Williamson County
Texas History


Jonah, Texas History
est. 1857

Population: 60 (1990)


Methodist Church and Percy’s Store (L to R), 1920s. The store burned down later. The community is known for the Jonah Water Special Utility District, established in 1972, which serves a large rural area.


Courtesy of Harlan Hays




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To inquire about the use or purchase of any of these photographs please contact the museum at 512-943-1670.

click on thumbnail images for an enlarged view

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This is the original bridge over the San Gabriel river at Jonah, before it was washed away in the 1921 flood.

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Richard E. Talbot, born in Cambridge, NY, 17 June 1816, of Irish immigrant parents. He came to Texas with his wife and children in 1850s to join brothers Elias and Joseph Talbot. Richard and Joseph Talbot are buried in the IOOF cemetery in Georgetown. Elias Talbot and family buried in the San Gabriel Cemetery. Richard Talbot settled near Jonah before it was named Jonah. See page 292 of "Williamson County, Its History"

image 1207
Gustaf E. Johnson Family, Swedish Immigrants to WC in 1902, photo ca.
1917, l-r: Sigurd Johnson, Gustaf Johnson, Elvia Johnson, Irma Johnson, Hilma Johnson, Sven Johnson, Hildur Johnson. The family had a farm near
Jonah, Texas

image 2014
Carl Lidell & Son w/ Large Rattlesnake

image 2015
Carl Lidell in Flight Training in 1945, Carl was from Jonah, Texas

image 2016
C.G. Wegstrom Family member on horse ca. 1920s

image 2017
James Hood, from Jonah, Texas, during the retaking of the Philippine
Islands in WWII, ca. 1944

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Hot Rod T Model, Bill Bloom & Herbert Swenson, ca. 1920s

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Group of Confederate Veterans, Jonah, Texas, ca. 1898

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Sigurd E. Johnson plowing with John Deere tractor, NE of Jonah, Texas ca. 1940.

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Rod and Sigurd Johnson, far right, with tractor and [cane] hay binder with
cousins, near Jonah, Texas, ca.1951

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Rod and Sigurd Johnson, far right, with tractor and [cane] hay binder with cousins, near Jonah, Texas, ca.1951

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Hutto Swedish Lutheran Church Sunday School Imagenic on San Gabriel River,
just east of Jonah, Texas, on Gattis Gravel Bar, ca. 1944. Larry Rydell [second from left] and Rodney Johnson [third from left]

image 8021
Swedish Immigrants and Kids on Cotton Bale, Jonah, Texas, ca.1920s

image 9055
Jonah Town Building, Jonah, Texas, ca. 1910s


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Anna Louise Trowbridge Talbot, wife of R.E. Talbot. She came to the area in 1853 and lived between Circleville and Jonah. Came to the area in 1853. Her husband was the brother of Joseph Talbot of Taylor, Texas and brother of Elias Talbot, merchant in Georgetown, Texas. Who was a friend of Sam Houston, ca.1854

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Original Jonah School & Play Yard, ca.1915

image 9056
Jonah Gin, Jonah, Texas, ca. 1920s


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Service Station and Garage, built by Homer Hood, ca. 1925, Jonah, Texas

image 9048
Builders of dam for mill near Jonah, Texas, ca 1895, for water wheel to power grinding wheat for flour mill.

image 9048
Water dam to power flour mill on hill, burned ca. 1902 or 1903, San Gabriel River,
Jonah, Texas

image 9050
Cotton Wagon on Jonah Bridge over San Gabriel River, bridge washed away in 1921 flood, Jonah, Texas.

image 9051
Percy's Store & Methodist Church, Jonah, Texas ca. 1910s


image 9052
Jonah Town Building, Jonah, Texas, ca. 1910s

image 9053
Jonah Man with dogs on Main Street, Jonah, Texas. ca. 1910s


image 9054
Jonah Main St. and Model T Cars, Jonah, Texas, ca. 1910s

  Community of Jonah
Historical Marker

  250 Old Hwy 29 E

Google location map

GPS points
30.639306, -97.543694

  Marker Text:
On 1820s land grant to Nashville Colony, settled 1851 by wagon train from Arkansas, and called Water Valley. In 1884, repeated ill-luck in selecting an acceptable name for post office led to renaming the town Jonah. This was site of famed grist mill, 1865 – 1912. (1970)


  Jonah History
Historical Narrative by Mrs. W. H. Percy

Places, people and events make History. Old abstracts afford much interesting reading about people, and the early days in Texas.

Texas and Coahuila were still under Mexican rule in 1829. Colonies were being established, even encouraged.

Moses Austin and Stephen F. Austin and others founded colonies.

About 1824 James Warnock was granted a large tract of land. Quote: ''Whereas James Warnock has been received as a colonist in the enterprise of colonization. This grant was a part of the Nashville Colony.

In 1851 James Madison Burris bought for $500 a large part of the Nashville Grant. This land lies south of the San Gabriel River at Jonah and extends south and west.

Early colonists tried to choose locations near a stream of water, and the village was originally called ..Water Valley'', a good name and a good location. The land was open prairie with timber along the streams.

Early important settlers - James Madison and Nancy Burris had six children: William, James H., Mary, Ellie, Bettie and Clarissa. Each child was given a section of land. James M. Burris is buried in the old family cemetery, just across the river, from Jonah. On his grave is the following inscription:

James Madison Burris, Born November 25, 1815. Died July 1, 1900.
'took here, friends as you pass by
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, so you must be,
Prepare for death and follow me, "

There are many descendants of James and Nancy Burris. His great granddaughter, Mrs. Fannie Gattis, and great, great grandson, Leon Gattis live in Jonah at this time.

Another large tract of land belonged to J. T. and Penelope Mileham. This land was north of the San Gabriel River and along Mileham Branch. Along the branch are many springs that have furnished water in dry years. The Mileham's had a large family, and as each daughter married, they were given a dowry of horse, mules and cattle. One dowry consisted of thirty picked mares, (colts were thrown in) for $44.00 each, and sixty-one head of cattle for $22.50 each.

Mary Mileham married J. B. Salyer and they lived in Jonah for many years.

Much of the land around Jonah was part of the Mileham tract. When Mr. Mileham died, his wife Penelope was appointed administrates. Appraisers for the estate were Thomas Bruce, Martin Magee and J. R. Roberts.

East of Jonah w. another large tract known as the Whitley land.

The late Mrs. J. L. Starnes and Mrs. Bruce Rowlett were heirs to part of this estate.

As the years passes by a few people lived between the San Gabriel and the Mileham Branch. There were no bridges and transportation was by mule and horse. There was a small, one room school house, and some people say the first court house was in Jonah, near where the gin is now.

By 1884 some of the prairies land was being put in cultivation, and some fences built. People raised at home a large part of their food. Hogs were butchered for meat. Fireplaces provided heat. Most families went to the woods to cut wood for winter use. There was probably more community spirit then, than we have now.

In 1884 Mr. John Walker operated a general merchandise store in Jonah, still called 'Water Valley.. Mrs. Will Thornton was the daughter of John Walker.

The general merchandise store in 1884 was similar to the first Sears, Roebuck Catalogue of 1897, but of course on a very limited scale. On Saturdays the farmers came to buy the week's groceries, and since there was no need to rush, they would linger to discuss various community affairs. The .hoop cheese was on the counter, and the cracker box open, so a bite of lunch was available. Flour, sugar and green coffee came in barrels. People parched the coffee at home. The coffee mill hung on the pantry walls.

On one of these occasions the need for a post office was discussed. So they decided to send the name Water Valley for a name to the Postal Department in Washington. Since there was one other town named Water Valley. it was not accepted. Other names were sent in, and all were rejected for the same reason. Finally someone present exclaimed "It surely is a Jonah" let's call the post office Jonah. So Jonah it has been and still Jonah since 1884.

Thanks to the general Services Administration.

The following persons have served as postmasters at Jonah, Texas
John Walker March 31, 1884
G. W. Grammor January 14, 1886
Sallie Davidson August 21,1886
Abraham Bogart November 26, 1890
William G. McDonald June 3, 18535
John Rowlett February 23, 1909
William H. Percy May 14, 1917
Firie Leon Gattis August 11, 1951

By Mrs. W. H. Percy



click on image for an enlarged view

Historic Jonah
History of "Grist Mill Covered Wagon Caravan"
Jonah History submitted

J.T. Mileham along with the Ake family moved to Takao from Arkansas in 1851. They cane by covered wagon, driving stock, cows, oxen and hogs, and brought their slaves. They landed in Jonah and Georgetown community.

J.T. Mileham married a Speegle girl on the trip. She died at the birth of their first child, also the baby died. J.T. Mileham then married Phenelope Ake.

The Grist Mill was built by J.T. Mlileham on the San Gabriel river, near Water Valley during the Civil War, 1865, and was in operation, grinding wheat and corn.

J.T. Mileham sold the Mill Rights to J.R. Roberts (whose wife was an Ake). Roberts sold to Capt. Bruce (Confederate Army) and Will G. Mc Donald. Capt Bruce then sold his share to Will G. Mc Donald. Will Mc Donald was Capt Bruce's son-in-law.

In later years, J.B. Salyer and Jim Hays owned the Mill when it burned in the summer of 1912.

The tract of land was from the Mileham and Mc Donald place. The original Post Office is still there, the general merchandise store, the Old Blacksmith Shop. The iron bridge still stands, and is usable. The Jonah Citizens are dedicated to their “Historic Jon. community.

The three sponsors are all Jonah descendants, their families were early pioneers, with exception of Mrs. W.H. Percy, who moved there in 1908.



Monadale Cemetery

Easley-Sloan Cemetery

Mankins Family Cemetery

Whiley Lunsford Cemetery

Jonah Cemetery

Cook - Mankins Crossing Cemetery




view  Jonah school house pdf
a special thanks to the the Williamson County Sun and Joyce May for this piece of Williamson County History

Jonah, Texas   by The Handbook of Texas Online


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