1895 with Elijah Smith again the purchaser. It appears that the railroad did not operate after June 30, 1896, although it was not abandoned until 1899. The rails were removed by June 30, 1900, and the land at Pattison reverted to the Pattison family.
PATTISON, TEXAS. Pattison is near the junction of Farm roads 1458 and 359, thirty miles west of Houston in southern Waller County. It was named for James Tarrant Pattison, who purchased a large tract of William Heady's Mexican land grant in 1839 and built his plantation house on a hill. Pattison's plantation was a stage stop at the intersection of the Atascosito Road and the San Felipe Trail and included a gin, a gristmill, a sawmill, and a race track for the local gentry's favorite sport. According to Pattison family lore, the name of the town was the result of a horse race: Pattison and a rival plantation owner matched their favorite horses for the winner's privilege of naming the proposed town after himself. The George Parker Church, established in 1854 and named for its first minister, was also located in the vicinity of the present town. The town was organized in 1877, when three of Pattison's children granted the Texas Western Narrow Gauge Railroad a right-of-way through their property and donated additional land for a turntable and townsite. The preexisting community of Pine Grove, centered around Edwin Waller's general store and post office and already a supply point for the surrounding rich agricultural area by 1873, soon moved to the railroad terminus on the Pattison plantation. The new post office was first called Patterson's Station (1879), then Patterson (1883). The name of the railway stop, however, was always Pattison, and the post office finally took that name in 1916. The railroad, which primarily shipped cotton to Houston, opened for traffic in August 1878, and the town flourished. German, Jewish, and Armenian entrepreneurs contributed to the town's development. By 1883 a population of 250 made Pattison the second largest community in Waller County. Thirteen years later the town had five cotton gins, a steam gristmill, seven general stores, two doctors, and a population of 500. Germans, the predominant immigrant group, founded the German Methodist Church in 1875 and Christ Lutheran Church in 1890. Anglo-Americans organized Pattison Methodist Church in the early 1880s. Itinerant black ministers held frequent camp meetings at Pattison, where Mount Calvary Baptist Church was founded in 1889. The town's first public school opened in 1881, and by 1892 Pattison was headquarters for a school district that included Pattison Negro School.
The railroad ceased operation in 1899, and nearby Brookshire on the Missouri, Kansas and Texas line replaced Pattison as southern Waller County's distribution center. The Galveston hurricane of 1900 destroyed Pattison's school, Methodist church, and many businesses; a downtown fire in the same year hastened business relocation to Brookshire. By 1925 the population in Pattison had decreased to 100, but a strong sense of community, strong churches, and good farmland helped citizens rebuild. Electricity came in 1930, when Peter Donigan paid Houston Light and Power to run a line to his cotton gin, and in 1934 the community established a high school. Pattison had a population estimated at 250 in 1941 and 316 in 1968. The town was incorporated on November 16, 1972. Waller County's last operating cotton gin, at Pattison, closed in 1976. In 1988 the town retained its post office, a justice of the peace, a state health clinic, a school, four churches, and two cemeteries. The town's population in the late 1980s was just under 450. In 1990 it was 327. By 2000 the population was 447.
Mildred W. Abshier, ed., Waller County Whatnots (Hempstead, Texas: Waller County Historical Commission and Waller County Historical Society, 1986). Martha Davis et al., A Directory of Cemeteries in Waller County (Hempstead, Texas: Waller County Historical Commission, 1977). Corrie Pattison Haskew, Historical Records of Austin and Waller Counties (Houston: Premier Printing and Letter Service, 1969). Waller County Historical Commission, Cotton Gins of Waller County (Brenham, Texas, 1981). Waller County Historical Survey Committee, A History of Waller County, Texas (Waco: Texian, 1973).
LESLIE, TEXAS. Leslie (Leslie Switch) was at the northeast edge of the site of present Brookshire, twenty-five miles from Hempstead in southern Waller County. The community was founded in 1878 and named for postmaster Robert Hugh Leslie, who also served as a ticket agent for the Texas Western Narrow Gauge Railroad, which ran from Houston to neighboring Pattison. Leslie was a fueling station for the railroad and by 1890 had eighty residents, two churches, a school, three general stores, and a gristmill and gin. When competition from the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad reduced the Texas Western's traffic, Leslie declined. The Leslie post office operated from 1879 until 1893, when a new office opened in nearby Brookshire. The old rail station disappeared.
Mildred W. Abshier et al., Former Post Offices of Waller County (Hempstead, Texas: Waller County Historical Society, 1977). Waller County Historical Survey Committee, A History of Waller County, Texas (Waco: Texian, 1973).
CLEMONS, TEXAS. Clemons (Clemens, Clemons Switch) is a rural community of scattered dwellings on the east side of Irons Creek near Farm Road 1458 seven miles northwest of Brookshire in southern Waller County. A switch on the Texas Western Narrow Gauge railroad was at the site. The community is named for an early settler, Martin Key Clemons, who operated a general store that also housed a post office from 1885 to 1888. A Clemons church existed as early as 1883 and a school by 1892. Clemons was a home of Edwin A. Waller, for whom Waller County is named.
Competition from neighboring Pattison, which had a railroad depot and a turntable, slowed Clemons's growth. The railroad ceased operations in 1899. A school for black children operated at Clemons in the 1930s. During the 1960s the community had two churches, Wades Chapel and Wesley Chapel, as well as five cemeteries. In 1990 a few homes remained in the community, and children attended classes in the Royal Independent School District in Brookshire.
The main Depot station was located at Eagle and Main streets in Houston. [The site of the South Main Baptist Church]
A family named Westheimer lived 5 miles west of the depot where the track was built along the road to their home. There they established the first station stop and named it Westheimer.
The No. 2 station was called Piney Point Beeler. It was a distance of 17 miles from the starting point.
The No. 3 station was named Zimby, which was 4 miles from Piney Point Beeler and 21 miles from the starting point.
The No. 4 station was a water station and fueling point named Wimberly, which was 29 miles from the starting point.
The No. 5 station was the Leslie farm, which was 39 miles from the starting point.
The No. 6 station was located near the Historical marker in Pattison or 41.8 miles from the starting point. The Pattison town station had a turn around for the train to return to Houston.
As the railroad was extended there were stations set up in San Felipe and Sealy.
The narrow gauge railroad was used to haul cotton and farm products and even stagecoach passengers to Houston. It was occasionally used by hunters. Farmers also used it to deliver farm workers from field to field.
Pattison historical Marker, FM 359:
Texas Western Narrow Gauge Depot.
Near this site stood the depot of the
Texas Western Narrow Gauge Railway.
Chartered August 4, 1870; operated
from Houston to Sealy until 1899.
Right of way was donated by the
Pattison Family, founders of the
town of Pattison.
[Waller County Historical Survey Committee, 1963]
From HOUSTON, THE BAYOU CITY By David G. McComb, 1969 Page 40
'The Texas Western Narrow Gauge Railroad, construction of which was to have started in 1872 after the president Ingham S. Roberts, threw up the first spade full of earth, was not so fortunate. Due to financial problems, actual construction of the three-foot-gauge line did not begin until 1875. Thomas W. House was president at that time and the city provided bonds to pay for the enterprise. Forty-two miles westward to Patterson opened in1877, but business proved unprofitable. After several changes in ownership and reorganization, it was abandoned in 1899.
WEEKLY HOUSTON TELEGRAPH, February 26, 1875, July 9, 1875, October 15, 1875.
TEXAS RAILROADS, Reed, page 479. Often called Patterson, the name originally seems to have been Pattison, named after George M. Pattison who gave the land for the town site.
A HISTORY OF WALLER COUNTY, TEXAS Published by The Waller CountyHistorical Survey Committee, 1973.
The town of Pattison was organized and located on the Texas Western Narrow Gauge Railroad in 1877. Prior to this the vicinity around Pattison was known as Pine Grove.
James T. Pattison was born May 1, 1810 in South Carolina and died on December 8, 1872 and was buried in the family cemetery at Pattison. He was married on January 21, 1838 in Madison County, Florida to Sarah Smith, daughter of Solomon and Emily Smith, who with other children had moved to Texas earlier.
In a letter from Soloman Smith to his son-in-law James Pattison, he urged him to come to Texas and no doubt his glowing praise of the country helped to influence him to move to Texas. Smith described the lands as being very rich and producing from five to seven hundredweight of clean cotton per acre, and from forty to sixty bushels of corn. Smith at this time was in Brazoria while James Pattisons were still in Florida just before coming to Texas.
The children of James and Sarah Pattison, namely; John Tarrant; William Robert; Catherine Elizabeth Barton; George Madison; and Benjamin Franklin, inherited the land where the town of Pattison is located along with thousands of other acres in the area which their father had bought.
Three of the children, George M., Cathern Barton, and Benjamin Franklin each gave fifty acres of land to the Narrow Gauge Railroad for a right-of-way, a turntable, and for selling lots to populate the town.
In 1882 it was extended four miles in a southwesterly direction to the Brazos River and across to San Felipe. From there it went on to Sealy, a combined distance of twelve and three-fourths miles from the turntable at Pattison. There was a loading switch installed on each side of the Brazos River.
The railroad lacked two miles of reaching the then town site of Sealy. The people wishing to receive full benefit from the service of the railroad moved the town to the terminus.
The railroad had indeed come to Pattison! It came into town through pasture land from the Northeast, the line paralleling a short distance from the Sterling Lane where Tom and Will Sterling had homes as did John Holt. From here it turned north-northwest at approximately the spot on which the Donigan Gin is now located or slightly east of it, going across what is now FM 359 to a point south-southwest about a block or more to a spot where there was a depot.
The depot was a square one room building with a very wide platform on all four sides, built of twelve inch wide, two inch thick planks. The depot, used primarily for freight, was built on a level with an open flat car or freight car door.
There were a good many residents in Pattison at this time. Some were local people who had been residents for some time and others who had come to work for relatives, or become business men themselves.
John H. Ferguson had joined military forces in Richmond during the Civil War and upon his return made his home in the area. He married Jeanette Parker from Fort Bend County; Ben Jones, father of Charlie, Hattie and Reese, married a cousin, Annie Jones; Edgar Viles, who had two boys and one girl, lived on the Brookshire-Pattison road close to Stenzil's Blacksmith Shop. He was a repair, handy man that moved to Houston in early 1900. Viles was also a sort of veterinarian who helped out with sick animals; Ed Adams worked as a clerk for J. H. Ferguson in his general store and married Eva Downman; Pete Donigan, father of Dick, Berge, and H.P. who owned the cotton gin in town; W. E. Cloett at this time clerked for H. P. Downman. Later he had a store of his own and was postmaster for more than thirty years. At his death, his son Claude became postmaster until his death in 1962. W. E. Cliet married Mattie Foster and they also had two daughters; Charlie Dewitt clerked in one of the stores and was not married. His sister Ella, widow of a Mr. Cooper and later widow of Tom Kerr, married Guilf Foster; M. L. Stocking came to Pattison to work for a relative and married Lucy Foster Pattison, widow of Franklin Pattison. Lucy had three small children at the time named Hallie, Foster, and Ernest Pattison. Mr. Stocking later owned a merchandise store of his own. After his wife's death when his health became bad, he moved into the Will Sterling home where Mrs. Pearl Sterling nursed him until his death; Cape Dewitt was the station agent and was married to Ida Cooper. He had also taught school in Pattison. He lived in a house close to the depot which he may have built. He later sold the house to Will Sterling and it is still standing today and owned by W. C. Taylor. Dewitt and his fmily, two girls and four boys, moved to Houston shortly after the railroad was discontinued.
A row of buildings, stores, and dwellings were built facing the north-northeast. The first building on the corner was a general merchandise store owned and operated by Henry Downman. The post office also was run by him at this time. Adjoining him were two buildings, a warehouse and general store owned by John H. Ferguson. The Fugerson home as well as the Downman home were built behind their respective stores.
There were other buildings in the block. One the home of a family named Simonton who had a rooming house. Farther down the block was a blacksmith shop owned by a colored man named Brinkley.
On the opposite side of the depot there were no tracks but a short distance over, near where the stores are located today, was a long string of stores and shops. Among them was a general merchandise store owned by Gus Rankin, who also had a saloon facing south on a corner. Nearby was a drug store belonging to Dr. L. W. Bains.
Nathan Murry, father of Mrs. Creigh Sterling owned a general store. There was a drug store owned by Dr. Ned Burford and another general store owned by Tom Sterling.
The Rankin family lived where the Donigan home is now located. The original part of the building is still standing but it is changned by remodeling and additions. The older part would be over a hundred years old at this time.
On the same row of buildings was a coffin shop where coffins were made and sold. It possibly was owned by Bayless Whisenant.
On Sunday afternoons the young men took their lady friends for buggy rides through the country side to enjoy the scenery. It is just possible that there was also a little old fashioned courting. A livery stable here rented the buggies.
The buildings on both sides of the railroad station were connected by board walks to avoid the mud which at times could be deep and messy.
After the train passed the depot going north-northwest, it went straight out for several blocks, then turned almost directly west passing very near the Issac Foster home located on Frank Pattison land. The train crossed Bessie's Creek before crossing the Brazos River on its way to Sealy.
There are some interesting stories told about the old Narrow Gauge. There were only two locomotives and John Ferguson and Dr. L. W. Baines made fun of the size of the train and enjoyed teasing the men who worked for the railroad. In retaliation the company named one locomotive for John Ferguson and the other for Dr. Baines. The names of these two men were printed in large letters on the sides of their respective engines.
The train, having no strict schedules to conform to, would simply take a break between Pattison and the Brazos. Everyone would climb down from the train and go fishing, hunting, berry picking, or pick up pecans, depending upon the season. After spending several hours in a leisurely fashion they once again boarded the train and continued on their way.
Sometimes people boarded the train at Pattison, went as far as the river and walked back. Surely a train ride was more exciting than the first ride in a model T Ford!
T. W. House, R. C. Love, Eugine Pillot and other well known business men were among the incorporators of the Texas Western Narrow Gauge. Dr. Ingram S. Roberts was the organizer of the charter and B. T. Morse was president. The railroad had been forced into receivership and had been reorganized in 1880. It was abandoned in 1899 when the Missouri Kansas and Texas [MKT] obtained a right-or-way which parallel the Texas Western by about two or three miles to the south of Pattison.