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PROVIDENT CITY, TEXAS

Texas Ghost Town
Colorado County, Central Texas S

29 16' 58" N, 96 37' 56" W (29.282778, -96.632222)
Now private property off FM 530
Approx 22 miles SE of Hallettsville
20 miles S of Columbus as the crow flies
Population: Unknown

Provident City, Texas Area Hotels › Columbus Hotels
TX - Provident City  Hotel
Provident City Hotel
Photo courtesy John J. Germann, August 2015

History in a Pecan Shell

The region had been known as "Goldenrod Prairie" prior to development. Provident City started as a land development scheme in 1909 when the Provident Land Company of Kansas City recruited families from the Midwest to move here and buy five-to-ten-acre tracts (sight unseen) for farming, despite that the soil was quite poor. Provident City was off to a good start - which may have surprised the developers. In October of 1910, 500 people assembled to witness a ground-breaking for the promised railroad.

A large hotel was built to woo buyers and welcome the newcomers. A post office opened in 1910, and the town had all essential businesses including a mortuary, a cannery (for future crops), and even a jeweler. But when reality reared its head - and the promised railroad failed to appear, many of the families moved to less isolated parts of Texas - or returned home. By 1914 there were only 150 people left.

In 1915 there were enough people left to report a saloon-keeper for staying open during a school board election - an event that made the Austin newspaper.

The town was almost destroyed by a prairie fire in 1917. The fire, which had been burning for two days was put out by the Herculean efforts of school principal C.K. Kuykendall and every student who was able to beat at the fire with a wet burlap sack. The hotel, church and school were all saved as well as other structures.

World War I brought economic opportunities for the men of Provident City and many more farms were simply abandoned. The Great Depression simply worsened the situation and after WWII there were only thirty people residing here - served by a single business. The post office closed in 1953.

Most of the land is now owned by the Hancock Oil Company who runs cattle on the property. The old hotel is still standing - the last relic of the failed venture.

Historical Marker:

Site of Provident City

Founded in 1909 by the Provident Land Company of Kansas City, Missouri, Provident City was the site of an early land promotion venture. Advertising in the Midwest using photographs showing exceptional farming results purported to come from this area, the company sold land, sight unseen, to many hopeful investors form its holdings of fifteen to twenty thousand acres. Eventually, over five hundred people came to Provident City. The residents were promised a railroad to connect their town with nearby Glen Flora in Wharton County, but it never progressed beyond the roadbed stage. At its peak, the town boasted some twenty-one business, two churches, a school, a bank, a post office, a Woodmen of the World lodge, and an amateur baseball team. Residents of the town soon realized that their land was not as favorable to farming as had been represented by the company, and would not support their families. Within four years of its founding, Provident City was well on its way to becoming a ghost town as disgruntled, bankrupt settlers left the area. The townsite and surrounding acres were bought and turned into a private ranch.
(1986)

TX - Provident City  Hotel
Provident City Hotel
Photo courtesy John J. Germann, August 2015
More Rooms with a Past
Provident City Hotel

Photographer's Note:
"It is the last vestige of an ambitiously conceived and momentarily thriving land promotion. Because it is in the Colorado County panhandle, far removed from anywhere, my friend and I made it our last stop in the county. The locale is not terribly scenic and the only access to it is by miles and miles of a gravel road that is straight as an arrow because it is the remnants of a graded bed for a railroad which never came. While we were there gawking at the fabulous hotel, as out of place as any building could probably be, one of the owners happened to drive up. He was kind enough to give us a little history of the place, and he even offered to take us inside. The building and its grounds are in superb condition, thanks to the attention lavished upon it by the Hancock Oil Company... It is a remarkable testimony to unbounded aspiration and devoted preservation." - John J. Germann

Corrections:
" It is owned by R H Hancock Heirs Inc. (which is obviously owned by heirs of R H Hancock). The facility is not rented out for outside functions, only for family events and purposes. Thanks." - Richard t (Terry) Cullen, Managing partner of the Flanagan Ranchlands division of the R H Hancock ranch property, May 10, 2017

TX - Provident City 1953 postmark info
TX - Provident City 1953 postmark
Postcard canceled with Provident City TX1953 postmark
Courtesy The John J. Germann Collection
Colorado County Texas 1920s map
1920s Colorado County map showing Provident City (S of Columbus) near Lavaca & Wharton County line.
Courtesy Texas General Land Office
Provident City, Texas Area Towns:

Columbus the county seat
Nada
Hallettsville
Colorado County
Lavaca County
Wharton County

Central Texas South

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