Olivia is near the junction of State highways 172 and 159, fourteen miles east of Port Lavaca in eastern Calhoun County. It is on a peninsula that is bound on the west by Kellers Bay, on the south by Matagorda Bay, and on the east by Carancahua Bay. William Arnold was the original grantee of the land on which Olivia is now situated. During the later 1800s the Clements and Mitchell families grazed cattle on the peninsula. Olivia was established in 1892 by a Swedish Lutheran colony led by C. J. E. Haterious of Galesburg, Illinois; he bought 13,565 acres from J. D. Mitchell. Haterious named the settlement after Olivia, his wife. Among the first settlers were the families of A. G. Bergstrom, M. L. Cavallin, John Lind, Nels Larson, Charles Johnson, Pete Swenson, Gust Swenson, Olaf Martinson, Eben Williams, Bengt Fyher, and J. F. Skogberg. The new residents brought in a small cotton crop in 1893, but they had to travel to Edna in Jackson County to have it ginned. The next year local farmers purchased a small plantation gin, which they set up on Carancahua Bay, just east of Olivia. In 1896 Olivia had a general store and semiweekly mail. Charles Erickson established a mail and freight service to Olivia in 1903. In 1904 a community school had one teacher and forty-four students. The town had 200 residents in 1914. By 1927, however, its population had dropped to fifty. In 1932 the completion of the Hug-the-Coast Highway linked Olivia with towns in Jackson County. Electricity was available to Olivia residents by 1934, and that year local planters formed the Olivia Cotton Growers Cooperative Marketing Association to gin cotton for its members. In 1939 four teachers instructed seventy-five students through the ninth grade, but by 1955 the school had been absorbed into the county school district. The town grew throughout the 1960s and reported a population of 200 in 1972. In 1990 through 2000 its population was listed at 215.

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.

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Olivia by the Numbers

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Pop. Year Source
215 2009 Local Officials