Marker Text: Former slaves established the community of Cologne in an effort to provide safety and refuge from the general lawlessness and violence committed -- particularly against African Americans -- during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era. Freedmen Joseph Smith and George Washington had opened a freight and passenger business in Victoria after the Civil War. Their business was a success and they were able to live in relative prosperity in Victoria, along with other African American families.
As Reconstruction ended and Texas Democrats regained control of local and state government, the prosperity and security gained by emancipated slaves was threatened. In 1877, Washington and Smith purchased more than five hundred acres on Perdido Creek between Victoria and Goliad. They sold portions of this land to other African Americans, and still others purchased adjacent property. A cemetery, churches and a one-room school were soon built, and a post office opened in 1898. The community was first known simply as "The Colony" but was later known as Perdido, Centerville and Ira Station. The name "Cologne" may have derived from the wishful thinking of residents who wanted to distract from the scent of the local rendering plant.
Initially, the community's economy was based largely on agriculture, but the arrival of the Gulf, Western Texas and Pacific Railroad in 1889 allowed shipping to become a major commercial activity. Unusual for the time was an integrated depot built in the 1890s. As with many rural communities, two world wars, the Depression and urbanization caused the gradual decline of Cologne. (2008)
Marker No: 16050
Aluminum 27 x 42 Subject Marker
Location: Cologne Cemetery, Lott Road, Fannin