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Town of Splendora,
Montgomery County Texas

SPLENDORA, TEXAS. Splendora is at the junction of U.S. Highway 59 and Farm Road 2090, on the Southern Pacific Railroad six miles north of New Caney and twenty-two miles from Conroe in eastern Montgomery County. In the late 1800s it was known as Cox's Switch, in honor of Charles Cox, who was instrumental in getting the Houston, East and West Texas Railway to extend a narrow-gauge spur there. The name was changed to Splendora in 1896, when Cox asked the first postmaster, M. S. King, to rename the town. He chose Splendora because of the "Splendor of its floral environment." The town grew slowly. By 1925 the population was 100, in 1949 it was 180, and in the early 1970s it peaked at 1,000. In 1895 the Greenleaf Church building was used as a schoolhouse. In 1913 a new two-room school had fifty students. The enrollment was sixty-five in 1925 and 170 in 1932-33. On October 27, 1936, the school was partially burned. The following year a new brick building was completed; in 1981 it was being used for a junior high school. Splendora became an independent school district in the 1940s. Since then it has added a new high school (1959), a new elementary school (1966), and a new junior high school (1978). Splendora was incorporated in December 1966. In 1989 the town had a population of 722, three churches, two cemeteries, and thirty-seven businesses. In 1990 the population was 745.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Montgomery County Genealogical Society, Montgomery County History (Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Hunter, 1981).

Rebecca L. Borjas

 

Excerpts from “A History of Montgomery County, Texas” Chapter V, Cities, Towns, and Communities,
by William Harley Gandy”: For Sources, see Endnotes:
 

Splendora, Texas, in the 1880's was known by the name of Section Four. It acquired this name from the narrow gauge Houston, East and West Texas Railroad. The initials for this railroad were H. E. W. T. and the local citizens interpreted them to mean "Hell Either Way You Take It", and the frequency of stations along its track caused the line to be designated the "Cottontail Limited", because it was claimed that the train stopped behind every stump just like a rabbit. The name, Section Four, was changed to Splendora by C. C. Cox, when he petitioned the post office department for a post office. 102

 

Splendora

In the late 1800's, Splendora was known as Cox's Switch. This came about due to the fact that Charles Cox was instrumental in having the H. E. & W. T. railroad put in a narrow gauge spur from Houston for cross ties and lumber.  It had been put in as far as New Caney in 1879. This spur created many railroad and sawmill related jobs. The more common ones were logging, farming sawmill work, cutting firewood for steam engines and cross tie making.  The price paid for each cross tie made then was three to ten cents.
 

W. W. Burrow, who moved to Cox's Switch in 1883, built the first general store shortly after the railroad track was completed from Houston.  Hs business started with a large box of "staples" in his home.  Word soon spread that if anyone needed a sack of flour or sugar, that they could get it from Mr. Burrow.
 

The train, store and jobs created by the railroad provided the ingredients necessary for further settlement in Cox's Switch.  Among these settlers were the Flowers, Richardsons, Pattons, Sallees, Pridgens, Dukes, Lucases, Stokelys, Grays, Hendlys, Harringtons and Brices.
 

Charles Cox who at the age of 45, came here "planning to die" realized that since he had married Ruth Hall and already had a couple of children, that the children might not want the town called Cox's Switch.  In 1896 he asked the Post Master, to rename the town.  Mr. King decided on the name Splendora for the "Splendor of it's floral environment".
 

The main street of Splendora was the railroad track.  People walked, rode horses and drove wagons and buggies along the tracks.  On Sunday everyone turned out to meet the train at the deport.  The train was their only connection with Houston and their means of communication.  It brought the mail, packages, payroll and often visitors.
 

In 1928 the county bought a right of way through Splendora and later constructed a paved road.  The section house was then located next to the tracks and road went around it.  The county also bought four acres from J. V. Sallee and moved the section house on to it, so the road would be built straight. The first church building was built around 1895 near the present cemetery.  Preaches of various denominations "took turns" preaching until 1903 when the Greenleaf Missionary Baptist Church was organized.
 

The church building was also used as school house until about 1913 when a new school was built on land donated by Charles Cox and located on the site of our present high school.
 

It was 1939 before Gulf States came through Splendora, and some time after that before they got "electric" lights.  In spite of the lack of electricity and running water, Splendora did have a few modern conveniences.   In the thirties the W. P. A. put in some cement toilets.  They looked on the outside like any other outdoor toilet except from the back.  This kind had a cement tank down in the ground and a cement floor.
 

Over the years many businesses have come and gone, but Splendora hasn't changed much business-wise over the years other than that along time ago people bought everything in Splendora and now they buy only what they need immediately.
 

Some of the most remembered  businesses that are gone now were: The Dance Hall built by John Sallee in the early twenties just south of the Section house.  He hired a band to come in from a neighboring town, and there was plenty of barbeque for everyone and who knows what they had to drink, since this was during the years of prohibition.  He rented it out in the thirties and it was turned into a radio shop. Wilburn Lee Burrow built a theatre in Splendora during the early forties.  He showed movies, and sometimes had live entertainment on the stage.  It is said that he took his own movies of people in town going about their regular business and he would show these sometimes.  Pud and Betty Daw turned it into a cafe during the early fifties, and it was used a a cafe for many years.
 

Some of the early settlers in this area were the W. W. Burrow family, coming here in 1883.  He started the first business in his home, and later built the first store.  The family bought the two-story frame home known as "the old Burrow house", in 1905.  It had been built by a man who was working on the railroad and planned to move to Splendora but later changed his plans.  After the family moved to the new home, W. W. sold his old home and property to William Sallee.  He is reported to have stipulated in the deed that no business could be built on this property which was next to his store.  At this writing there is still no business on this prime commercial site.
 

James T. Flowers became the second Justice of the Peace in Splendora.  He and his family moved to Splendora in 1895.  They built a home on what is now known as "the old Uncle Jerry Duke place."  After living there about seven years, they bought property from William Patton for $2.00 an acre.  The First Baptist Church is now located on part of this property as is Sallee Flowers Giles' home.  Their new home built in 1902 was constructed from trees cut off the Duke place and make into lumber at the mill.  The "downtown" area was almost prairie.
 

William Patton moved here in 1895 from Willis, TX.  He must have been the first real estate investor because hen someone else wanted to sell their property, he would buy it and later resell it.  His son, H. L. Patton, has continued to develop and invest in real estate.  He is the well know developer of Patton Village which has a population of over 1200 according to the 1980 census.
 

Hardy and Alma Lucas were charter members of the Greenleaf Baptist in 1903 and later started the Assembly of God Church.
 

The W. J. Richardson arrived in Splendora in a covered wagon from Louisiana in 1898, an where charter members of the 1903 church.  He served as Justice of Peace for many years and his wife, Julia, was the first mid-wife in this area.  Mary Elizabeth Duke served as mid-wife also mainly in the area around where she lived (about 5 miles west of town).  Mary Sallee followed "Aunt Julia" as a mid-wife.  In 1936 "Grandma Sallee" charged $5.00 to deliver a baby and the doctor at the time charged $25.00.  Of course, she or the doctor either one would take an equal amount of food in payment.
 

Charles Cox came from Minnesota.  He had the Post Office in one room of his home.  The large house was near the depot and a common gathering place for the townspeople.  They came to get the mail, catch up on the news and see if there were any boarders from off the train each day.  The Cox family was a large one and dinner table was always filled with extra guests.  There was always something to entertain the young folks.
 

I am Charles P. Cox and live in Iowa.  My Grandfather was Charles Claiborne Cox and my  father was Charles R. Cox.  For information please contact me at:  n0hdc@mchsi.com

 

Lost Prairie School

by Deborah Stuart


This one room school was built in the late 1890's and was used for both school and church. It was located about 5 miles west of Splendora off of FM 2090. Some of the children that attended were the Collins, Bradfords, Haydens, Houghs, Mizells, Partain, Vick Martin and Cater.  Some of the teachers that taught there were Albert Sallee, Proessor Clarke, Bertha Clarke Gilmore, Katie Clarke, Dixon Bazzoon, Claudia Reeves, ad Alvie Partain.  In the later 1920's Lost Prairie school was consolidated with Splendora School. 


Photos Courtesy of Deborah Stuart

 


Splendora School 1925
 


Splendora School 1930
 


Splendora School - Date Unknown

 

Splendora:

From a Traveler's Guide to Historic Montgomery County
1836-1986, Texas Sesquicentennial Edition:

 

Splendora was settled in the early 1880s by farmers and ranchers who migrated from Georgia and Alabama. The town was originally known as Cox's Switch, named after the man who was instrumental in bringing the railroad through the community. The town later earned its present name for the "splendor" of it's floral environment.

 

 

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Page Modified: 07 April 2014