The Town of Preston, established in 1838

Founders of the town of Preston in 1838 predicted that it would be the county seat of the new county of Wharton to be formed at the next legislature. They had visions of its becoming a big trading center.

The sale of lots for establishing Preston, originally set for April 21, 1838 was postponed until May 30, 1838, because the surveying had not been completed. An advertisement placed in The Matagorda Bulletin by the landowners reads as follows


February 14, 1838: The attention of the people is called to this town about to be laid off at the head of Bay Prairie, on the land of the undersigned. With coinsiderable population immediatly around and located in the centre of the richest of the richest body of land in Texas -- perhaps in the known world -- it possesses the first requisite of a town -- a surrounding county of such nature as to require a mart and ensure its support.

It is upon the direct road from Matagorda to Bastrop (about 40 miles from the former place) and is the nearest route to Houston, going by the mound and crossing the Brazos at Little's; it is within four miles and a half of the Colorado, the overflow of which will not permit a nearer site, and within two and a half of Caney. The ground is high and perfectly dry -- the water as good as the Republic affords, and the situation in every respect, the most eligible within many miles. A petition will, at the next session of Congress, be made by the entire Northern half of Matagorda county for a separation, and the constituting and defining of a new county. Should it suceed (and there is more number of free male inhabitants required by the constitution for that purpose, this town being cenral and combining more advantages than any other spot in the region, will undoubtedly, be a county seat; and it is unecessary to add, that three - fourths of the agricultural population of Matagorda county, residing thereabout, will, under any circumstances, sooner trade in Preston than ride ten miles or more for that purpose.

Arrangements and making for the manufacture of bricks in the neighborhood and about 20 houses will be commenced as soon as the town is laid off.

To merdhants and business men of every description the opportunity offered is a profitable one, and the proprietors will afford every accomodation to those who wish to build in the place.

Early applicants will be especially favored.

The first public Sale of lots will be upon the 21st day of April next endusing, when a limited number will be offered.

D.David Baker

John Huff

Charles DeMorse


Fopr any information apply by letter or otherwise, to either of the first two near the premises or the last at Matagorda.

Matagorda, Feb. 5, 1838

Preston was never a county seat, but for many years it was the only town in the southern part of the county. All that remains of its existance, so far as is known to date, is the cemetery which was discovered several years ago by Junior Historian Chapter of Boling High School. The cemetery, with its markers fallen, crumbling or almost obliterated by time and the elements, was dedicated and enclosed in an iron fence by the Junior Historians in 1960 to perpetuate the signifigance of this first settlement. Situated about three miles from Iago, on Farm Rd 1096, several hundred yards from the road, the cemetery is now in the midst of huge oak trees.

Although the alluring advertisement of the town declared that the ground was high and perfectly dry, it is conceivable that the town of Preston actually was in a rather poor location.

The rich alluvial soil, boggy with the slightest rainfall, probabley was never high and practically never dry.

Letters dated from 1845 to 1870 indicate that there was a great deal of sickness, and that there were numerous crop failures because of rain or insects or frost or some unforeseen disaster.

Among the earliest known families to live in Preston were these of Maclia Stith, Shadrack Cayce, P. H. Petty, A. E. Thomas, W. T. Stevens, Lemuel Callaway, Freeman George and William D. Callaway. M.M. Callaway and George Callaway. Later the S.P. Rowe family and the Manleys, were prominent settlers.

From its founding in 1838 until Wharton was firmly established as the county seat in 1845 Preston probabley was in its heyday of development. Surrounded by plantations, it was the trading center for those who lived on what was known as "Bay Prairie," and no doubt there was at least one general store, and possibily others.

Isham Thompson was the first postmaster at Preston. He was appointed May 22, 1846, and P.H. Petty followed him in October that same year. Maclin S. Stith took over the duties July 9, 12847, and Phillemon H. Petty was again appointed August 21, 1849 and served until A.M. Hume took over May 25, 1852. For the third time Petty became Postmaster, this time October 1, 1853. He was succeded by Shadrach Cayce April 11, 1854, who served until 1856, and the postoffice was dicontinued October 1, 1857.

In 1847 mail left Matagorda for Columbus by "Northern" route, which meant that it was dispatched by way of Caney and Preston*. (*Colo. Herald, Matagorda Tex 1847)

The town of Waterville, which got it's name from Will's Water Hole and Water Hole Creek near the site of Preston, succeeded Preston as a community center. One may surmise that -- probabley because of its proximity to Caney Creek, and because new families were locating on higher ground to the north and east, Preston gradually disintigrated.

Watervilles first opstmaster was Nehemiah H. Goss, who was appointed January 18, 1859, and he was succeeded by William H. Albertson May 10, 1859, and the office was discontinued January 23, 1867.

Evidence that there were enough families to create a need for postal service is shown in teh re-establishment of a post office at Waterville February 13, 1872, with P.H. Petty appointed for the fourth time. Jack Phillips was appointed Jan. 20, 1875, and Shadrick M. Rowe took over the duties Feb. 9, 1877.

It was in the late 1870's that the population moved still further north and east, and eventually the community was to become known as Iago. Shadrach M. Rowe was postmaster for a year, when Clarence D. Kemp took over; then Charles McMaster was appointed. He served for three months and the postoffice was discontinued. Three years later Kemp once more was appoined, then McMaster served again until it was discontinued for the last time, and Wharton became the nearest office. The Iago office as such was officially established July 21, 1891.

This page transcribed by Janet Barrett Hobizal May 2007,

From a typed copy found at the Wharton County Historical Museum. If you would like more information on Preston or any of the people mentioned contact the museum research department.

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