Water Valley is on U.S. Highway 87 and the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway twenty-two miles northwest of San Angelo in northwestern Tom Green County. Among the early area settlers was Capt. William Turner, who arrived around 1878, established the Whitbarrow Ranch, and built a stone house that served as a rest home for soldiers during World War II. The town was founded by two men known as Phelin and Glynn, who dammed the North Concho and dug an irrigation ditch. The town was subsequently settled largely by English immigrants. The post office, known as Yandell, Argenta, or Stella from 1885 to 1888, was called Rethaville, Mayes Store, or Mayesville from 1888 to 1889, and became Water Valley in 1889, when S. S. McCrary and J. O. Hanson renamed it. In 1914 the community had a population of 175, a general store, a gin, and two cotton buyers. The Water Valley station on the Concho, San Saba and Llano Valley Railroad was used for freight shipments only. The local school, which replaced teachers in private homes, had forty-eight pupils and one teacher in 1900, sixty pupils by 1920, and four teachers in 1931. State highway maps in 1936 showed two churches, a cemetery, a school, a post office, and scattered dwellings at the townsite. Between 1900 and 1930 the population rose from 132 to 157, but it declined significantly during the Great Depression. The maximum number of businesses was seven in 1933. By 1939 the local school had 157 elementary and sixty high school students. The population returned to 140 by 1940 and rose to a high of 180 in 1953. From 1973 to 1990 Water Valley had 120 residents and a maximum of three businesses. While the reported population remained the same in 2000, the number of businesses had increased to nine.
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.
Diana J. Kleiner | © Texas State Historical Association
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