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Brown County TX
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Suggested slogan: "Inherit Our Wind"

Brown County, Panhandle / North Central Texas

3140'34"N 9847'41"W (31.6759884, -98.7947697)

Hwy 84
12 miles E of Brownwood the county seat
42 miles E of Coleman
54 miles SW of Stephenville
Population: 198 est. (2010, 2000)

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Zephyr, Texas store with ghost sign
The Zephyr Store with ghost sign
Photo courtesy Jason Penney, Aug 2003
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History in a Pecan Shell

The usual definition of Zephyr is a soft, gentle wind. The Blue Norther that pinned down the original surveying party here in 1850 was far from a summer breeze. But surveyors have been known to be a little on the sarcastic side, so they called the place Zephyr and when time came (1879) to apply for a post office, the townsfolk couldn't think of anything else.

When the railroad extended their line from Brownwood to Lampasas, the Zephyrites moved the grocery and post office the mile or so to the tracks. People had long since stopped laughing at the irony of the name when a tornado destroyed most of the town in 1909, leaving 20 people dead.

Now, primarily a farming and ranching community, Zephyr was once dependent on cotton until the boll weevil came to town. Our visit in June of 2000 showed several new businesses in this tidy little place.

Zephyr Texas Community Center, former Presbyterian church

The Community Center in Zephyr, Texas.
It was once the Presbyterian Church.
Photo courtesy historictexas.net
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Historical Marker: (Bowsal and 2nd Streets, Zephyr)

Zephyr Presbyterian Church

The congregation of the Zephyr Presbyterian Church traces its history to 1890. In 1909 members of the church and community volunteers, with the assistance of Swiss stonemason John Chailette completed a church building. Worship services were held twice a month by a minister shared with the nearby Blanket Presbyterian Church. Sunday School classes, summer Bible school, and ice cream suppers sponsored by the church contributed to the social and religious life of the community until 1944, when the church was disbanded. In 1948 the building became a community center.

Text of supplemental plate:
In 1948 this building was donated by C. R. Boase to become a community center for the benefit and pleasure of its citizens.

Zephyr TX - Zephyr Gospel Tabernacle
Zephyr Gospel Tabernacle
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
TE photo 2001

Historical Marker: (Hwy 218, 1 block E of US 183, Zephyr)

Zephyr Gospel Tabernacle

In 1898 John N. Coffey (1847-1919) and John Schwalm (1825-1900) deeded this site for a community tabernacle. Townspeople donated labor and material to erect this open air shelter and to rebuild it after damage from a 1909 cyclone that devastated Zephyr. Many towns in Texas once had tabernacles like this for summer church revivals, political rallies, and social events. The Zephyr Home Demonstration Club led community restoration of this structure in 1976.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1976

Zephyr Cemetery gate Texas
Zephyr Cemetery
Photo courtesy historictexas.net

Historical Marker: ( center of cemetery, junction of US 183/84 and CR 259, just S of Zephyr)
Zephyr Cemetery
The unincorporated town of Zephyr, located on land granted to early settlers Benjamin Head and Felix Wardziski, was established in the 1860s. As the settlement grew, a school was opened in the 1870s, and churches and businesses were established. Mail was delivered weekly from Brownwood.

This cemetery has served the residents of Zephyr and the surrounding area since the 1870s. The earliest known burials in the graveyard are those of three children of the Staggs family, who died in 1878 and 1879. Another early grave is that of Ann Catherine Sewell Ward (1843-1879).

The first official deed of cemetery property took place in 1899, although it was in use prior to that time. Subsequent land acquisitions have increased the size of the graveyard to more than seven acres. Among those buried here are thirty-three victims of the devastating tornado of May 29, 1909, which almost completely destroyed the town, and veterans of six wars: the Mexican War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The Zephyr Cemetery stands as a reminder of the pioneer spirit of the area's early settlers. It is maintained by the Zephyr Cemetery Association.

Zephyr Cemetery in Texas
Zephyr Cemetery
Photo courtesy historictexas.net

More Texas Cemeteries

TX - Brown County CR 306 Iron Pony Bridge
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, December 2008
Brown County CR 306 Pony Bridge
1936 61 foot Iron Pony Bridge, still in use, over Blanket Creek, a little over a mile east of Zephyr on CR 306.

TX - Zephyr school
The Zephyr Public School Building
Photo courtesy THC
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Zephyr Texas church
Zephyr, Texas store
TE photo 2000

Zephyr TX - Cotton Yard and Ware's Gin
Cotton Yard and Ware's Gin, Zephyr, Texas, circa 1910
Courtesy Will Beauchamp Collection

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Zephyr, Texas Forum
  • Subject: My Mother's Story
    According to stories my mother was born in Zephyr, Texas in 1931. Her name was Betty Sue King. There is no birth certificate. According to stories, my mother's mother was standing on a bridge in distress and said she could not afford to keep her baby. She was then taken to Plant City Fla. by a man named J. V. King. I assume he was the babies father. She was then adopted by a childless couple, the Glovers, who were my grandparents as I knew them. I have always wondered about these stories. Have done geneology research to no avail. My children and I just want to know who we are. Thank you. - Sincerely, Margaret Brown McDonald, November 02, 2016

    Subject: Zephyr Tornado
    I thought you might enjoy this story.
    My grandmother who is now deceased, passed through Zephyr the afternoon of the tornado. The family consisted of her, her mother and father, and her three siblings. They were all in a covered wagon traveling to Lampasas. She was 13 years old. They had stopped at an old abandoned rock building to stay the night in Zephyr, but her mother (who was 1/2 Cherokee Indian) felt uneasy staying there with clouds building up, so they went on toward Lampasas, and camped out about 5 miles further down the road. The old building was leveled that night of the storm. If they would have stayed there that night, they would probably have all been killed. - Sincerely, Tommy Eaton, MarbleFalls, December 20, 2006

  • Subject: Zephyr's 1909 Tornado
    My great-grandparents, Annie Ola Gibbs Cloys and Millard Fillmore Cloys were in the 1909 cyclone that hit Zephyr. As a child, my grandmother (their daughter) had told me the story of how her father had come home from a town meeting, and as he sat down to take off his shoes, the cyclone hit. The baby, Gibbs Cloys, age 2, was killed in the cyclone, and is buried in Zephyr Cemetery. My great-grandfather was seriously injured, and the family left there and came to Trinity where they had family, and where I now live. He died a few days after they got here, and is buried with the rest of our family here in Trinity. After I became an adult, my husband and I went to Zephyr, and I took pictures and did a rubbing on Gibbs Cloys' gravestone. It made the story real that my grandmother had told me so long ago. I would like to visit Zephyr again and learn more about its history. - Kaye Thornton Henry, Trinity, Texas, October 14, 2006

  • Thanks for providing pics of the town buildings and the bit of history on Zephyr, TX. My husband's gt. grnadmother was born there 19 May 1893 and named Ell Vance Cotten, dau. of W.B. Cotten. She married Percy Eugene Bawcom 24 Dec. 1911 in Rising Star, - my next town to look-up! Ell died 26 Jul. 1923 in Wichita Falls, TX. from heart problems & is buried in Rose Mount Cemetery. Such a short life, wasn't it? I copied your article on Zephyr to add to my family history notebook. Thanks so much for placing this article for all to see on your website. - Sonja Dodge Pampa, Texas, July 31, 2006

  • Subject: Iron Bridge Picnics of Zephyr
    My name is Shelly Smith. I'm from the little town of Zephyr. I graduated from Zephyr High School in 2005. I would like to say most everything you have on zephyr is correct. there is one place you forgot to mention. This place is called Iron Bridge Road as my great grandma (Zephyr grad 1929, still alive) has said that the iron bridge has been a place of history that is where they used to go and have picnics. Next time you're in Zephyr, the Iron Bridge would be a good place to take some pictures, that is where the Class of 2005 took their senior class picture. I just thought you would be interested in this place. - Shelly Smith, March 02, 2006

    Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and recent or vintage/historic photos, please contact us.

  • Zephyr, Texas Area Towns:
    Brownwood the county seat
    Coleman | Stephenville

    See Brown County

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