Charco, on State Highway 239 some fourteen miles from Goliad in northwestern Goliad County, was settled by at least four members of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred. Spanish explorers in the eighteenth century recorded that an Indian village was located at this site. The Spanish charco means "pool" or "watering hole," a name suggested by the numerous bodies of water that once dotted the area. The name is also said to come from an Indian designation for the locality, referring to a petrified stump near a watering pool. A post office was established in the area in 1855 and was moved three times before it was discontinued in 1954. Settlers farmed corn, cane, hay, and especially cotton, and also raised cattle and mules; one local entrepreneur bred Shetland ponies, which for years were in demand throughout the United States and in some foreign countries. By 1904 Charco had a population of 113 and was a dry town, except for a short-lived saloon that was closed by the commissioner's court in 1906 and its owner "reimbursed for ingredients on hand." The first church for the community was built through the efforts of the widow of John Freeman Pettus, a veteran of the battle of San Jacinto. In time Charco had Methodist, Baptist, Church of Christ, Catholic, and Pentecostal churches. At one time the town had a druggist, a gristmill, two blacksmiths, two barbershops, two garages, two cotton gins, several piano teachers, three stores, and a variety of other shops. The last general store there had opened in 1903 and did not close until 1973. The community's population declined from 250 in 1925 to 150 by 1933 but stabilized at about 150 until the mid-1960s. In the 1930s the local one-room school became the short-lived Charco Independent School District. After the boll weevil killed the area's cotton crop, the gins closed, and cattle ranching again became the major industry. As sharecroppers moved on, the town dwindled. In the 1960s a television program described Charco as a ghost town, although population statistics from 1970 to 1986 reported sixty-one residents there. The community's population was listed as sixty-eight in 1990 and ninety-six in 2000.
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Charco by the Numbers
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