Morales is on State Highway 111 in northwestern Jackson County. After the arrival of settlers from the United States, the area was part of the Jonathan Vess grant from the Mexican government. The town, originally called Morales de Lavaca after its position northwest of the Lavaca River, was named after Frank (Seco) Morales, a blacksmith who worked his forge on the site in the 1840s. The community grew during the years of the Republic of Texas and early statehood and by 1860 had a post office, a general store, and a Masonic hall. During Reconstruction, however, Morales experienced a period of extreme lawlessness. It was the site of numerous killings, and travelers opted for routes that avoided the settlement. Residents formed a civic-minded vigilance committee, but it seemed to prefer hanging horse thieves and cattle rustlers to local murderers. Despite the town's bloodthirsty reputation, by 1870 it had added a gin, a telegraph office—the first in Jackson County—and four saloons. A gristmill and a sawmill followed and were joined soon afterward by several churches and a school. Morales was on its way to becoming a thriving municipality, but the railroad bypassed it, and it declined quickly. From 1925 to 1945 the population was fifty, and by 1949 it had fallen to twenty-five, where it remained in 1990. The population almost tripled by 2000, reaching seventy-two.
Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.
Stephen L. Hardin | © Texas State Historical Association
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