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GILLETT, TEXAS

Karnes County, South Texas
Highway 80 and Hwy 119
56 miles SE of San Antonio
25 miles N of Panna Maria

Population: est. 120

Where to Stay - Gillett, Texas Area Hotels
San Antonio Hotels

Gillett TX Cotton Gin
Photo courtesy William Beauchamp, February 2011
See Texas Cotton Gins

History in a Pecan Shell

Electo Creek
had several towns founded along its banks. Here, a Mr. Carl Edward Riedel dammed the creek in 1869 and set up a small gristmill shortly after others had settled there.

They decided to name the town in his honor when the time came for a post office in 1871. The postal authorities granted the application, but misspelled the name as Riddleville.

The town underwent a change of name in 1905 when newspaper publisher E.G. Gillett of Runge was honored for his contributions toward Riddleville's development.

The town's location made it a hub of activity for NE Karnes County.

The town was practically self-sufficient with post office, hotel, café, two stores, two saloons, two drugstores and a school.

By the prosperous 20s Gillett had a population of nearly 200.

See
Old Riedel Dam and Early Industries Historical Marker
1920s Karnes County map

Gillett TX closed businesses
A few relics from more prosperous times
Photo courtesy William Beauchamp, February 2011
Gillett TX old business
Photo courtesy William Beauchamp, February 2011
Gillett TX street scene
Gillett street scene
Photo courtesy William Beauchamp, February 2011
Historical Marker (on FM 887 West of Hwy 80)

Old Riedel Dam and Early Industries

250 yards west lie the remains of a pioneer dam built in 1869 by Carl Edward Riedel to supply the power for his sawmill, gristmill and cotton gin.

That year another German immigrant, Max Krueger, helped install Riedel's gin — first steam cotton gin in Karnes County. Shortly before, Krueger had built the barracks to house 50 U.S. Cavalrymen near Helena. Within 2 years a town grew up near Riedel's industries and was named Riddleville in his honor. On June 9, 1871, the U.S. postal records were moved from Ecleto post office (3 miles up the creek, where Kelly's Stage Stand stood) to the post office here.

Between 1870 and 1886 Riddleville was one of the 5 principal towns in Karnes County. It was located at the crossing of the Helena-Gonzales Road and the Yorktown-Sutherland Springs Road. In 1876 its population was about 75. In 1905 the name of the town was changed to Gillett.

With lumber from his mill, Riedel had built a hotel, which was destroyed by fire about 1905; but he immediately built a second hotel. Many homes and business houses in this area were constructed of Riedel's lumber, which can still be found today in existing Karnes County buildings.
(1969)
Gillett TX - Riedel Dam Historical Marker
Photo courtesy William Beauchamp, February 2011

Gillett Chronicles

The Gillette Cowboy by Lois Zook Wauson
Gillett Texas church




Gillett Baptist Church
TE photo
Storm cellar
The storm or root cellar is all that remains of one business
TE photo
Gillett Texas old stores
TE photo
Karnes County Texas 1920s map
1920s Karnes County map
(Gillett above "E" in "Karnes", near Wilson and Dewitt County line)
Courtesy Texas General Land Office

Getting There
From San Antonio take Hwy 87 South 41 miles via La Vernia and Sutherland Springs to Stockdale, from there take Hwy 119 South 14 miles to Gillett.

Where to Stay - Gillett, Texas Area Hotels
San Antonio Hotels

Related Topics:
South Texas | Texas Town List | Texas Ghost Towns | Texas
Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic photos of their town, please contact us.
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This page last modified: April 17, 2011