Milam County Historical Commission
Milam County, Texas
Milam County Historical Commission - Milam County, TX
Statue of Ben Milam at Milam County, TX Courthouse
Old Junior High School Building, Rockdale, TX
Milam County Courthouse - Cameron, TX
Preserve America
We're Banking on You
A History of Rockdale
Presented by
Rockdale State Bank
May 20, 1979
A History of Rockdale

Presented by
Rockdale State Bank
May 20, 1979

We wish to acknowledge the invaluable
assistance of Mrs. Louise Sessions for much
of the research for this book as well as
that of Mr. William H. Cooke , who gave us
access to the file copies of the Rockdale
Reporter.  But most of all, we want to
acknowledge the tireless efforts of all th
emen and women of Rockdale whose
contributions hae built a city whose story
is well worth telling.
Little more than a century has passed since the opening
of the railroad lines through Milam County, and with
them the settlement of the town that grew to be
Rockdale.  Situated atop rich, extensive lignite
deposits, Rockdale from the very beginning seemed to be
a town destined for good things.  But while good
fortune, a prime location and abundant natural resources
have all played an important part in Rockdale's
development, one "natural resource" has played the most
important part of all - the men and women who make up
Rockdale's population.  For it seems Rockdale has been
blessed with more than its share of public-spirited

And so the purpose of this book.  We at Rockdale State
Bank have been fortunate to have had so many of these
individuals associated with the progress and development
of the bank.  In the excitement of moving into our new
building, we wanted to stop and reflect for a moment on
the events that have brought us this far, as a bank and
as a town.  The association between Rockdale the
Rockdale State Bank has been so close that one almost
cannot tell the history of the town without telling the
history of the bank, and vice versa.

We've been there almost every step of the way, noting
with pride the progress that has been made in such a
short time.

          A History of Rockdale
       Boomtown!  The First Fifty Years

When the International Railroad selected a sitie in
the southwestern portion o Milam County as its
railhead in the early 1870's, the town of Rockdale
had its beginnings.  Adventurous people, living out
of tents, quickly made their way to the spot that
many predicted would become the great shipping point
for Texas stock.  These tents gave way to wooden
buildings and finally to more permanent brick
structures as the town came to be settled.

As more and more settles arrived, new businesses
began to spring up.  Benjamin Loewenstein (Director,
Rockdale State Bank 1907-1923) and his brother
Joseph opened a dry goods store, B. Loewenstein and
Bros., on Christmas Eve of 1873.  Their entire
inventory, valued at less than $300, had been
brought in by ox team.  Benjamin Loewenstein later
established Rockdale Brick Works and erected seven
building the business district.

Also in the same year, E. M Scarbrough, representing
H. P. Hale and Company, took the first steps in
establishing a business with the purchase of a
downtown lot.  H. P. Hale and Company opened for
business, with Scarbrough as a silent partner.  This
partnership continued until Mr.Hales's death in
1882; at that time Scarbrough went into business
with Hale's former bookkeeper, R. H. Hicks.  The
firm of Scarbrough and Hicks soon became one of the
most prominent and prosperous businesses in the
area.  In 1889, Scarbrough moved to Austin, where he
later established a Scarbrough and Hicks branch
house.  This branch house was the forerunner of
today's highly successful Scarbrough's chain in

The county's rich coal deposits also contributed to
Rockdale's booming economy.  The lignite deposits
had attracted attention to Milam County even before
the railroad lines were built.  An once the area was
connected to other parts of the  state by rail, the
coal mining industry steadily increased over the
next forty years.  Even though the county in 1910
boasted eleven mines, peak production was not
reached until 1931 with has as many mines in

Opposite page above, Hotel Wolf was a celebrated
establishment during Rockdale's early days because
of its excellent estaurant.  Opposite page below,
cotton, as well as the mining industry, played an
important part in Rockdale's history.

Below: This 1902 series bank note ordered the First
National Bank of Rockale to "pay to the bearer on
demand twenty dollars".

Below: Shown are Rockdale State Bank's cashier and
assistant cashier Ted Ryan and John T. Hale.

On right, Top is the depot of the
International and Great Northern Railroad. 
Below, one of the daily lignite-loaded trains
leaves Rockdale.

With the boom in business came several banks.  The
Rockdale Bank was first, having opened in January of
1874, although it failed two years later.  It was
reopened and later acquired by Judge James S. Perry,
who maintained its operation until 1892.  The First
National Bank of Rockdale was organized in 1889,
Rockdale State Bank in 1907 and Citizens State Bank
in 1912.  Rockdale remained a three-bank town until
the early 1930's when the other two banks were
consolidated with Rockdale State Bank to protect
their customers from loss during the Depression.