in a Pecan Shell
Just into the 20th Century, James and Charles Fowler formed the Fowler
Brothers Land Company in an ambitious attempt to sell off and/or develop
100,000-acres that had once belonged to the huge Dull Ranch.
Things looked promising – they had a river for irrigation and a railroad
to take produce to market.
The railroad was the San Antonio, Uvalde and Gulf Railway. The brothers
convinced the railroad to include the modestly named town on their
tracks and they had constructed dams on the Frio river to provide
The town was platted on a grid and 200 miles of public roads were
graded. The brothers also built a cotton gin in anticipation of huge
cotton crops. With everything in place – they set out to recruit settlers,
investors and business people to populate their town.
The land was divided into small tracts sold on generous terms. For
$25 down and $10 a family could get land for crops AND a nice lot
in town. By October 1911, when the SAU&G officially arrived in Fowlerton,
the town was prepared with two hotels, three stores, miles of streets,
telephones and 1,200 Fowlerites. By 1914 nearly 2,000 people were
comfortably enjoying life by the Frio River.
After 1917, a severe drought set the entire area behind and people
started moving to greener and wetter pastures. Bitter farmers blamed
the Fowler Brothers and they were the target of a number of lawsuits
accusing them of fraud.
The town’s decline was immediate. By 1925 the population had dropped
to 600, and by 1931 only six businesses were open. By 1949 the population
had declined to only 300 residents and by the mid 1960s it was only
In 1972 the population was down to 100 (the same as the estimated
population of 1990).
In 1986 one unnamed newspaper called Fowlerton a "near-ghost town."
A recent visit showed Fowlerton to have new street signs for its well-planned
grid of streets. The post office is the dominant building and the
abundance of cactus and mesquite trees arrange picturesque groupings.
Fowlerton Vintage Postcards
TE photo, 8-02
Texas Vintage Postcards:
were used by the Fowler Bros. Land Company to promote their new town.
Fowlerton Backstreets and BB Guns
Dear TE, Thanks for the memories. I grew up around Fowlerton and
Cotulla. My grandparents (Buck and Agnes Turman) lived behind the
general store, set back off the road, apiece, in a quaint red house.
My papaw was a well respected rancher, and my childhood memories
of working cattle at the ripe ol age of 5, or rabbit hunting with
a B.B. gun, riding my horse on the backstreets of town are plentiful.
Such great memories. I used to ride past the old falling-down saloon
and imagine what stories were told there or how many brawls took
place. On my grandfather's land there was an old school. I’d find
old ink wells, and wonder how many children might've walked through
those schoolhouse doors. My papaw also owned an old theater. Not
useable now, by any means, but at one time the patrons watched movies
on a 6 ft wide and 4 ft tall screen that was bordered by old palm
fronds. With no air conditioning, one wall was slatted about halfway
up so air could pass through and there was still remnants of snowcone
syrups, so they knew how to stay cool. My grandmother, still living,
is 95 years old. We live in Bandera Texas now, She knows much more
of Fowlerton's history and I have many more stories to share. -
Demaris Wilson, Bandara, Texas, January 14, 2007
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