CHEROKEE, TEXAS. Cherokee is on State Highway 16 some fifteen miles south of San Saba in southern San Saba County. The settlement of upper Cherokee Creek, from which the community took its name, dates to the early 1850s, when P. P. "Pop" Woodard established a ranch five miles west of the site of what is now Cherokee. The second oldest post office in the county was the Cherokee post office, which was moved several times before arriving at the site that it still occupied in the 1980s. It originally opened in 1858 in the home of J. R. Williams in Llano County, then moved in 1869 to the residence of Capt. John Williams in Hanna, a school community on Cherokee Creek in San Saba County. In June 1871 the office was moved to the Montgomery school community on the north bank of the creek, where it shared a building with William O. Handshey's store and the Landrum Hotel. The post office was moved again in September 1878 to the home of M. H. Wadsworth on the Jackson Branch of Cherokee Creek, then moved one last time in July of 1879 to James Samuel Hart's store in Cherokee. David Seth Hanna laid out the permanent townsite of Cherokee in 1878. By the mid-1880s the settlement had developed into the processing and marketing center of an active farming and ranching economy, and by the mid-1890s the town reported a population of 500. In the 1890s the agricultural economy of the Cherokee valley supported a hotel, several churches and schools, a number of processing and supply businesses, and various craft and professional services. Cherokee also became a county center of higher education when Francis Marion Behrns established the Cherokee Academy around 1894. Twice reorganized—first as the West Texas Normal and Business College (1896) and later as Cherokee Junior College (1911)—the school operated until its sale to the county school district in 1921. It then served the community as Cherokee High School until fire razed the main building in 1945. The school was rebuilt using its original façade. In the 1920s Cherokee supported a short-lived bank and two newspapers, and for the next several decades the number of residents remained stable at about 250. In 1990 Cherokee, with a population estimated at 175, served primarily as a supply and postal center for a stock raising and farming economy. Local agricultural production centered on sheep, poultry, and pecans. The population remained 175 in 2000.
Alma Ward Hamrick, The Call of the San Saba: A History of San Saba County (San Antonio: Naylor, 1941; 2d ed., Austin: Jenkins, 1969). San Saba County History (San Saba, Texas: San Saba County Historical Commission, 1983). Alice Gray Upchurch, "A Sketch History of San Saba County," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 50 (July 1946).