County commissioners vote to abandon ‘paper alleys’ in Minerva

By Curtis Chubb 

The Milam County Commissioners Court was again asked to abandon some platted but never-developed streets and alleys in an unincorporated town at their meeting on Monday.

This time a real estate transaction in Minerva could not be completed because the undeveloped streets and alleys are still listed as being owned by the county. One of the people requesting action by the court referred to the undeveloped roadways as “paper alleys.” 

The commissioners approved the abandonment of the designated streets and alleys at Monday’s meeting.

The Minerva agenda item highlighted one of Minerva’s pioneers: F.W.R. Hubert. Hubert had platted an addition to the Town of Minerva sometime in the 1920s and 1930s – it was named the F.W.R. Hubert Addition to the Town of Minerva. The Addition incorporates the undeveloped roadways discussed on Monday.

During the 1920s, Minerva was experiencing a boom due to the oil fields near the town. Perhaps due to the oil production declining after the boom, the Addition was never fully developed. 

An interesting part of the plat is a railroad which is drawn as running just west of the Addition. It is interesting for two reasons: 1) there are no railroads in the present Minerva; and 2) it allows a glimpse into Milam County’s rich history.

The railroad on the plat is identified simply as S.A. & A.P.R.R. The initials stand for the ‘San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad’ which had a branch running from Waco to Giddings. This branch was completed in 1892 – only 56 years after Milam County was designated as one of the 23 original counties of the new Republic of Texas. The SA&AP also passed through Rosebud and Lott (Lott was named for one of the railroad’s developers, Uriah Lott).

The importance of this railroad to Minerva is highlighted by the fact that the town is named for Minerva Adeline Sanders. Sanders donated land for the railroad station in 1891. The first Minerva post office was opened in 1892.

In 1934, SA&AP was merged into the Texas and New Orleans Railroad which was already owned by the Southern Pacific Railroad Company.

In 1959, T&NO discontinued its track from Cameron to Giddings which explains why there is no railroad through Minerva at present.

In 1961, T&NO ceased to exist when it was completely merged into the Southern Pacific.

Under another agenda item, the commissioners court approved a tax abatement for Butler Weldments Corporation. 

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Butler Weldments is located in the Cameron Industrial Park north of downtown and employs 70 people which ranks it as Number 7 on the list of major employers for Cameron according to the Cameron Industrial Foundation’s website.

The corporation has an interesting history. First founded in 1947 as The H.F. Butler Corporation in New Jersey, it expanded to three New Jersey locations in 1970 specializing in small and large steel fabrications. Then in 1977, it created a new subsidiary named Butler Weldments Corporation in Cameron which fabricated parts for power plants. In 1992, the company made the decision to close all of the New Jersey locations and consolidate all of its business at Cameron. In 2001, it opened a new subsidiary in Rio Bravo, Mexico.

The Milam County Industrial Development Corporation recommended approval of the tax abatement which will equal $13,759 over a four-year period. Butler Weldments’ request for the property tax abatement is associated with the purchase of a new piece of equipment costing $659,000. Although no new jobs will be created, the recommendation for approval is based on the company’s commitment to remain in Cameron on a long-term basis. 

In other business, the commissioners court approved:

• The deputation of three people for the Milam County Tax Assessor and Collector Office: Christine Adcock, Robin Good, and Vera Rivers;

• The annual renewal of a contract with the Texas Department of State Health Services which allows the Milam County Clerk’s Office to access the DSHS’ on-line computer services and issue Certifications of Vital Records such as birth certificates even for other counties;

• A renewal contract with AT&T for phone circuits including fiber optic cable; and

• The designations of two new private roads: PR 13316 and PR 2280C.