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HAWKINSVILLE, TEXAS. Hawkinsville was a plantation community seventeen miles from what is now Van Vleck in southeastern Matagorda County. It was at a site on Caney Creek, where the rich bottomlands supported a thriving plantation economy before the Civil War. The Hawkinsville Tap of the New York, Texas and Mexican Railway, which ran parallel to what is now Farm road 457, had reached Hawkinsville by 1903. The community was named for plantation owner James Boyd Hawkins, who in 1840 or 1845 brought his wife and a number of slaves to lower Caney Creek. They lived in a two-story colonial-style plantation house, the remains of which still stood as late as the mid-1970s. Hawkins was among the first in the county to grow sugarcane on a large scale. Around 1852, with slave labor, he built a large sugar mill of kiln-dried brick; the mill was run by steam engine and had a forty-foot-high smokestack. Many of its bricks were later removed and used to build homes in Bay City. Hawkinsville also served as the headquarters for the large J. B. Hawkins ranch, until Hawkins shifted his seat of operations to his second plantation home a few miles to the west on the shores of Lake Austin; this structure was granted a state historic marker in the 1960s. John B. Magruder quartered troops and supplies at Hawkins' Post (Hawkinsville) from December 1863 to January 1864 during the Civil War. After the war, Hawkins maintained his sugar plantation with convict labor instead of slaves (see PRISON SYSTEM). By the mid-1890s, however, he reportedly had stopped raising sugarcane and instead focused on corn, cotton, and cattle. In 1874 Hawkinsville received a post office, and by the early 1880s the community reported a population of twenty. Its post office closed in 1888. A second post office called Hawkinsville operated intermittently from 1898 to 1907 but may not have been located at the townsite. Sometime after the railroad arrived in 1903, Hawkinsville reportedly had as many as 100 residents, along with the sugar mill and a general store, cotton gin, cotton press, and brickyard. Prior to 1937 the Sun Oil Company operated at or near Hawkinsville. Though the rail line to Hawkinsville was closed in 1932, highway maps dating from the late 1930s showed a factory still operating at the site. By 1952 all remaining structures had been abandoned, though in 1972 two new residences had been built there. An archeological survey conducted in the mid-1970s noted fairly extensive ruins remaining at the site.
BIBLIOGRAPHY:Gayle Jeannine Fritz, Matagorda Bay Area, Texas (Research Report 45 [Texas Archeological Survey of the University of Texas at Austin, 1975]). Matagorda County Historical Commission, Historic Matagorda County (3 vols., Houston: Armstrong, 1986).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Rachel Jenkins, "Hawkinsville, TX," accessed April 28, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hvh34.
Uploaded on August 31, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.