Have you ever been traveling and, even though you wanted to keep going, you just had to stop for a rest? Perhaps spend the night in a town on the way to your destination? Even before cars, planes, and buses were readily available, travelers experienced this as well. Some argue this was the origin story of the town Vox Populi, formerly located at the intersection of County Road 16 and Highway 71, in Colorado County, Texas.
Now a ghost town with no known residents, Vox Populi was an African American community of freed slaves after the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Juneteenth announcement. Established in the 1870s, this site is considered to be a kind of “convenience” stop for the former slaves of local plantations. A place to rest and make connections before making the difficult journey to larger towns. Houston, for example, was almost 100 miles away, but by 1870 already boasted a population of 9,332, and 17,375 in the county.
Photo: @AndiSupafly via Twenty20
In 1880, a post office was established with the Latin name Vox Populi, meaning “voice of the people.” Over time, the town came to have a school, a community hall, a steam corn mill, a cotton gin, a cemetery, and two churches. Recorded population numbers were 30 residents in 1884, 200 in 1890, and peaked in 1896 with 400 members. Three teachers were employed here for over 120 students. During the 1930s, however, the population declined and the post office closed. Less than ten years later, the town of Vox Populi was no longer listed on Texas maps.
Roughly seven miles away is the small town of Nada. The name is an Americanized version of the Czech word “naděje,” meaning “hope.” The first Nada settlers arrived in 1881, and the town grew with Czech and German immigrants. There is some debate among Texas historians whether Nada is the relocated home of Vox Populi. Do you think the community of Vox Populi merged with Nada, or do you think with the rise of automobiles many left for larger metropolises?