Minerva is an agricultural community on the Jose Leal survey south of Cameron. It’s located in central Milam County, six miles north of Rockdale. Also, it is a rural community which contained churches, a school and a village. It was named for Mrs. Adeline Minerva Sanders who gave land for the town site, for the railroad, and for the Methodist Church.
Midway was the small village from which Minerva originated. Midway was about a mile or more from where Minerva was later built. It was a small village on the public “sandy” road. It was midway between the two larger towns of Rockdale and Cameron; therefore, it was named Midway. This small village consisted of a few homes with residents, a Church of Christ, a school, but no stores. The people had to go to Rockdale or Cameron to purchase their supplies.
About 1891, the San Antonio and Aransas Pass [S.A.&A.P.] Railway company from San Antonio, Texas, was building their railroad from Waco to Yoakum. Mrs. Minerva Sanders sold this company the right-of-way through her property to induce the bringing of the railroad through this area. When they wanted to survey a town site there, she gave them about thirty acres of land for this purpose, requesting they keep a depot and an agent there for fifty years. In appreciation for her gift, they named the town Minerva in her honor. The last time their train went through this station was August 13, 1949.
Mrs. Minerva Sanders gave the land for the Methodist church, also, The first pastor of this church was Reverend S. P. Brown and the first Sunday School superintendent was Mr. W. O. Cone. The first wedding in this church was that of Mr. John C. Wallace and Miss Willie B. Cone.
During the eighty active years of the Methodist Church, it was the center of the religious and social activities until it was closed on March 2, 1969. This is evidenced by former residents who returned to visit the Annual Homecoming each year since it was started on October 7, 1961.
Minerva was a larger village than Midway, but it was still small. The town then consisted of a drug store, a few grocery stores, a post office, Methodist Church, Church of Christ, and the Baptist Church.
The first public school was built in 1884. It consisted of two rooms and was named Midway School because it was about half way between Rockdale and Cameron on the highway. It was Milam County School District #33. In 1913, the trustees, Mr. J. W. Wallace, Mr. W. A. Robinson and Mrs. J. W. Gore, gave the school building and lot for one and one-half acres of land adjacent to Minerva town lots which were east of the Methodist Church. A three-room building was erected just outside the city limits. The name was changed to Minerva School. This was in 1913-1914. The Milam County School Board annexed one-half of the Minerva School, south of Cooper Hollow to the Rockdale School on July 6, 1949. The school building was donated to the Minerva community as a social center. It was named The Minerva Community Center.
One day oil was struck near Cattail Creek in Minerva. This discovery was made by Sam Whonstein about 1920. He worked with an oil drill and oil tools which sometimes broke and then would have to be fixed together again. Then one day he found oil. It was the year of 1921.
This oil was first leased and bought by individuals, but later companies came and bought the oil. Minerva increased greatly in population. Not only did it grow in population but soon consisted of many houses, stores, markets, and a post office. The oil refinery, in the oil fields, was supervised by Mr. W. A. Jones who was from the State of Oklahoma. This oil field is closed now.
The first postmaster was Dr. Harber who was also a doctor. Mrs. Mason (Bernice) Longmire was the last post mistress. The post office was closed October 13, 1972.
Today Minerva has gone back to a very small village. Students are attending Rockdale Schools by bus.
SOURCE: Marshall, Ida Jo (ed.), Rockdale Centennial: A History of Rockdale, Texas, 1874-1974. Rockdale, TX: Rockdale Reporter, 1974. (p. 102-103)
Some historians and family members say “Amanda Minerva Sanders.” Minerva’s surname was Duke.
SOME ADDITIONAL NOTES FROM THE LEGACY EDITOR, MARIE HUBERT: Mrs. Marshall prepared this history for the book, Rockdale Centennial, A History of Rockdale, Texas, 1874-1974. As an addition to Mrs. Marshall’s history, it could be added that Minerva was born in 1818 in Alabama and was a widow of Mr. Jacob Cone. She married Sherrod William Sanders, also a widower, in Alabama in 1852 and they came to Texas in 1855 with her three sons, William O. Cone, Henry Jacob Cone and Thomas Jefferson Cone and Sherrod’s two children, Mark Sanders and Nola Sanders. Minerva purchased 2,000 acres in May 18578 in the Jose Leal Survey and the family moved there at that time. It is believed by some that he also had large land holdings adjoining hers. Four children were born to this union: Sherrod Franklin Sanders, Betty Sanders, May Minerva Sanders and Terrel Sanders.
From these roots, many family members are still in the Minerva community and area. You will find the surnames of Cone, Gore, Hubert and Moody who are all the direct descendants of Minerva Sanders. Charles Hubert, our program chairman and member of the MCGS is a great-grandson of Minerva.
SOURCE: The Legacy, Milam County Genealogical Society, May-June 1997.
Minerva is located on U.S. Highway 77, about 6-miles south of Cameron in central Milam County.
It was named for Minerva Adeline Sanders, who donated land for a railroad station when the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway built through the area in 1891.
A post office opened in 1892. A shallow oilfield was discovered near Minerva in 1921, prompting a small boom; oil production peaked in 1927, with a gross yield of 455,985 barrels for the year. Though the oilfield continued to support a small refining operation, Minerva remained a largely agricultural community.
The town lost its rail service in 1959, when the Texas and New Orleans abandoned the section of track between Cameron and Giddings. The Minerva post office was discontinued in the mid-1960s. Two churches and three businesses marked the community on county highway maps in the 1980s, when the population was reported as 60. It was still reported as 60 in 1990.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Lelia M. Batte, History of Milam County, Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1956); Milam County Heritage Preservation Soc., Matchless Milam: History of Milam County (Dallas: Taylor, 1984); Margaret Eleanor Lengert, "The History of Milam County" (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1949); Handbook of Texas On-Line
Created on 15 Feb 2001 and last revised on 15 Nov 2003.