| The folks along
Bear Creek in Kimble
County always called the mysterious stone carving the “Cleo Face.”
That is not to say that the Cleo Face is Cleo’s face.
as close to a ghost town as you can get, Cleo
is on Farm Road 2291 about 10 miles northwest of Junction.
Founded in 1880 and first known as Viejo, the post office served the
area for six years before being discontinued.
Reestablished in 1915, the Viejo post office got a new cancellation
stamp five years later when post master Sam Pearson succeeded in getting
the federal mail stop renamed in honor of his niece, Cleo Weston.
The Cleo post
office stayed open until 1974, when the last post master retired.
By all rights, the area should have been called Gentry, after
pioneer settler, Raleigh Gentry. The first resident of what would
become Kimble County,
Gentry built a cabin along Bear Creek, about a mile south of the future
Cleo community, in the late 1850s. In 1862, Gentry conveyed his property
to Rance Moore, a young stock raiser. Moore later sold the property
to N.Q. Patterson, which is where the Cleo Face comes in.
Patterson came with his family to Texas in 1868 from Tennessee. They
lived in Limestone
and then Williamson
County before moving to Kimble
County in 1875.
Patterson became one of the new political subdivision’s leading citizens,
gaining election as the first county treasurer. He served on the first
jury ever empanelled in the county, and beginning in 1877 spent a
year as county judge.
A tombstone cutter by trade, Patterson could not have had a whole
lot of business in that field in such a sparsely populated county.
In 1880, to help make ends meet, he worked as a census enumerator.
He seems to have been an active man, but he suffered from recurring
bouts of what folks back then called “galloping consumption.” Today
we know it as tuberculosis.
some point, while recuperating from an attack by the disease, he had
enough time on his hands to chisel a series of images on limestone
rocks along the creek that flowed through his ranch.
The most notable of those sculptures later became known as the Cleo
Face. By the late 1960s, age had made it somewhat difficult to spot,
but the carefully carved, large-scale face could still be detected
on a large stone near Bear Creek on the old Patterson Ranch.
The face has a broad nose, glinting eyes and a snarling mouth with
long, fang-like teeth.
Some believed the face had been carved by Indians, but Texas Indians,
unlike some cultures in Mexico and Central America, were not sculptors.
Others theorized someone had meant the carving to represent a bear,
or as a totem for Bear Creek.
After the San Angelo Standard-Times published a column about the Cleo
Face in 1969, Mrs. W.E. Allen Jr. of Junction
wrote the newspaper with the answer to the mystery.
TB gave Patterson the time to practice his stone-cutting skills, but
the disease didn’t kill him. In 1898, while in New Mexico, Patterson
got hurt in a horse accident near the mouth of Cox Canyon. He died
from the injuries and was buried near Cloudcroft, N.M.
See Cleo, Texas