by Linda Duke
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
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.
His 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
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
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
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 th Assemble 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
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.