Gillett is at the intersection of State highways 80 and 119, sixteen miles north of Karnes City in northern Karnes County. The site was first settled around the time of the Civil War at the junction of the San Antonio-Victoria and Helena-Seguin roads. In 1869 Carl Edward Riedel constructed a dam on nearby Ecleto Creek to power his sawmill, gristmill, and cotton gin. The small settlement that developed was named in his honor, but when the community applied for a post office in 1871, postal officials inexplicably changed its spelling from Riedelville to Riddleville. By 1882 Riddleville had, in addition to Riedel's industries, a Methodist church, a school, a physician, and two general stores. Daily mail came from Helena and Luling by hack. By 1895 the town had a third general store and congregations of Methodists, Baptists, and Cumberland Presbyterians. Among its most notable residents were author and industrialist Max Krueger, horse-trader Sarah Jane Scull, and pioneer airplane builders Prentice and Arthur Newman. Gunfighter John Wesley Hardin also reportedly resided there for a time. In 1905 residents petitioned to change the town's name to Gillett in honor of E. G. Gillett, a lawyer and newspaperman in Runge who encouraged the town's development. During the early 1900s Gillett developed into a trade and social center for northeastern Karnes County. In its heyday between 1910 and 1920, Gillett had a post office, a school, a hotel, a cafe, a meat market, a barbershop, a pool hall, a wagonyard, a cotton gin, a physician's office, a blacksmith shop, a Woodmen of the World lodge, two general stores, two drugstores, and two saloons. A community church served congregations of Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, and Cumberland Presbyterians. With the advent of the automobile, three garages were built at the community. Gillett's population grew to 200 by the mid-1920s but declined markedly during the drought of the 1950s. The community's school closed in the 1970s. In the early 1990s Gillett was a center for a cattle-raising area. The former school building was used as a community center. Gillett reported a population of 120 in 1990 and again in 2000.
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