Pottsville was first settled in or about 1870. The migration of settlers into Texas was at its peak around 1850 to 1860 but had not progressed this far due to the Indian population. Hamilton was established in 1858 but the election of Lincoln and the threat and eventual war pulled all the militia out of the area. In 1857 the Hamilton County Minute Detachment of Mounted Texas Rangers were stationed on the Cow House Creek 12 miles south west of Hamilton at Camp Hamilton. After the war, men from Hamilton and Erath counties joined with the militia to push the Comanche and Kiowa onto reservations... Before and during the war years many settlers were attacked and killed in Hamilton, Comanche and Erath counties. Ann Whitney the school teacher from Hamilton was killed in 1867 on the Leon River north of Hamilton.
Once the fear of Indian attacks lessened migration of cattlemen and farmers began again in earnest. The early settlers in the Pottsville area included, the Potts, Burks, Pattersons, Brattons, Hoovers and Grogginess. The Hoovers were attacked by Indians in the early 1870s, so there were still some random attacks after the reservations were established. Some histories say that Mr. Hoover was killed by the Indians while he was crossing a gap between the two hills near his home others report he was saved by neighbors. These hills were called the Hoover Knobs to honor Mr. Hoover, one of the first settlers in the area.
The land for the town of Pottsville was donated by Edmund T. Goggin on the condition that no intoxicating liquor would ever be sold within the town bounds. The community got its name from one of the earliest settlers, Captain John Potts who served as a commanding officer in the civil war under General Sterling Price. His wife was a cousin of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy. He was a prohibitionist, a founder of the Pottsville Baptist Church and donated the land for the Pottsville Cemetery. He lived on 240 acres near the present town of Pottsville. His home was on land now owned by the Klubniks. In 1872 he paid 500 dollars in gold for the land. On Christmas of that year he and his son killed wild turkeys and took them to the Hoovers for Christmas dinner.
The post office was established in 1879 with Thomas Jefferson Burks being the first postmaster. He named the post office Pottsville in honor of Capt. John Potts. He died in 1901 and is buried in the Pottsville Cemetery.
The first school was established in 1876 and was taught by Alice Goggin, Edmund’ daughter. The first school was located where the community center is now and it later became the Primitive Baptist Church building. A new school was built at the present location in 1916 and it was replaced in 1950’s with the brick building still standing.
Ezekiel Manning built the first gin which was put in behind the Gromatzsky Brothers store.
The gin was run by a steam engine and the water with which it was run came out of a dug well on the F.W. Bryan’s small field.
In 1889, F.W. Bryan and his family had come to Pottsville. For many years he and his son, Jarrett were retailers in Pottsville. Mr. Bryan had a dry good, grocery and hardware store. He also carried caskets in a building where the post office now stands. He installed the first gas pump when cars started arriving in the area.
Traveling men called drummers frequented the area with goods in wagons which went to homes in the area. Mr. Bryan used his house as a hotel and had a livery stable and served meals for travelers. His house is the home of my brother and his wife, Billy and Lou Kinsey. Sue Bynum’s home was Dr. Cleveland’s home. All building materials and provisions had to be hauled from Waco in wagons for the first stores.
The first telephone office was established in 1908 and was run by Mrs. F.W. Bryan and her daughters Mary and Betty in their home. The Bryan’s had moved here from Gentry’s Mill where they originally settled in 1882. They came to Pottsville in 1889.
Trinity Lutheran Church was the first Lutheran Church in Pottsville being organized in 1891 and services were held in McGirk and Baptist Cove School until 1907 when O K Rea and Fred Riewe donated land for a church near Pottsville. That church burned in 1937 and a new church was built at its present location. In 1953 it had 246 members. Immanuel Lutheran Church built in 1914 by Germans and Norwegians and the pastor served as teacher for the parochial school until 1950. The church disbanded in 1975. The Church of Christ was organized in 1902. The church building was ruined in a tornado in 1944 and the brick structure was built at that time.
There were 2 Doctors, Dr. J.R. Rieger from 1876 to 1890 and Dr. W.R. Fowler who came in 1890 and Dr. C.C. Cleveland who came in 1921 and later moved his practice to Hamilton.
I have a map of Pottsville in 1920 which I made with instructions from Forrest McPherson and mother, Ina Kinsey. It shows the location of buildings and where roads were located before paved roads came to the Pottsville area. Three cemeteries are located in Pottsville attesting to the fact that before cars came to be commonplace, Pottsville was indeed a thriving community with schools, churches, general merchandise stores, physicians, blacksmith shop, barber shop, gin and telephone office.