Taylor County community
of Potosi is not big
enough to have a whole lot of stories connected to it, but there are
First, a little background: Potosi
is nine miles southeast of Abilene.
Unlike many small towns, given its proximity to the capital city of
the Big Country, it has actually grown in recent years. In the 1920s,
however, it was down to only 20 or so residents and well on its way
to being a ghost town. Today, more than 3,000 folks call it home.
The community proper dates to 1880, when folks in that part of the
county built a Methodist Church. Though the church burned down four
years later, it was rebuilt and in 1897 a one-room school house went
up. But settlement in the area goes back to 1870, when one John Lytle
had the distinction of being the first known resident of the area
that would come to be called Potosi.
first story involves Lytle. Why Potosi is Potosi is the second story.
A young man originally from Tennessee, Lytle lived in a dugout near
a spring. He made his living rounding up wild horses and selling them.
He did pretty well for himself. There being no banks around, or any
other businesses for that matter, he safeguarded his money himself.
Most of that money, the story goes, was gold.
Four years after digging his dugout, a sweep of hostile Indians through
the area made it expedient for him to travel elsewhere-in a hurry.
He buried his money and rode toward Austin.
Stopping somewhere near Austin,
the place isn't specified, he took sick. He sent word to his family
back in Tennessee that, as the saying went, he was in a "dying condition."
A relative made it to Texas, but by the time he arrived, Lytle had
grown too ill to talk. Because of that, no one ever knew where he
had established his "bank." Lytle was buried, and his accumulated
worth likewise stayed buried somewhere around his old dugout.
The Red River War of 1874-1875 effectively ended the Indian threat
to West Texas. Sporadic
raids continued a couple of years longer, but for the most part, the
country was safe to settle.
Others moved to what would become Taylor
County, then still an unorganized part of Eastland
County. One of those arrivals was Bob Barker. One day a man Barker
had hired to do some grubbing for him arrived carrying an old iron
kettle. He said he was leaving.
"Wait for Mr. Barker to return to pay your wages," Mrs. Barker said.
The hired man hefted the kettle.
"I don't need it," he said. And left, presumably with Lytle's gold.
addition to a classic treasure story, Lytle left behind his name.
There's Lytle Cove, Lyle Creek, Lytle Gap and Lytle Lake. The settlement
that developed in the area also became known as Lytle.
By 1893, Lytle had a general store and a cotton gin. Bob Pollard,
the man who owned the store, figured an up and coming place like Lytle
needed a post office, too.
When he applied for a permit, however, Washington rejected it because
there was another Lytle
somewhere. Pollard flipped through the first book he could find looking
for a more suitable name.
What he came up with was Potosi, inspired by the Mexican city of San
Luis de Potosi.
West Texans, of course, don't pronounce it the same way they do in
Mexico. In Taylor County,
the community is known as PA TOE SEE.
However its pronounced, Potosi by the beginning of the 20th century
had more than 100 residents. A Baptist church complimented the Methodist
church and in addition to the general store, there was a dry goods
store, a couple of blacksmith shops, and a cotton gin.
Potosi still has a store and a grill, but if you need a place to keep
your money, you'll have to do your banking in Abilene.
Or bury it like Lytle supposedly did.