Roadside Relic and History Lesson, San Gabriel, Texas

While driving through the little community of SanGabriel, on the way home from a photo shoot, I came across an old abandoned store – Stigall Grocery and Hardware. Faded signs and weathered buildings are a photographic attraction to me.  The old gas pumps and grass covered lot seem to indicate it’s been closed for a few years. I tried to picture in my mind what this place looked like years ago when it was a thriving business.

According to the Handbook of Texas Online,  several Spanish missions were established in the area, starting in the 1730s.  The missions were abandoned after a few years later.  Little remains of their existence. The community of San Gabriel was begun in in the 1840s.  The population reached a high of 350 in 1929.  The community once had a post office, gin and two schools.  It was interesting to stop and consider what once was here.


An old abandoned store in San Gabriel, Texas


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  1. Crystal Valentine February 11, 2013 — 2:37 pm

    Between 92-93, I lived about 2 miles down the country road where this store sits, on a farm fronting the San Gabriel River. Stigall’s Store was open for business at that point- my Dad stopped in several times a week to get us real, old fashioned cokes in glass bottles from his old-timey machine and to visit with the owner. Mr. Stigall was in his 80’s then and was one of the happiest old men I’ve ever met.

    Our bus driver (for Thorndale ISD) would often include a stop at Stigall’s Store on the afternoon route home so any kids with loose change could run inside and get a snack. (She had no “signed consent forms” from parents and she drove the school bus with curlers in her hair! Her casual, small town approach starkly contrasts with the strict adherance to policy that I observed after moving back to Austin!)

    Even as a sixth grader, this store was fascinating to me. The inside was a time capsule of 60’s/70’s era miscellany. There were shelves lined with all kinds of eccentric “odds and ends” covered in a thick layer of dust. I used to love browsing a wire rack of kitschy greeting cards dating back to the 70’s.

    I’ve made a couple of road trips out to this area over the past 20 years, one of them just yesterday, to see our old farm and look at this store. You may have noticed the old abandoned school house across the street, which is now in ruins. Sadly, it seems to have become a junk yard, but I remember having an ache in my heart as a twelve year old girl to go exploring the inside of that old building to see what kind of historic relics it held. Thanks for sharing this picture!

  2. Billy D. Stigall March 5, 2021 — 11:33 pm

    This was our family store. I worked for my Grandad every summer as a kid in that store. What incredible stories and tall tales I used to hear the old timers tell on that front porch! I really miss it……Billy D. Stigall

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