This is the fifth article of the ghost town series. Previous articles can be found below:
- Ghost towns of the Concho Valley: Tom Green County
- Ghost towns of the Concho Valley: Coke and Sterling County
- Ghost towns of the Concho Valley: Concho and Schleicher County
- Ghost towns of the Concho Valley: Kimble County
- Ghost towns of the Concho Valley: McCulloch County
- Ghost towns of the Concho Valley: Crockett and Sutton County
Everything is bigger and better in Texas, including the number of ghost towns. According to Texas Highways, the Lone Star State is home to 511 ghost towns, which is the most a state has.
Of these ghost towns, Mason County is home to a combined four.
Located between State Highway 29 and the Llano River on old Menard road in northwestern Mason County is Capitola. According to the Texas Almanac, Capitola was settled in the early 1890s with a post office being established in 1894 under postmistress Sarah E. Jenkins. Jenkins named the town Capitola after one of the most popular novels of the nineteenth century, The Hidden Hand; or, Capitola the Madcap. The community grew to 25 people in 1896. By 1909 the post office was discontinued and the community began to dissipate after the route of the road was changed.
Fly Gap, Texas
Found just 12 miles northeast of Mason in northeastern Mason County is Fly Gap. Legend has it that this community was named from an incident involving a band of settlers who were pursuing Native Americans that retreated from a raid south of the Llano River. The Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) says the settlers tied their horses to a thicket and hid for an ambush in the gap in the Kothmann Mountains. Although the results of the ambush were unknown, settlers returned to their horses to find them badly bitter by horseflies, thus naming the area Fly Gap.
By May 1883 several families settled in the area. In October of 1884, Samuel L. Fleming and Diedrich Kothmann gave a parcel of land for a combination school and church that was built two miles southwest of the ambush. At the new school, Miss Belle Starkey taught, however, the first building was burned in the spring of 1917.
Along with the school and church building, a post office was also established in 1884 with Fleming as the first postmaster. A store was also opened in 1895 by Jacob Oehler. In 1898 the post office was discontinued.
Although the post office was discontinued in 1898, the Fly Gap Community Club, which was established in late 1932, used the school as a community center in the late 1970s. In 1980 the school buildings and town cemetery remained in Fly Gap.
Hedwigs Hill, Texas
Hedwigs Hill is one of the oldest rural communities in southern Mason County, off Interstate Highway 87. Located five miles south of Art, German settlers from nearby Fredericksburg settled the area. Hedwigs is believed to have gotten its name from Christopher Voges and Louis Martin. According to TSHA, Martin’s mother and daughter were both named Hedwig, which is how the town is believed to have gotten its name.
In June of 1858, the first post office of the county was opened in Hedwigs Hill with Martin as the postmaster. Martin’s nephew Charles Martin would follow as postmaster. The TSHA says that Charles Martin also opened the first store with his wife Anna Henriette Mebus Martin. Their store was one of the best-stocked stores in the area, leading them to trade over the area and even started freighting businesses with San Antonio and Austin. The store was also one of the first to sell barbed wire to local ranchers and shipped cotton and livestock to other businesses.
In 1870 the Methodist Episcopal church was established. Over time two more churches were also established in the community. From the late 1800s to the early 1900s a district school was also established along with better local roads which help facilitate travel to larger towns. These roads caused a decline in Hedwigs Hill’s population.
By 1907 the post office was discontinued and the population dropped to 10 from the 1930s to the 1950s. In 1968 the population grew to a reported 63 people and one store remained in the community.
The last dwelling, which is reported to be the home of Louis Martin, was moved to the Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock at Texas Tech University in 1971. The population continued to grow to 85 people in 1974 but dropped to 10 in 1990.
Located half a mile east of Ranch Road 783 in southeastern Mason County is Hilda, previously known as Bear Creek Community. Much like Hegwigs Hill, an overflow of German settlers from Fredricksburg and New Braunfels came to the area in 1855.
In the beginning, settlers often suffered from Native American raids and a shortage of supplies. They often had to travel by wagon to Fredricksburg in order to grind their corn and purchase other items.
According to TSHA, even though preachings began in the area in 1855, Methodists constructed a church in 1856. This cypress log and stone building served as both a church and school but was torn down in 1902 and rebuilt with the original stones. Though the school was the first one in the county taught by Henry Bierschwale, a new school was built in 1893.
Although the community was known as the Bear Creek Community, the name was changed when retired minister Gustave Schulze established the first post office in his store. Emma Schulze was the first postmistress according to the TSHA and named the post office after Hilda Schulze.
By 1914 the town had a telephone service but the post office closed in 1919. A community hall was added in 1920 and 3 families lived in the area in 1939. Most of these families were involved in stock raising. On the 1958 county highway map, only the church and cemetery for Hilda were seen.