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SOMERVILLE, TX

SOMERVILLE, TEXAS. Somerville is on the northeastern shore of Lake Somerville seventeen miles southeast of Caldwell in far southern Burleson County. Anglo-American settlement in the vicinity began in the mid 1830s. The Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway constructed its Galveston-Caldwell spur through the area in 1880. In 1883 William N. Landolt purchased the first lot in a new townsite surveyed on the rail line a mile north of Yegua Creek and opened a commissary. In that year a second rail spur from East Texas via Navasota was extended to the site, and soon a train depot, a railroad yard with repair shops, and a roundhouse for engine servicing were erected. In 1893 J. R. Lyon built the first general store in the community. A post office opened in 1894 for sixteen months and was reopened in 1897. The community was named for Albert Somerville, the first president of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway Company. In the mid 1890s a group of Chicago investors constructed the Texas Tie and Lumber Preserving Company. For decades it was the only large industrial plant in the county. A second general store was opened by Capt. R. A. Brantley in 1898. In the early 1900s the community had an electricity generating facility, a cotton gin, an icehouse, a lumber yard, a pharmacy, a bottling works, a tin shop, a candy store, a bank, and a depot restaurant known as the Harvey House. The community's first union church services were held in the offices of the tie plant in 1898. The Mount Cavalry Baptist Church was organized in 1900, and a year later the First Baptist Church and a congregation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, were formed. In 1903 the Somerville Independent School District was established, and two years later a brick schoolhouse was erected, replacing earlier frame structures. In 1913 Somerville was incorporated and adopted the city commission form of government. The First Lutheran Church was organized in 1924. The United States Army Corps of Engineers began construction of the Somerville Dam and Reservoir on Yegua Creek at the southwestern edge of the township in 1962 and completed the project four years later, rendering the vicinity one of the most outstanding recreational area in south central Texas. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad maintained shops and facilities in the community in 1990. In 1925 the town reported a population of 1,879. In 1931 it had an estimated 2,287 residents and sixty-eight businesses. In 1941 the population was an estimated 1,621 and in 1961 1,177. In 1990 Somerville had a population estimated at 1,542 and sixteen businesses. The population grew to 1,704 in 2000.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Burleson County Historical Society, Astride the Old San Antonio Road: A History of Burleson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980).

Charles Christopher Jackson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Charles Christopher Jackson, "SOMERVILLE, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hjs19), accessed April 17, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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