in Lavaca County,
the little community of Sweet
Home quietly exists between the cities of Hallettsville
It is a pleasant place where the residents can reside in a country
atmosphere without being too far away from the grocery stores, hospitals,
and other services provided in the nearby towns.
According to the Handbook of Texas Online, Sweet
Home once served as a winter camp for freight and cotton wagon
trains hauling supplies from Alleyton
during the Civil War. The first post office was established there
in 1852 and a fellow named George West established a store and a
hotel in the community in 1860.
Because he built the first major businesses in town, George Washington
West is credited, by many, as being the founder of Sweet
Home. However, the Sweet
Home we know today was not the original community, because in
1887 the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway built tracks about
five miles south of town.
George West was smart enough to realize that being near the railroad
would be mighty profitable to him - with this in mind, he sold his
buildings in what would soon become known as "old town" and moved
his establishments closer to the railroad tracks.
Other settlers joined West in his move and by 1890 the new community
Home had six stores. The railroad abandoned the town in 1937
but the place still grew some and by 1948, it was reported to have
12 stores, a recreation hall, and a church. The population stood
at 350 in 1948 and by the year 2000 was only reported to have 360
Home, George West went on to lead a mighty interesting life.
Born in Tennessee, West moved his family to Lavaca
County, Texas, in 1854. The home he established in Sweet
Home became a stage stop and the community sort of grew up around
It seems that West was one of the first men to drive longhorn
cattle from Lavaca
County to the railheads in Kansas during the years 1867 and
1868. Records indicate that in 1870 he landed a government contract
to deliver 14,000 longhorns to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in
This cattle drive from Lavaca
County, Texas, to Montana could qualify as one of the longest
on record because the destination was only 100 miles from the Canadian
border. What is also amazing, even though he was the youngest man
on the drive, West was the trail boss. During the 1870s, he made
many more drives to Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska, and the Dakotas.
In 1880, West and his wife, Katherine, moved to Live
Oak County. It was only the two of them - they had no children.
While living in the county, West purchased a 140,000-acre ranch
and 26,000 cattle. He founded the town of George
West which was part of that ranch. In 1882, West had a herd
of 80,000 cattle when a terrible drought hit the area - he lost
so many cattle in the drought that he had to sell half his ranch.
Author J. Frank Dobie said that West told his cowboys to chop off
the left horn of every dead steer and pile them up at the ranch
headquarters. It is said that the pile grew higher than the gate
post and the number of dead cattle was estimated to be up to 20,000.
George Washington West, the founder of Sweet
Home (Lavaca County),
would go on to many other endeavors. Around 1900, he sold off the
last of his ranch holdings. Being a generous man, he supplied the
funds to build a $75,000 courthouse and a $50,000 school - West
is also credited with paying for highways, bridges, public utilities,
and even a hotel.
In 1904, West moved to what would be his final residence in San
Antonio. He died there on Feb. 16, 1926.