Monday, October 1, 2007

My Favorite Ghost Town In Texas

From all those cowboy movies, you'd suspect Texas would be full of ghost towns. And you'd be wrong.

Texas has numerous abandoned former town sites, but a place like California has more, and better preserved, ghost towns than Texas. A big part of the reason is climate. Only far west Texas has a dry desert climate; the remainder of the state (again, contrary to those cowboy movies) gets plenty of rain and humidity to accelerate the decomposition of wood structures. And, unlike states further west, many settlements in Texas were made of wood instead of stone, brick, or adobe. The buildings in many old settlements burned, collapsed due to the elements, or were torn down and "recycled" into new construction. As a result, foundations and scraps are the main things found at most Texas ghost town sites.

There's not too much left at Peyton Colony, and what's left is rapidly falling apart. But it's my favorite Texas ghost town because it had its origins in 1865 as a post-Civil War settlement for former slaves. It was named for Peyton Roberts, a former slave who organized the settlement. It's located in the Texas hill country in Blanco county near the intersection of Farm to market roads 165 and 2325, about seven miles east of the town of Blanco.

The main surviving building at Peyton Colony is its schoolhouse:

The school operated until the 1960s-----as a segregated school-----when it was closed and the remaining students bussed to newly integrated school in Blanco. It was briefly converted to a community meeting center, but it's apparent from a look into the interior that it hasn't been used for that purpose in a long, long time:

Most of the remaining buildings at Peyton Colony are in a state of collapse and will soon be gone. About 30 people live in the area now, but they live in doublewide mobile homes which, one hopes, will prove a little more durable than the dwellings and buildings used by their ancestors!

Peyton Colony had a post office until 1930, when the declining population resulted in its closure. I understand most of the current population is elderly, so this site could be completely depopulated in the near future. Perhaps they will be the last to be buried in the Peyton Colony cemetery, which has several graves from the nineteenth century.

Yes, it's not to much to look at today. But try to imagine when the first newly-freed slaves arrived at Peyton Colony, with all their hopes and dreams of a better life where they weren't just someone's property. . . . . it will be tragic when the last buildings fall here and this piece of history is forgotten.

Somebody needs to preserve this site.