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"Hindsights"


Looking back at:

Lost in Fredonia


By Michael Barr
Michael Barr

Calling Fredonia, Texas a town is like comparing a cloudburst to Hurricane Katrina. It needs to grow some to qualify.

Fredonia, for those of you who've never been lost on the backroads in northern Mason County, is a small community just off the main expressway between Llano and Brady.

And just in case you're wondering, the Fredonia in Mason County had nothing to do with the Fredonian Rebellion in Nacogdoches in 1828, and it is certainly not the setting of a Marx Brothers movie.


This Fredonia began in the mid-19th century when a group of settlers found themselves on Lost Creek in what is today San Saba County. Lost Creek got its name because it occasionally sinks out of sight into the sand and gravel in the creek bed.

Homesteaders called the first settlement Deerton, but when they got a post office, they found the name already taken. So they renamed the post office and the town Fredonia after the lady who ran the stage stop.


Fredonia TX - Fredonia  Store
Fredonia Store
Photo courtesy Michael Barr, 9-2021

At some point in its early history Fredonia moved to a better location a few miles south in Mason County. It was the center of business and social life in that part of Texas for the next 70 years.


They say it was hard to find a place to spit or hitch your buggy in Fredonia on Saturday afternoon in the early-20th century. The town had 2 blacksmith shops, 3 general stores and 3 churches. There was a livery stable, hat shop, hotel, mill, gin, jewelry store, tailor shop, boot shop, barber shop and doctor's office in back of the drug store.

The bottom floor of the large 2-story building in Fredonia housed the school. A fraternal organization called the Woodmen of the World rented the second floor.

Fredonia even had a newspaper called the Fredonia Kicker. It merged with the Mason County News in 1910.

For most of its history Fredonia was peaceful and quiet - with 2 notable exceptions.


In August 1884 Samuel Faulkner and Henry Allen opened fire on the Woodall brothers at a camp meeting 10 miles north of Fredonia. The Woodalls took cover behind their horses and returned fire. Allen took a bullet through the heart. One of the Woodalls went down with a bullet through the shoulder.

Then Samuel Faulkner and the other Woodall brother went at it with Bowie knives. According to a contemporary account the wounded Woodall "bleeding to death, urged his brother on," but Faulkner's thrust was on target.

With both Woodalls down, Faulkner turned to look after Henry Allen, but a wounded Woodall brother shot Faulkner with a pistol.

Allen died at the scene, "Faulkner may recover," the newspaper reported, "but both of the Woodalls were fatally wounded." A bystander named Mr. Burner, who tried to intervene, took 2 slugs for his trouble.

The cause of all the shooting was likely an old feud back in Arkansas.


Then in April 1914, 2 guys blew the safe at the post office in Fredonia and got away with a small amount of cash. Authorities tracked the safe crackers to Mercury in McCullough County. The captives claimed innocence although the package of dynamite caps and bottle of nitroglycerine they carried didn't help their case.


The population of Fredonia increased slowly through the 1920s but declined steadily after WWII. The school consolidated with Mason in 1945. Businesses closed up.

Farmers stopped growing cotton and started growing peanuts. The gin closed.

Fredonia gained some recognition in the 1980s as the home of Tee Woolman, World Champion Team Roper. In 1989 a mining company leased 71 acres just west of Fredonia to mine for gold and other minerals, but not much came of it.

Today Fredonia is again that quiet peaceful place it once was, out in the mesquite and prickly pear country in northern Mason County. It has no chance of becoming a town anytime soon.

In fact it appears to be moving, slowly and steadily, in the opposite direction.


Michael Barr
"Hindsights" October 15, 2021 Column

Sources:
"Lost Creek is Found," San Antonio Light, May 3, 1967
"Gold Mining Operation Planned Near Fredonia," Mason County News, January 25, 1989.
"A Deadly Encounter," Abbeville (South Carolina) Press and Banner, August 20, 1884.
"Fredonia Safeblowers Caught," Llano News, April 11, 1914.
The Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association.




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