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CAMP AIR, TX

CAMP AIR, TEXAS. Camp Air, or simply Air, is at the junction of U.S. Highway 377/Interstate Highway 87 and Ranch Road 1222, two miles southwest of Katemcy in northern Mason County. The area was used for many years as pastureland by Comanche Indians, who periodically burned off the brush to encourage the growth of the prairie grass. In the 1850s soldiers from Fort Mason cut hay there for their animals. Early white settlers began moving into the area around 1862. Many of them had been stationed at the Ranger camp on the San Saba River and moved to the area after their term of enlistment was over. There were originally three separate communities. The school community was named Peter's Prairie after Maj. Sam (or Joshua) Peters, who owned much of the land at one time and used to send his slaves there to cut prairie grass for Fort Mason. The original picket school, where Miss Jane Hurley was an early teacher, was eventually replaced by a rock building. The school was later moved closer to the highway south of town but retained the name Peter's Prairie for many years. The church, built in 1876, and the surrounding community were named by early settler David Hurley after his previous hometown, Bethel, South Carolina. The original building was replaced in the 1930s and is located one-half mile south of the present community.

Camp Air was the name given to the stores that grew up on either side of the Mason-to-Brady highway. John Kyle, who built the first store and filling station, supposedly chose the name as a joke, claiming his stores looked like a camp and he had nothing else but air. Other sources say that the name was chosen because of its brevity when Kyle applied for a post office in 1925. He had wanted to name the community Kyle, but there was already a Texas town by that name. Eventually all three communities became known as Air, and after 1966 as Camp Air, although the post office was never established. The town reached its highest population of seventy-five in the early 1940s. From 1974 through the mid-1980s the population held steady at thirty-one. As of 1980 Camp Air had a store and filling station, the Bethel church and cemetery, and a community center located in the old schoolhouse. In 1990 and 2000 the population was fifteen.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Kathryn Burford Eilers, A History of Mason County, Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1939). Stella Gipson Polk, Mason and Mason County: A History (Austin: Pemberton Press, 1966; rev. ed., Burnet, Texas: Eakin Press, 1980). Mason County Historical Book (Mason, Texas: Mason County Historical Commission, 1976).

Alice J. Rhoades

Citation

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

Alice J. Rhoades, "CAMP AIR, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hncay), accessed July 31, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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