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The Town of Twin Groceries

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman

A recent caller from Bowie County had an intriguing question: “Does East Texas have a town named Twin Groceries?”

The answer is yes and no..

Around 1850, John Arthur helped settle the town of Saltillo on the Old Jefferson wagon road sixteen miles east of Sulphur Springs in Hopkins County.

It soon became a popular place for teamsters, leading to the establishment of a post office in 1860 with Moses Russell as the postmaster.

The town also had a gristmill, a cotton gin and a store.

A second store was opened on the opposite side of the road from Arthur’s grocery store and, for a time, the community was known as “Twin Groceries” for obvious reasons.

But the name didn’t last long and Saltillo soon reemerged, By 1885, Saltillo had a water-powered gristmill, two churches, a school and a population of about sixty. But what about Saltillo’s name?

Admittedly, it’s not as colorful as Twin Groceries, but it does have an interesting history.

Saltillo, Mexico, the namesake of the one in Hopkins County, and Austin share a unique place in Texas history. Both were Texas capitals.

Saltillo was the capital of Texas when its territory was part of the Mexican state of Coahulia before Texas won its independence and Austin became the capital of the Republic of Texas.

In 1989, while I was serving on the Texas Sesquicentennial Commission, a delegation from Saltillo, Mexico, journeyed to Austin to help Texas celebrate its 150th birthday.

In 1887, the St. Louis Southwestern Railroad built a line a few miles north of Saltillo, Texas, and one of the town’s two grocery stores moved to the train station site. Twin Groceries had no good reason to use its name anymore.

Saltillo opened a school in 1905 with an enrollment of eighty-four. And in 1909 the Gulf Pipe Line was laid through Hopkins County near Saltillo, further spurring its growth.

The town kept growing and by 1904 it had a population of about 350, a number of stores, several barber shops, a bank, a printing shop, and a newspaper known as the Saltillo Signal.

The town continued to grow during the l920s, but the Depression years reduced its prosperity and its population fell to 250.

Today, Saltillo is still an active settlement of about 200 folks and a few stores at the intersection of U.S. Highway 67, Farm Road 900, and the railroad. The town is also less than a mile from Interstate Highway 30.

Sadly, there is nothing left of Twin Groceries, but a colorful old name.

Bob Bowman's East Texas July 18, 2009 Column, Modified 6-18-12
A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers

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