Covington is on State Highway 171 twelve miles north of Hillsboro in north central Hill County. The community originated through the efforts of James J. Gathings, who moved to Texas from Mississippi in 1852 and purchased thousands of acres of land near what is now the Covington townsite. He established a large and successful farming and ranching concern, initially based on slave labor, and set aside 100 acres of his ranch for a town, which he named for his wife, Martha Wall (Covington). Lots were offered free to families who would establish homes, build a school, and prohibit the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages. Gathings's generosity was due in part to his desire to open a retail center for his other business, a factory that produced saddles, boots, wagons, flour, clothes, and almost any other item needed by settlers. A steam mill and gin provided farmers with a further incentive to make Covington their place of business, and the community became their retail point. Gathings himself became postmaster of the community when its first post office opened in 1855. To attract more families to Covington, he and his brother Philip established Gathings College in the early 1860s. The school operated till 1885, at one time enrolling 200 students. By 1870 Covington had a population of nearly 500. The town suffered its first setback when the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad bypassed it. In 1904, however, the tracks of the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway reached the community. For the next three decades Covington served area farmers and ranchers as a shipping and retail center. The Great Depression, however, ended its period of sustained growth. During the 1930s the Trinity and Brazos no longer stopped in Covington. In addition, World War II, the growth of Waco and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and the construction of state and federal highways combined to end Covington's growth. Beginning in 1945 its population began a steady decline, from 450 to 270 by the late 1980s. The community reported only one business in 1988. In 1990 the population was 238, and in 2000 it was 282.
At a Glance
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Covington by the Numbers
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|261||2020||United States Census Bureau|
|282||2019||Texas Demographic Center|
|269||2010||United States Census Bureau|
|282||2000||United States Census Bureau|
|238||1990||United States Census Bureau|