Otey is on Oyster Creek and the westernmost extension of Farm Road 655 in northwestern Brazoria County. Otey is the site of Palo Alto, an antebellum cotton plantation that was owned by Robert and David G. Mills. The two brothers operated several plantations in Texas and are reputed to have been worth as much as $5 million before the Civil War. Among the largest slaveholders in antebellum Texas, the brothers were bankrupted during the Reconstruction years and lost most of their estate to creditors. The land surrounding Palo Alto and the land of neighboring former plantations was bought by the Texas prison system in 1908 and formed into the Ramsey State Farm, a penitentiary originally intended for recidivists over the age of twenty-five. In 1911 Otey registered a post office serving the farm and in 1914 a population of 700 and a physician. Around that time Ramsey Farm listed a population of 624 inmates. The Sugar Land Railroad sent a six-mile extension from Anchor to Otey in 1916, a line that has long since been abandoned. The population of Otey declined to 150 in 1958, and by 1973 its post office had become a rural station of Rosharon. By 1990 Otey was a community of 318 located deep inside the parameters of the 15,040-acre Ramsey Unit of the Texas Department of Corrections. Tucked away behind the guarded roadblocks of the prison, the welcome mat reads "Warning. You are about to enter a maximum security unit of the TDC." The Ramsey agricultural operations at that time included field and edible crops, livestock, a dairy, a dehydrator, and a gin. Other operations included furniture refinishing. In 2000 the population was still reported as 318.
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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