frontier towns grew up around stores and saloons. Churches, schools
and cemeteries came next. But a town wasn't a town at all until it
had a post office with a name approved by the U.S. Postal Service.
The approval process wasn't as simple as it appeared to be.
When a small community 12 miles north of Mason,
applied for a post office in 1883, citizens met to choose a name.
Because the Cowan family was building a house nearby and there was
a lot of hammering going on, someone suggested Hammerville, The Postal
Service, the government agency with the last word in such matters,
said there were too many "villes" in Texas
already and rejected the name.
Another citizen offered the name Tecumseh after the great Shawnee
chief. Tecumseh, Texas had a nice alliterative ring to it, but picky
postal personnel shot it down. Too hard to spell.
Then someone proposed the name Ketemoczy, the German spelling of a
local Comanche chief.
Good luck with that one.
Ketemoczy, a sub chief under Santa Anna, is best known as John Meusebach's
Comanche guide. In February 1847, Ketemoczy directed Meusebach to
the historic meeting on the San Saba River where Meusebach negotiated
a peace treaty with Comanche Chiefs Santa Anna, Old Owl and Buffalo
Bureaucrats at the Postal Service liked the new name and eventually
approved it, but only after deferring to the alphabetically challenged
and changing the spelling to Katemcy.
| Katemcy Road
Photo courtesy Michael
Barr, December 2018
with a post office, life was demanding in the new town. The basics
were hard to come by.
"Guns and ammunition were not so plentiful," a reporter for the Mason
County News wrote, "and most families had dogs to help them catch
the game and keep the varmints chased away from the living quarters.
A good squirrel dog was an asset to every family. The men and boys
would chunk the squirrels out of the trees and the dogs would catch
Dogs were indispensable on the frontier. In fact dogs were the heroes
in 2 of Texas' best novels, Old Yeller and Savage Sam,
written by Fred Gipson. Both stories sprang from the rough country
of rural Mason County.
Of course dogs could occasionally be a nuisance. When Brother Spranger
preached at the brush arbor in Katemcy he always kept a few rocks
on the pulpit to throw at dogs that disturbed the service.
The town grew, thanks to its location on the main drag between San
Antonio and San
Angelo. By 1890 Katemcy had a cotton gin, a grist mill and a saw
mill that hewed rawhide limber out of oak and sycamore trees. Cotton
bales were pressed by a lever pulled by a mule named Sis.
| A church in
Barr, December 2018
the turn of the 20th century Katemcy had 2 blacksmiths shops, 2 general
stores, 2 drug stores, a cotton gin, a barber shop open on Saturdays,
3 churches (Baptist, Methodist and Church of Christ) and a 2-story
school house with 3 teachers and 100 students.
Katemcy had its own telephone system. D. J, Tinney made brooms. The
Woodman of the World established a granite camp near Katemcy. The
camp had a recreation hall and a band.
Actor Dewey Martin was born in Katemcy in 1923. Martin had a supporting
role in the movie Savage Sam, and he was married briefly to singer
Katemcy thrived until 1925 when the population began to decline. Progress
was the culprit. Tractors allowed farmers to cultivate more acreage,
eliminating the need for tenants and sharecroppers.
Then the government built Highway 87 between Mason
and Brady, bypassing
Katemcy by 2 miles. Businesses in the isolated town could not survive.
Cars and good roads gave Katemcians easy access to bigger towns. By
1960 a quick trip to Mason
for a load of groceries and a movie was an afterthought.
The school consolidated with Mason
in 1945. The post office the people had worked so hard to get, closed
After that Katemcy faded into the granite hills of northern Mason
County, still a community but no longer a town.
| © Michael
"The Story of Mason," Mason County News, June 29, 1972.
"Katemcy in 1875: No Fences, No Churches and Few People," Brady
Standard, August 3, 1962.
"Katemcy, Once A Thriving Town, Named For Comanche Indian Chief,"
Mason County News, July 15, 1976.
"The Story of Mason," Mason County News, September 2, 1971.-
"Peters Prairie and Katemcy News," Mason County News, August