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McCulloch County TX
McCulloch County

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Texas Ghost Town
McCulloch County, Texas Hill Country

31°23'45"N 99°35'56"W (31.3957169, -99.5989535)

Where FM 503 meets FM 765
12 miles N of U.S. Hwy 87
28 miles NW of Brady the county seat
128 miles NW of Austin via Hwy 71
55 miles E of San Angelo on FM 765
90 miles S of Abilene
Population 74 est. (2010, 2000, 1990)

Doole, Texas Area Hotels
Brady Hotels

Doole TX
"The stadium is in pretty bad shape and snakes are a serious concern." - Carla Foft, 2011
Doole in 2011

Doole, Texas

by Lanelle Crumley

August 5, 2007 was a day of celebration for the Baptist Church at Doole, Texas. The church served a catered lunch to mark their 95th anniversary.

The early settlers of this small community wanted to name their town in honor of a prominent family in the area (The Gansel Family), therefore this farming and ranching community was originally known as Gansel, Texas. Residents decided to establish a post office in approximately 1911 and ask the postmaster at Brady, Texas for advice. The postal service in Washington D.C. said that the name Gansel was unacceptable, so the settlers named their post office and town after David Doole, Jr., the postmaster at Brady.

My Grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. S. C. Crumley, Sr. (“Lum” & Alta) bought several acres of land approximately 7 miles S/E of Doole in 1909. Mrs. Crumley gave birth to 13 healthy children. My Dad was one of the thirteen. This large family grew cotton, corn, sugar cane and various other crops. They also raised cattle, hogs and chickens.

My Mother was a young school teacher from Rochelle, Texas. She taught at East Gansel School in 1932 and 1933. The school was located approximately 4 ½ miles S/E of Doole. The CRUMLEY brothers and sisters walked 1 ½ miles to school at East Gansel every day except on days when their parents needed help in the fields. After my Mother finished the school year in May of 1933, she married one of the Crumley brothers (my Dad- age 21). They married in Millersview, Texas (west of Doole).

East Gansel School closed in 1936. All of the students were transferred to Doole along with the students from Stacy, Texas.

I was a student at Doole Elementary School in the 1940’s. Students were transferred to Melvin, Texas after completing the 6th grade at Doole. The year was 1949 and the community was far from being a “ghost town”.

I have fond memories of Ruby Page Allen, postmaster, at Doole Post Office. She was in charge of the post office for many years. Her husband, George Allen, was my favorite school bus driver. Another favorite was Fred Betsill. He owned and operated Betsill Grocery Store from 1932 to 1988. The abandoned building at the top of this web page was once operated by Oscar Betsill. Another name that will be long remembered is Molly Meyers. She owned and operated a small store and café. The café was a favorite with the local farmers and ranchers. Others living in Doole: The Vineyard Family, Hap Betsill, Mr. Gray (the garage man), The Wiggington Family and many others.

Farming and ranching was the occupation of choice for the majority of Doole, East Gansel and Stacy, Texas residents. Life was good until a drought hit during the late 1950’s. Can you imagine - no measurable amount of rain for 7 years? Most of the farmers moved to other locations. Many were forced to find new occupations in order to survive. This is the primary reason Doole, Texas became a “ghost town”.

A treasured way of life was lost in the 1950’s and early 1960’s and a large portion of McCulloch County is now used for hunting only.
- Lanelle Crumley, September 3, 2007

Doole Elementary School, 1946-47, 5th & 6th grade, Doole Texas
Doole Elementary School
5th and 6th grade class, 1946 - 1947

Photo courtesy LanelleCrumley

Doole Elementary School, 1941 first grade,  Doole Texas
"Photo of the first (and maybe the second) grade class at Doole in 1941. We are standing on the steps of the brick school building that was for the high school kids. Lower grades were in a two room, wooden building near the rock fence to the West. My aunt, Dorothy Watkins Davis taught the third and fourth grades. and Mrs Bitters taught the first and second grades." - John Davis, June 29, 2015

Visits to Doole, Texas

Doole Baptist Church, Doole Texas
Doole Baptist Church
Photo courtesy Lanelle Crumley

We are reminded of Groucho Marx's response when a woman asked him to hold her tight (while he was already holding her). "If I hold you any tighter, I'll be behind you." If Doole were any closer to the Concho County line, it would be in Concho County. It's interesting to note that many ghost towns are just over (or just this side of) a county line. The legislation demanding county seats be centrally located killed the economy of these towns, just as surely as if they were by-passed by the railroad.

Gansel was what Doole was originally called, but that was denied by Washington when they requested a Post Office by that name. Brady's Postmaster David Doole had been advising them, so they requested one in his name and it was granted.

Doole's former high school stadium/baseball field had concrete bleachers and was built on a hill. This gives it the appearance (if one has a good imagination) of a Mayan ball court or a Roman amphitheater.

If you're on an unhurried trip, then a short drive to Paint Rock would be in order. Doole still holds it's own ZIP code (tightly). It's 76836.

Ruins with cactus
Once the High School Stadium. Come early or you'll be sitting on Cactus
TE photo, 2001

The Ruins at Doole

Several overgrown houses offer some good photo opportunities. Porch swings, cactus and clothesline poles. The High School Stadium with its native stone walls and cement bleachers are just west of "downtown." Rubble from somewhere has been pushed over into the southern part of the stadium.

Recent rains have deposited a sea of mud that looks like a solidified lava flow at Pompei. A 1957 Plymouth with its trunk open has been left in what might have been the parking lot. The weathered houses and the unique stadium/amphitheater make Doole a memorable ghost town.

© John Troesser

Porch with cactus
Porch with cactus in Doole
TE photo, 2001

Closed store in Doole Texas
A closed store in Doole
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, January 2006

Doole TX
"The ticket office is still in excellent condition."
Photo courtesy Carla Foft
Doole in 2011

Nearby Destinations:
Within 60 miles are:
Ballinger, Coleman, Brownwood, to the North
Brady, Menard, Fredonia to the South
See Texas Hill Country

Doole, Texas Forum
  • Subject: A little history of Doole, Texas
    I certainly enjoyed reading the comments by Briggs Browning, Lanelle Crumley, and others.

    My name is John D Davis. I was born in Doole on, December 16,1934.

    Dr Land from Lohn, Texas came to attend to my Mother Esther Reed Davis and I. My dad John D Davis sr died of the flu in 1935. My Mother Esther Reed Davis, my Sister Marywil and I lived in Doole until 1949.

    I remember the Red & White Grocery Store on the hill a little North of the intersection of highways 765 and 22. (They were paved and not numbered roads when I lived there) The store was operated by a nice man by the name of Russian Wells. My friend Joe Bob Snodgrass lived with his family near the Red & White store. Mr. Ryan had a mechanics shop next to the store.

    Going further North, near the turn off to go to the school was where one of my friends, Jerry Mac Betsill lived with his folks. This is where the stadium is and where I enjoyed playing softball with my friend Rex Reynolds and others. My Uncle Bee A Davis managed the men's softball team. He and my Aunt Dorothy had a son named Wayne.

    As I remember, you went further North you would come to Porters Cafe and Filling Station on the West side of the road. Mrs Porter made hamburgers and the best pies.

    On the other side of the road was Grays Machine shop. Mr Gray, his son Jacky and daughter Regina lived in a house next door to the shop. An Indian man known to me as Chief was always at the machine shop.

    Later a cafe operated by Mollie Meyers opened down the way. The food was very good, you could also get some grocerys and there was a butcher shop.

    Next door was the post office operated by Ruby Page, She had a daughter named Anita, and a son Bobby Lynn. Across the street was a grocery operated by Mr and Mrs Powers. They had a daughter named Joyce. She was my first girlfriend. Another service station was on this side of the street, but I can't remember who operated that service. Behind the service station to the East was my cousins house. Pet Reed, his wife and family, Bill, Joe Dale and Bobby (memory is failing) lived there. Very near Pet's house was my Aunt Mollie and Uncle George Vineyard's house. They had four older children Estelle, John Bill, GM and Wyrie.

    As you proceded further North on the East side of the road was the Powers house. There was a turn off road going to Charlie Mexican's farm. (Sorry I didn't know his last name, but that is the way he was known.) His farm bordered ours, and we visited regulary. I only remember one of his children's name. She was a very nice girl named Concho.

    Across the street was an open lot where the tent movies would show Gene Autry and Tarsan movies. Some times a roller skate rink would come to town, and there were several medicine shows with magicians and dancers.

    Next to that was the barber shop, and my friend Richard Conkright's (spelling) house. Richard's dad operated the Doole telephone service.

    Next to that and still standing is the Baptist church. I listened to many a sermon there, but it may not have done much good (haha). Further North of the same side of the street was the Methodist church. Then you were pretty much on your way to Stacy and the Colorado river.

    One thing of interest might be the time I went with the men's club of the Baptist church went to tear down the hotel at Stacy. It only took a few hours and the wood was recycled to make changes to the Baptist church in Doole.

    Names that come to mind: Janell, Maurine and J.W. Vineyard, my cousins. J.A. Martin, W.D. Martin, Windell (Bogger Red) Martin. Hazel Brown, Verba Crumly, A.M. Coalson, his Dad Alf Coalson, Wes Coalson, Bobbie Coalson. Just a few of my friends from long ago. - John Davis, Henderson NV., June 17, 2015

  • Subject: Doole, Texas
    My name is Lanelle Crumley. I was born near Doole, Texas in 1936. I truly enjoyed reading a recent article by John Davis of Henderson, Nevada. I’m hoping that my suggesting a few minor corrections would not hurt his feelings.

    Paragraph 3. of the John Davis wonderful article talks about Mr. Ryan. I just thought about mentioning Mr. & Mrs. Ryan’s son. His sons name was Ronnie and I assume he was born in 1936 because he was in my first grade class which was taught by Mrs. Bitters.

    Paragraph 9: The farm that was worked by a very nice Mexican man named Charlie probably had a last name of Lopez. They had several children. One was named Concho and I know for a fact that her last name was Lopez. She was one grade ahead of me in school and I remember her well.

    Paragraph12: My parents had a firm rule in the 1940’ and 1950’s. The rule was; go to the Baptist Church 3 times per week.

    John mentioned something about a Methodist church down the road. There was no Methodist Church - it was Church of Christ.

    Paragraph 14: Names that come to mind: No Hazel Brown. Her name was Hazel Browning – sister to Briggs Browning.

    No Verba Crumly - She is my cousin and her name is Verba Crumley.

    I hope you do not think I have been too critical because I absolutely loved John’s article. He has a wealth of important historical information. I will always love Doole, Texas and have very fond memories of growing up there. - Sincerely yours, Lanelle Crumley, March 01, 2016

  • Subject: Doole, Texas
    In 2011 my boyfriend and I took a Labor Day road trip to several of the Ghost Towns listed on this web site. I was looking for some inspiration for a sequel to my book and my boyfriend was just looking for an opportunity to leave town.

    We went to several sites around Brady, TX and had a great time. The best site we went to was at Doole. The stadium is, unfortunately, continuing to fall into ruin at an alarming rate. So anyone interested should plan to see it in the next few years. The rock retaining wall is still very much intact in most places and extremely fascinating. Both Jim and I were intrigued by the amount of time and effort it must have taken to build all of the structures associated with the stadium. The ticket office is still in excellent condition and I have included a picture of me leaning out of one of the windows. There was very little of the seating area still discernable and snakes are now a big concern. So when you go, wear some sturdy leather boots with non-slip soles and strong denim jeans. Definitely no shorts, Capri pants or sandals.

    The cemetery was interesting as well. The site was on my Tom-Tom GPS and it was well worth finding and visiting. - Carla Foft of Midland, TX, September 28, 2011

  • Subject: Doole, Texas
    The picture you have shown of a house with cactus in front was my grandmother’s home Willie Daniels. She and my uncle Sam Daniels lived there until the 70’s. - Lessie Sunvison Koester, June 03, 2008

    My grandmother lived in the center of Doole in the 50's - 70's. Prior she lived off a county road between Doole and Stacy. I remember the store located not at the 4 way stop but further north past the school and next to the Post Office. Molly Meyer owned and operated the store. At that time there were 3 grocery stores, post office, Doole Baptist Church, gin, and the unused school. There were skating parties in the high school gym. My grandmother and uncle are buried in the cemetery in Stacy, Texas north of Doole about 6 miles. - Lessie Sunvison Koester, November 22, 2005

  • Doole, Texas
    I have hunted for several years about 5 miles from Doole and really haven't paid much attention as I stopped at the blinking 4-way light on my way to eat catfish in Brady. Since I read your article I am paying more attention to detail and have stopped to see the sights referenced.

    I agree with another visitor, this land is some of the harshest in Texas. Every plant, bush, vine, tree or living thing can and will hurt you if you don't pay attention. That being said, the rugged beauty of the country is mesmerizing and I keep coming back for more. There is a small grocery store at the crossroads called "Mavericks" and as far as I know it represents the only commercial activity between Valera and Brady. Unfortunately, the store keeps somewhat sporadic hours and one never knows if it will be open.

    The deer, turkey, quail and dove hunting is some of the best I have ever experienced anywhere. If you can avoid being bitten, stung, scratched or stuck by the bugs, critters and scrub you can enjoy yourself. Oh yeah, there are days in Doole country where the wind blows through at incredible velocity creating dust storms and resituating anything not tied down. Could be that's how the 57 plymouth came to be where it is!

    I was fascinated by the story about the black panther. While I haven't seen a black panther myself in the area, I did see what I believed was a mountain lion or wildcat last year where I hunt. The coloring (solid blond) and size suggested the animal was not a bob cat and it was way to large to be a feral cat. I elected to believe it was something other than a wild cat because there are just too many undisturbed rabbits and other small game animals in the area. - David Williams, November 2, 2005

  • My family has owned 3 sections of land a mile from [Doole] forever. When I was a kid I saw a black panther on our properly. Then about 10 years ago I saw another one. The land there is very harsh. It seems the only things that grow there are cactus and mesquite trees. In the spring watch out for rattlesnakes!!! They are everywhere!!! There is something mystical about that land though, for as rough as it is, there is beauty in the roughness. It is the best hunting of all of my family's property. And for as long as I can remember one man has leased it for grazing from us.

    It saddens me to think that with land, some people only see $ signs and not the inherent beauty of the unforgiving landscape." - Bill Davison, January 15, 2005

  • I went to Doole on Saturday, July 28. Just wanted to let you know that the general store is boarded up. I visited the bleachers and was welcomed with shots from a rifle. No, I don't think they were shooting at me, but they sure didn't stop! Everytime I walked away from my car, the shots were more frequent and when I stepped back inside, I could hear the rifle being reloaded. Wild! Needless to say, I left there rather quickly! - Lisa, July 29, 2001

  • TX McCulloch County 1940s Map
    McCulloch County 1940s map showing Doole near Concho County & Coleman County line
    From Texas state map #4335
    Courtesy Texas General Land Office

    Take a road trip

    Texas Hill Country

    Doole, Texas Nearby Towns:
    Brady the county line
    San Angelo
    See McCulloch County | Concho County | Coleman County

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