left, Milam County Jail and Courthouse
in a Pecan Shell
Nashville, Texas on the banks of
the Brazos, had served as the seat of Milam
County since the time Texas was declared a Republic. In April
of 1846 the Texas Legislature authorized a commission to find a more
permanent site for the county seat. These men bought sixty acres on
the Little River that year and named the new town in honor of Ewen
Cameron's first courthouse was finished that same year and county
records were transferred from Nashville.
Alone on the prairie and fifty miles from the nearest railroad depot,
early residents had an opportunity to become well acquainted with
Attempts were made to navigate the Little River in the late 1840s
and early 1850s. In 1850 one of these attempts proved successful when
Capt. Basil M. Hatfield managed to bring his steamboat up the Little
River to about 2½ east of town. Cameronians rejoiced and a two-day
celebration was held. Sadly, it was learned that only after heavy
rains could a boat get through. Regular service was out of the question.
Cameron had other problems in the 1870s. When the International-Great
Northern Railroad came to Rockdale,
people started suggesting Rockdale
as perhaps the best location for a county seat. Elections were held
in 1874 and 1880, and Cameron scraped by on both occasions.
Finally in 1881 the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway arrived and
Cameron felt secure. Ten years later the San Antonio and Aransas Pass
came through. In 19th Century Texas there were two blessings. One
would be having a hometown boy become Governor - and the other was
to get a second railroad.
Before the railroads,
Cameron only had 500 citizens. After the railroads
arrived it was suddenly up to 800 and by 1892 the population had reached
Milam, for whom the county was named, is one of Texas' legendary
heroes, losing his life in San Antonio early in Texas' battle for
- Lou Ann Herda
was the town's 19th Century economic engine, the 20th Century brought
more diversified industries. Williamson County had discovered oil
in 1915 so Milam County
began their own exploration. It paid off in 1921 with "the Minerva-Rockdale
The building of
the Alcoa aluminum plant in the 1950s revitalized the local economy,
but recent environmental concerns have dampened enthusiasm.
Cameron lost its rail connection to Giddings
in 1959 when the Texas and New Orleans railroad pulled out of Milam
County and the Southern Pacific (in 1977) abandoned the rails
connecting Cameron with Rosebud.
The 1890 courthouse has been restored in recent years and the entire
top (which had been removed as a hazard) has been replaced with
an accurate (but lightweight) replacement.
The former jail is now in use as the Milam County Historical Museum.
Just east of town across the Little River is the Pioneer Cemetery
- where earlier residents are interred. The city cemetery is now
close to downtown, a stone's throw from the courthouse and jail.
Besides a collection
of murals on downtown walls, there are also a few advertising artifacts.
These Coca-Cola signs were
painted over a five-county area by "Eddie and Monk" - when Cameron
had its own Coca-Cola bottling works.
Ghost sign just east of the square.
TE Photo, 2004
More Ghost Signs
bins east of town
TE Photo, 2003
in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas,
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photos, please contact