New Philadelphia

Lissie is on the Southern Pacific Railroad and State Highway 90A in northern Wharton County. Though the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway was completed through the vicinity in 1859, it was not until 1878 that a major group of settlers moved into the area by West Bernard Creek. A station was established next to the railroad, and in 1878 a post office opened. The community grew to have a Methodist church, a hotel, and several other businesses and took the name New Philadelphia. Its settlers moved to the area as a result of a severe depression in Great Britain, beginning in 1876, that caused over two million Welsh miners to be unemployed. In 1878 the Workmen's Emigration Society was formed to send families to Texas. To entice families to emigrate, an advertisement was distributed by William G. Kingsbury, a Texas Land Emigration agent in London. For only 320 pounds, those traveling to Texas would benefit by ownership of "80–100 acres prime grass land, fenced; 4 room house, fenced and containing a 1 acre garden, half of which will be plowed and ready for trees and seeds. A yoke of gentle cattle with yoke and chains ready for work. A plough and farm tools, 4 milch cows and 4 calves, and one average Texas horse with saddle and bridle. The house contains an American cook stove with a complete set of cooking utensils and a water well, pump and cistern near the house. Delivery of 12 hens, 2 pigs and 200 fruit and ornamental trees." A credit of ten pounds a month for groceries would be theirs on demand until their first crop was harvested. The majority of the emigrants came from the Rhymney and Rhondda valleys. Though they reportedly found Texas to their liking, several circumstances doomed the venture. Credit to buy groceries was cut off when funds from the emigration society were not sent. Also, some immigrants arrived too late in the year to plant crops. In less than ten years only five or six families remained.

The area had once been open range for cattle, and this led to disputes. A fire burned most of New Philadelphia, and an old-timer in 1961 claimed it was set "to keep out the cattle thieves and squatters." The community's post office closed in 1891. In the late 1800s John Linderholm, manager of the Southern Texas Colonization Company, Chicago, and president of the Fidelity Emigration Company of Kansas City, Missouri, with offices in Houston, Eagle Lake, and Chesterville, purchased more than 60,000 acres in Wharton and Colorado counties. Residents of the northern states were the primary target for the venture's brochure, Solid Facts About Sunny Southern Texas. The text was credited to Paul Van Dervoort, past commander-in-chief, Grand Army of the Republic. It promised "40 acres a living; 80 acres comfort; 160 acres wealth." Free rail fare was given to anyone purchasing 160 acres. This project proved to be more successful, as those who came this time were farmers instead of miners. They tried planting many of the crops that they had grown in the North, but the soil and weather caused poor harvests. The brochure had claimed that oranges, peaches, strawberries, and other fruits could be grown successfully as well as oats, rye, barley, and other grains. These too proved to be unsuited for that area.

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Merle R. Hudgins | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

New Philadelphia is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists

No

Place type

New Philadelphia is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • (Lissie)

Has Post Office

No

Is Incorporated

No