Frio Town

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Frio Town, Texas
Frio Town Cemetery
Frio Town Cemetery
CountryUnited States
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)

Frio Town, known as Frio City before 1886, is a ghost town immediately south of the Presido Crossing on the Frio River in Frio County, Texas, United States.


Located sixteen miles northwest of Pearsall, the town was laid out by A.L. Oden in 1871. The river crossing it lay near was named for the fact that numerous cannonballs, swords and sabers were found there. Juan De Ugalde in the 18th century, Antonio López de Santa Anna in 1836 and Adrián Woll in 1842 were all thought to have used the Presido Crossing.

The first mail to the town was delivered by horseback from Benton City, later it arrived by stagecoach from San Antonio. In 1871 Frio City became the first county seat in Frio County history. Carting cypress shingles from Leakey, L.J.W. Edwards completed the first Frio County courthouse in January 1872. The same year the town's stone jail was built. The jail eventually housed such famed outlaws as Sam Bass, Jesse James, Frank James and writer William Sydney Porter. With the rise in construction, high cost building material from out of town became impractical and led to the establishment of a cypress shingle mill, brick factory and lime kiln in Frio City.

In 1872 the town started delivering its own mail with the establishment of a post office in Frio City with James McClain Elledge at its helm. The town's first merchant was in the person of Levi J.W. Edwards and the first school in Frio County was a private home in Frio City. During the 1870s a local chapter of the Freemasons was established. In 1877 the courthouse burned down and was replaced by a two story native stone building, funded in part by wealthy local resident W.J. Slaughter. The new courthouse reportedly once had an ornate walnut staircase. In the mid-1870s Indian attacks in and around Frio City caused the Texas Rangers to be called in and many frontier residents sought shelter in town. The last major Indian attack in the area occurred in the spring of 1877.[1]


Frio City became known as a "cowboy capital" and cultural center during the 1870s. By the 1880s estimates of its population hovered around 1,500. Well known evangelists John Wesley DeVilbiss and Andrew Jackson Potter preached in the area and the Rio Grande Baptist Association was organized in Frio City in 1880. That same year the International-Great Northern Railroad extended through Frio County though it by-passed Frio City itself.[1]


With the establishment of the town of Pearsall along the rail route people began to leave Frio City. By 1883 Pearsall had become the county seat and in 1886 Frio City changed its name to Frio Town. W. Yancey Kilgore purchased the Frio Town courthouse in 1884, it later housed a general store, the post office and in 1884 the Frio Academy.

By 1890 the population had fallen to 100 and in 1906 17 pupils attended the two teacher Frio Academy. The town slowly dwindled into obscurity even with the addition of telephone connections in 1914. During that year Frio Town housed a general store and six cattle breeders. In 1929 the town contained a school and five homes. In June 1930 the Rio Grande Baptist Association celebrated their 50th anniversary at the site of the old courthouse.

By 1953 the townsite was mostly abandoned and a Mrs. A.C. Roberts owned most of the structures including the courthouse and roofless jail. The town's population remained steady at 20 throughout the 1960s and even jumped to 49 in 1969. By 1990, all that remained of the once bustling Frio City was the Frio Town Cemetery and the largely intact ruins of the original courthouse and jail on the private Roberts Ranch.[1] The ruins of the courthouse are considered a historic courthouse by the Texas Historical Commission.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Frio Town, Texas: Handbook of Texas Online, University of Texas at Austin
  2. ^ Historic Courthouses: Texas Historical Commission

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 29°01′10″N 99°18′10″W / 29.01944°N 99.30278°W / 29.01944; -99.30278