Polly, also known as the J. P. Rodriguez Settlement, is a small rural community located approximately six miles northeast of Bandera and two miles north of State Highway 16 in eastern Bandera County. In 1858 noted U. S. Army scout and Tejano frontiersman, José Policarpio “Polly” Rodriguez, was on assignment to recover escaped army camels from nearby Camp Verde. During this mission, he discovered the pristine Privilege Creek valley—land flush with game, running creeks, and abundant oak, cedar, and cypress trees. As a result, he immediately purchased 360 acres from John James. Thus, Rodriguez became the first settler in this area and established his home and ranch there. Ultimately, he acquired several thousand acres that he offered to would-be settlers. The nearby communities of Bandera, Center Point, and Pipe Creek had also just begun.
Rodriguez began recruiting Tejano families from San Antonio and south along the Medina River, where he had lived on his father’s ranch. Leading Tejano families on “La Medina” were the Herrera, Losoya, Martinez, Navarro, Perez, Ruiz, and Vargas families. Third generation sons and daughters sought new ranching opportunities along the Texas Hill Country frontier, and the idea of a homesteading grant was very attractive.
The area became the focus of one of the county’s four school districts in 1867. By the 1870s about a dozen Tejano pioneer ranchers had settled there, and by the late 1880s more than thirty Tejano ranchers were enumerated as living in the village known as the J. P. Rodriguez Settlement. Most dwellings and outbuildings were built of limestone from the plentiful natural limestone outcroppings. An abundant amount of cedar and oak trees provided framing and roofing materials. Their stock and trade were Longhorn cattle, wild mustangs, and later sheep that were imported.
The families of Amachor, Cereghetti, Castillo, De Ollos, Enriques, Gerodetti, Gonzales, Hill, Herrera, Langford, Loya, Lurati, Martinez, Rodriguez, Sanchez, Taffoya, Trejo, and Trevino were among the Tejano and European families that settled there as farmers, ranchers, merchants, and Texas Rangers. The compradozgo (“God parentage”) practiced among the Tejanos helped strengthen their families, economics, and religion. A post office was established under the name of Polly in 1888, and during this time the town included a general store, a school, and Polly’s Chapel—a Methodist church built of native stone by Rodriguez in 1882. Rodriguez donated an acre on his ranch for Polly’s Cemetery in the 1890s. He was twice elected county commissioner and served as a justice of the peace and a hide and cattle inspector. He became a Methodist minister and served the church and his congregation for thirty-five years. By the mid-1890s Polly had a population of about 300 residents.
However, by the early 1900s the town began to fade as the post office was discontinued in 1912. Chapel services were moved to Bandera, and in 1942 the school at Polly was consolidated with the Bandera Independent School District. The church, cemetery, and several scattered houses marked the community on county highway maps in the late 1940s. No population estimates were available by the 1980s.
The Polly Texas Pioneer Association, a nonprofit organization founded in 2003, headed efforts for historic preservation of the early settlement. By the end of the 2010s the chapel, which received a Texas Historical Marker in 1965, had been restored. Polly’s Cemetery applied for designation as an official historic cemetery, and the schoolhouse was under reconstruction for designation.