Photo courtesy Ernie
in a Pecan Shell
Brothers Levi, Israel, Riley and Billy Harkey are credited with founding
the town in 1856 along Wallace Creek. With their parents and four
sisters, the initial population was just one short of the current
population. In time the family bought the land on which the town now
sits. Harkeyville once challenged San
Saba for the role of county seat but was defeated. It’s proximity
to San Saba was the town’s curse.
The town once had all essential business and even a racetrack. The
first school opened in 1879. A fire destroyed the town’s gin in 1920
and the racetrack was put out of business by a rival in San
Saba. The school merged with San
Saba in 1929 but the town somehow managed to keep operating through
the Great Depression.
The town was dealt the last blow in the early 50s when it was bypassed
by Highway 190. The population of the community was only 40 in 1949
and it declined from there to 12 (1968-2000).
The town received a historical marker in 1974.
Historical Marker Text
A site once famous
for its horses and racetrack. Riley Harkey (1832-1920) and Israel
Harkey (1835-1914) were Indian scouts in Texas in 1850-53. In 1855
they led their parents, Mathias and Catherine Harkey, to move here
from Arkansas with other adult sons, daughters, in-laws and grandchildren.
The families ranched, and Mathias Harkey ran a country store for many
Riley Harkey brought to Texas a fine, fleet footed mare, who with
her racing progeny drew crowds of enthusiasts to this site for half
a century. Other sons and grandsons of Mathias Harkey also joined
in the breeding, training, and racing of horses. Stores, blacksmith
shop, and other businesses all faced east on a single street overlooking
the flat with its racetrack and baseball diamond. There was no post
office, but the village was so well known that mail addressed to Harkeyville
promptly arrived here.
On Nov. 26, 1873, George W. Barnett (1823-1885) gave land for the
first school; the schoolhouse was used also for church services and
The racetrack closed in 1907; the cotton gin burned in 1920, and was
not rebuilt; school consolidated in 1929 with San
Saba. The last store closed in 1954. A community hall, built 1973,
marks site of the town.
Saba County 1920s map
From Texas state map #10749
Texas General Land Office
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