by Eugenia Pittard
from “The History of Coleman County and Its People,” 1985
The town of Valera came into being in 1904. It was on the railroad and nestled in a little valley along Home Creek. One story goes that the town was named for the daughter of a Frenchman who once owned a large tract of land in the area. Another variation is that the Frenchman was the foreman of the railroad building crew. The town grew into a thriving little village in the ‘teens through the 1930’s and was taken from the Cleveland Ranch. Street names, beginning with east-west streets and moving to the north: Louisiana, Main, Prince (Pearce), Owen, Anson, Lipscomb, and Young. North-south streets from west to east were: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth.
The first depot was built in 1886 when the railroad was first built, but was later moved away. Another depot was constructed in October or November of 1904 when the town started. W. H. (Will) Rush was the first depot agent. He also operated the first Valera Post Office and grocery store. Will DuBois later became depot agent, then Tony Escue - for many years. In later years, Henry Spears and Randolph Burroughs were agents. Throughout the years, many telegraph agents worked at Valera, among them were Chet Pauley and J. P. Spears.
In the early 1920’s the Post Office was moved to another location. Highway 67 was rerouted to bypass the business part of town in 1952, the Post Office was then relocated on Highway 67 in 1954. In 1905, J. B. James constructed a building and put in a grocery and hardware store. In about 1912, after the town had grown, he needed help so he suggested that his daughter, Lucy Rodden, put dry goods in part of the store. She was glad to do that, since she loved that kind of work, and this would be hers. Asa Britton ran the first wagon yard.
The well in the middle of the street was dug by Shorty Milam and was rocked in 1905. Business people along Main street used the well, and travelers would stop and fill their canteens with the cool, refreshing water. To the north there was a right-angle turn, the roadway was not as wide as present highways are; on several occasions, truck drivers, unfamiliar with the highway, failed to negotiate the curve and turned their trucks on their side. One was loaded with eggs, one with chickens and another with oranges. The townspeople retrieved most of the oranges, some of the chickens, but they nearly had to leave home because of the odor of spoiled eggs. During the years, other uninvited guests came crashing through yard fences almost to the houses on this dangerous corner. A block to the east of the well, there is another landmark that people remember about Valera - the double dips. Many unsuspecting travelers on the highway would come upon these dips with too much speed, and they would get quite a surprise. A few have been airborne for a few feet.
In about 1904, the Humphrey Lumber Company of Ballinger put in a lumber yard, later bought out by the Concho Lumber Company. D. E. Mead was manager, and Ethan Rodden was bookkeeper, later John Alsdorf, George Pauley also worked there. About 1908, Pauley and D. E. Mead put in a hardware store and tin shop in one side of the lumber yard building. Pauley remained there until 1916, when the store was relocated down the street to the west, when he sold out to Jim Mead. George Cain became manager of the lumber yard, followed by Gilbert Webb, and later by Charles Sewell. Through the intervening years, Burton-Lingo bought the lumber yard, and in about 1942 the yard was moved to Coleman. Rob Saunders and Mr. Smith put in a mercantile store in its place, and it closed in 1918. They then put in a Saunders-Smith Store in Coleman.
In 1904, Mr. Crenshaw, Henry’s father, came to Valera and put up a tent town for workers to stay in while the buildings were being built. Mrs. Crenshaw cooked for the workers. He later built a 2-story hotel. In 1907, Mrs. Virginia DuBois came to Valera from Leon County with her 3 sons, and bought the hotel. Will DuBois was depot agent, later agent for many years at Santa Anna. The eldest son, Norman, went back to Leon County, another son, Ira, was a barber for many years in Valera. He later moved to Coleman. Among his partners through the years were: Bill Crimes and Wesley James. Later Dick Thompson and R. C. Hinds barbered there. The hotel was bought back by the Crenshaw family, and remodeled by Jack (Henry’s brother) in more recent years, he sold it to Robert Ervin Moser, who resides there now.
A rock building was constructed in 1916, and the hardware store was moved there. It was owned by Ethan Rodden, D. E. Mead, Jim Mead and Ned Thompson. Along with the hardware store went the tin shop. Several years later, Andrew Morrisson had a leather shop there. For many years Miss Lucy worked in the store. She had a corner at the front of the store for dry goods, piece goods, and threads, etc. Overland cars were sold at the hardware store; they later sold Maxwells. Lucy ran the store for 4 years after Mr. Rodden’s death.
In 1915 a bank was organized and it shared a corner part of the Lumber Yard building with the Pauley hardware store. It was later relocated west of the rock building, built in 1916, and next door to the D. E. Mead Hardware Store. E. Clyde Harvey from Kansas was the first banker, coming to Valera from Dallas. The first Board of Directors consisted of Dr. H. H. Mitchell, president; George Pauley, vice-president; H. A. Byrom of Voss; Andy Broyles of Talpa; Ethan Rodden of Valera. Jim Mead later bought in after the bank was organized. The Harveys moved to California in 1919. The bankers through the years were: B. F. Cray, cashier; Oscar Beck, cashier for a short time; Theo Criffis, cashier; Steve Brown, assistant cashier. Theo and Steve and Dorothy Carroll were with the bank when it was moved to Coleman in 1937. B. F. Mitchell and Eugenia Pauley also helped in the bank.
In December of 1924, when the highway was being built through Valera, the Rathiff brothers came to town and spent the night with a friend. They found out that Blackie Conger, who had charge of issuing the paychecks to the highway workers, had put the payroll in the bank. Early the next morning, they entered the bank with overcoats over their arms, told the workers to hand over the payroll, and they locked B. F. Mitchell, Theo Griffis and Steve Brown in the vault. The alert was sent next door to the hardware store through an emergency device. The men were soon released, but the robbers had escaped. They went on to Cisco and pulled the Santa Claus robbery there, but were caught in that incident. Some years later, another robbery occurred. George Mulanax was the night watchman. Some men entered Hiram Martin’s Red and White Store and rolled his safe off down toward the creek, and damaged it considerably. But to ensure that they were not interrupted, they took George (Froggie) out away from the location and tied him up to a tree. He finally escaped, and so did the thieves.
In 1910, J. O. Brown put in a dry goods and grocery store. In a few years, he went bankrupt and closed out. An “opera house,” a wooden building, was built adjoining this grocery store on the east. Moving pictures were shown there, and other programs were presented. In the front part of the building, a space was used for a shoe repair shop, run by Dave Cole. This wooden building burned in 1920. A rock building was later built and Haywood Miller put in a grocery and dry goods store. Still later, in the 1920’s, J. N. Forehand operated a grocery store at that location. In the early 1930’s. Henry Crenshaw opened a grocery store and an ice house here. The small ice house was at the side of the building. From this place, ice was delivered daily to residences in town. Cards were displayed in specified windows in the homes, so the “ice boys” would know how many pounds would be needed for the day. They brought the ice in and deposited it in the ice boxes.
Dr. H. H. Mitchell knew the town and community needed a drug store nearer than Coleman and he persuaded a Mr. Pool to come and open a drug store here. He was succeeded as druggist by Johnny Walker, later Ben Thompson. In 1917, John Ehrler built a drug store next door to the bank building. Dr. R. F. Line moved to Valera from Oklahoma and became the druggist. He was a doctor but never practiced here. His daughter, Opal (later Opal Pauley) worked in the drug store for several years. A filling station has replaced Dr. Line’s home. Dr. Mitchell had his office in the rear of the store, but later partitioned off an office at the front of the store. He was the typical country doctor for the whole area: Voss, Fisk, Leaday, Gouldbusk, besides Valera. After his death, Valera was without a doctor until Dr. R. M. Burns came, 4 or 5 years later. After he left, about 1937, Valera never had a resident doctor. By this time, good roads and cars had brought Coleman and Valera much “closer” together. Dr. Line closed his drug store here about 1937. In a short time, Paul Maedgen, a former drug salesman who came through this area often, put in a drug store in the bank building which was now vacant. Several people in the community kept their valuable papers in the vault in the drug store.
In 1917-1918, Dr. Mitchell built 2 rock buildings. J. S. May put in dry goods and groceries in one. He was known as “Big John” May and his cousin “Little John” May (so-called because of their physical build) worked next door at the P. B. Shannon store for many years. “Big John” later moved to Melvin and put in a store. A grocery store replaced Mr. Shannon’s home. P. B. Shannon came in 1918, and put in a department store in the other rock building. Groceries were on one side; dry goods, piece goods, work clothes, dresses, and shoes were on the other side. The Shannons left Valera about 1928. They had 3 children: Mary Lucy, Katherine, and P. B. Jr., now an attorney in San Angelo. Mr. Davis, father-in-law of B. F. Gray, the banker, was a clerk there. In later years, other grocerymen came on the scene at these locations; H. H. Martin from Voss put in a Red and White Store, then Farrell Henderson.
In 1917, Henry Marcus owned and operated a garage and filling station. The blacksmith shop was built in 1904, with George Cain the first blacksmith; later Space and Walter Riddle, Will Lauder, and Mr. LeMay. The Pepper brothers, Pink, Joe, and Walker put up and ran a flour mill in about 1917-1918. It burned in 1918. Ned Thompson built the first cotton gin, his son, Henry, ran the gin for awhile. Lester Freeman and Floyd Holhinger from Talpa came in and ran it later. Mac Cuiffis bought it then. The three Pepper brothers bought it; one man, Ernest LeSueur, lost an arm while working there. Ray Mulanax put in a filling station. He closed his garage in about 1943. The building is still there and is owned by Robert John Candler.
In 1905, a Stafford family built a 2-story building, with living quarters upstairs. The building was a mercantile store. It burned, and Ned Thompson later built a big tin building and put in a furniture store. It even sold caskets. Later it became a feed and grain store, and was run by Woody Tabor for many years. After his death, Morris Tolleson, his son-in-law, ran the store.
Mrs. Dave Cole had a millinery shop in her home, later she moved her shop to a rock building next door to the grain store. In the east side of that building, J. D. Carsey had a shoe shop. He repaired shoes and made boots. This was in the 1930’s and early 1940’s.
In about 1924, C. R. Allen moved here from Gouldbusk, and put in a small grocery store and cafe. He made and sold bar-b-que. In about 1926, Elsie and Curtis McMeans came here and put in a cafe in the same location. It was later moved to the present location on Highway 67 in “Upper Valera.” When Curtis and Elsie first came to Valera the Atlantic pipeline was being built. They cooked and served breakfast every morning (hot biscuits, bacon and eggs) for about 100 men. They also fixed lunches for all these men. Their workday began at 4 o’clock each morning. Curtis’s father had come to Valera the year before and had put in a meat market.
In 1908-1909, Dave Cole put up a building and sold general merchandise. Bro. Gates and his stepson, I. J. Allen, bought out Mr. Cole. While they were remodeling the store, but before they opened, with much of the goods still unpacked, the building burned. They put up a tin building, and sold what goods that were not burned. Mr. Allen then moved to Coleman. B. H. Bennett bought him out and he put in a big mercantile store.
Mrs. George Cain ran the first switchboard in her home. Later Cleva and Henry Crenshaw bought it out and moved it down to their house. The telephone was a new convenience to a small town. All calls went through “Central.” That was a way to keep up with all the goings-on in the community. Bob and Nora Mann had a rooming house. There was an electric light plant in the early 1920’s. It was run by John Sanders. Electricity was generated by means of big tractors. It was available to all those in town who wanted it. Valera also had natural gas for fuel. Lone Star piped gas into Valera in the early 1920’s.
D. King had a hamburger stand in the 1930’s. He could make delicious
hamburgers for 10 cents and a cold drink for a nickle.
There was a poultry house. During turkey selling season, Ed Jones, manager, would send out word for the turkey pickers. Turkeys were bought, killed, picked, and prepared for market there. Many teenagers were able to make some spending money, which was not easy to come by in those days. Mr. Jones bought and sold chickens and eggs, and chicken feed.
In the 1920’s and 1930’s Wortham Carroll operated the Magnolia Petroleum Wholesale Supply, now called Mobil. He delivered oil and gasoline in barrels to farmers throughout southwest Coleman County. Later he bought a tank truck. The supply tanks were located on about the same location as the first wagon yard. His home was nearby. Later Loyd Browning took the dealership. At present, Coleman ‘‘Jack’’ Parker runs the Mobil truck - the agency now owned by Fred Rudolph in Coleman.
During the 1930’s, Valera had a “rodeo” - mostly goat roping, running a tournament (catching rings on a cue while riding a horse at break-neck speed) and even a parade down Main Street. This lasted a few years. This was probably a hold-over from ranch activities in earlier years. This location was also the site of many early day baseball games for fellows in the community. They played Voss, Brown Ranch, Couldbusk, Leaday, Talpa and others in the area.
many years there were picnics at the Springs on Home Creek. The first
picnic was held in 1898, when Billy Anson told the people of the area to
bring food and he would furnish the meat. This annual occasion continued
for many years. It was a great place for the community to get together
under the shade trees. Just across the creek west from the picnic
grounds were the polo grounds used by the Anson family while they lived
in the Rock house. The area population in Valera is around eighty,
according to the 1980 Texas Almanac. Today (1983) Valera has a post
office, a cafe and two gas stations.