Abbott, Texas' claim to fame is that it's the hometown of country crooner, Willie Nelson. The town sits right off Interstate 35 just 25 miles shy of Waco in Hill County. Though Willie and his sister Bobbie are the town's most notable residents, Abbott was named after Joseph Abbott, a lawyer, teacher, judge, and U.S. congressman. The town was well on its way to prosperity with the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas railroad arriving in 1881 and a post office just one year later. In the 1890s, cotton was a major crop in the area and the town flourished with two cotton gins and a gristmill. The town also had more than 15 businesses, including a general store, drug store, town doctor, barbershops, two hotels, blacksmith shops, a photography studio, newspaper, and a bank. Quite the feat for a small community in rural Texas!
While the town appeared to be moving full steam ahead (no train pun intended), Abbott was not without tragedy. A series of fires struck in 1897, 1903, and 1904. Resilient as ever, the residents of Abbott came together to rebuild each time.
The future looked promising for the town and in 1920, a paved highway was built. Though the Great Depression was well on its way, the town continued to succeed as it became a major stop on the railroad. In 1890 Abbott had only 156 residents but by 1914, the town was flourishing with well over 700 people. Sadly by 1928 the post office had closed and by WWII, only 264 people were left in town. These days roughly 360 people call Abbott home.
While Abbott is far from where it used to be, the town still holds a lot of pride. Some Texans claim it is against the law in Texas to mention the town without also mentioning that Willie Nelson grew up there. Though Willie hit critical acclaim after his move to Nashville and later Austin, many folks who grew up in Abbott remember Willie carrying his guitar to school and one resident even claims his sister, Bobbie, plays the guitar better than Willie.
I'll let you form your own opinion with this video of Willie and Sister Bobbie performing live at Farm Aid in 1994. If all this talk about Willie Nelson has got you craving more, this wonderfully curated playlist is sure to get your feet moving.
Abbott Cash Grocery & Market
Inside the meat market
Abbott City Hall
Whatever! It's unclear if this was a store or a bar. Downtown Abbott at a glance with the United Methodist Church sitting proudly in the background.