in a Pecan Shell
The town had originally
been in Walker County. When San
Jacinto County was formed in 1870, the community was split east
and west by the new county line. James W. Winters, former Alabaman,
settled in the area just a year before Texas Independence in 1835.
Other families moved into the area and by 1852, the community had
promising population of 300 people.
Just before the Civil War Waverly was platted and incorporated. The
town ( like Ivanhoe
in North Texas)
is said to be named after the writings of Sir Walter Scott. A male
and female academy opened in 1856 and the town had a post office in
operation from 1855 through 1872.
Storekeeper Meyer Levy, a Polish Jew and Civil War Veteran, suggested
to others in the community that bringing new settlers from Poland
would benefit all concerned. The Waverly Emigration Society was formed,
but while the plan was to recruit about 150 workers; the numbers fell
dramatically short of the goal. As the Houston and Great Northern
Railroad extended it's tracks north through the region, fearful townspeople
refused to grant a right-of-way to the railroad. This misguided refusal
spawned the town of "New" Waverly
10 miles west and spelled the end to Waverly - which was thereafter
referred to as Old Waverly.
In 1896 Old Waverly still maintained a population of nearly 400, by
by 1925 it was down to 100. Today, all that's left of Waverly is the
cemetery and Presbyterian church (both on the west side of the county
line). The cemetery is at the west end of the street while the church
is on the far right end. A "subdivision" on the south side of 150
has appropriated the name of Old Waverly, but the former town now
consists only of the Presbyterian church, the handsome cemetery and
two historical markers.
church in Old Waverly.
TE photo, 2006
| Historical Marker
(14 miles W. of Coldspring, just N of Hwy 150):
Early center of
culture for this part of Texas. Settled
1835-1850s, mainly by people from Alabama. Community was named for
the Waverley novels of Sir Walter Scott, then very popular. To provide
education equal to any, Waverly Institute was founded in 1854, with
separate departments for boys and girls. Plantation system prevailed
until 1860s. During Civil War, Federal troops camped in heart of Waverly,
on Soldier's Hill. Of three early churches, only the Presbyterian
(organized in 1860) still exists; its present building was erected
Old Waverly’s fade
into oblivion may be short of tragic elements, but two separate stories
were enough to have it included in the late Ed Sayer’s Ghosts of
Texas. When one considers the cottage industry that spooks and
spirits have become in recent years, it’s an accomplishment to be
included as one of the fifty-odd stories in what is considered to
be the first volume written on Texas Ghosts.
The sites of the stories are several miles apart in what remains today
of the dense forest that was laboriously pushed back by slave labor
to plant cotton.
Click here for the stories>
1907 Postal Map showing Waverly & New Waverly
(Below "KER" in "WALKER". S of Huntsville)
Courtesy Texas General Land Office
is included in T. Lindsay Baker's book More Ghost Towns of Texas,
U of Oklahoma Press, 2003.
in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas,
asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic
photos, please contact