• December 19, 2014

Historic post office, stage stop gives Cove its name

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Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012 4:30 am

Olgetree Gap Park is mostly fields surrounded by hills, but two structures rest in a bowl on the grassy acreage that hosts several city events.

The first is a pavilion for events and general gatherings, but the latter, the elder of the two, has been credited with helping name the city.

Built in 1878, the historic structure in the park has served as a post office, a stagecoach stop, a ranching headquarters and even a home, said Linda Ledger, a Coryell County Historical Commission member.

“It is a little stone building built by a man named Marsden Olgesby,” Ledger said. “The stagecoaches would stop there. I was told that it was on a route to Fort Gates. For the longest time, it was called the stagecoach stop.”

Constructed originally as such, area land owners petitioned the state to name it a post office called Cove because of how the hills surround the fields. But the name Cove was already given to a post office in what is now Evant, Ledger said.

A year later, they repetitioned to name it Copperas Cove, which was originally spelled as Coperas, Ledger said. Copperas was added because someone thought water in the area tasted like Copper.

In the late 19th century, the stage stop or post office was no doubt a hub for the ranchers who lived in the area, Ledger said.

Reason to stop

As the stage stop, the building was probably among a very few reasons someone would stop in Copperas Cove during the time period.

“Every stagecoach route in Texas stretched along a series of stopping points where drivers could hitch on a fresh team in 10 minutes and be on their way again,” stated an article on the Texas Almanac website that was recommended by the Texas Historical Commission.

Facilities such as the Copperas Cove historic site also provided general mercantile items, food and sometimes lodging for travelers and local residents, said Debbie Head, a spokeswoman with the Texas Historical Commission.

“Three times a day, passengers could get a hurried meal. Long-haul stages tended to run 24 hours a day, but some stage stops featured overnight accommodations,” stated the website. “Stagecoach stop fare ranged from terrible — wormy biscuits and grease-laden meat of unknown source — to something weary travelers looked forward to. Meal prices ran from 40 cents to a dollar in the late 1850s.”

The stagecoach stop continued to operate until about 1882, when the railroad was constructed through the area, Ledger said. The post office was moved closer to the rail station. A downtown area was constructed later.

A man named Jesse Clements then bought the stage stop and the land from Olgesby. Clements is considered to be Cove’s founder and used the building as a ranching office. Years later, it was given to the Walker family, and Barnice (Walker) Ray donated the land to the city.

“It is probably the oldest known standing building (in the city),” Ledger said. “The downtown buildings didn’t come until after 1882, so it is the oldest building in Copperas Cove.”

The building was renovated by the Historical Commission for its 100th birthday. The group also helped the site get a historical marker.

“We thought it was just an acknowledgement of Copperas Cove’s beginning,” Ledger said. “Communities get their names from many different ways, and the first time you see the Copperas Cove name is the post office.

“We think that it is important, the history of having that little stage stop. We don’t have a lot of historic buildings, but we do have that stage stop and it is great.”

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