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Oletha, TX

Stephanie A. Panus General Entry

Oletha is located ten miles east of Thornton on Farm roads 1246 and 937 in southeastern Limestone County. The area was first called Pottersville; in 1859 Alberry Johnson built a pottery shop because there was a good supply of clay in the area. Johnson sold the shop in 1869 to William Knox, who moved the equipment to a site two miles west of Oletha. After the death of Knox's wife and son in 1872, he sold the business to John Fowler. The shop was one of the largest of its kind in Texas, at one time employing as many as sixty workers, and is commemorated by a Texas Historical Commission marker. The community of Oletha began in 1872 when W. W. Barnett built a store on his ranch. A post office opened in 1886 in a general store owned by Joseph Wallace, a physician and druggist, and operated until 1947. The first church was built in 1890, when Oletha had a population of thirty. By 1897 the town had 200 residents, three churches, a post office, and nineteen businesses. By 1915 it had seventy-five residents and six businesses. In 1948 the town had a church, a school, two businesses, and scattered dwellings. Through 1948 the population remained constant at seventy-six. According to local sources moonshining became common during prohibition, and Oletha had some thirty-six stills. Racial prejudice was also common, and Blacks and Mexican Americans were not allowed in the community. Cotton, cattle, and hogs were the primary source of cash for area farmers. The town's school was incorporated into the Groesbeck Independent School District in 1968. No population figures available after 1948 until 2000. The population was listed as fifty-three.

A Family History of Limestone County (Dallas: Taylor, 1984). Ray A. Walter, A History of Limestone County (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1959).


  • Communities

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

Stephanie A. Panus, “Oletha, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 14, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 24, 2020