The History of Ponder, Texas
Ponder was at the intersection of Farm roads 156 and 2449 and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway tracks, in western Denton County. Settlers had reached the area by the 1850s. One of the first to arrive was Silas Christal, who settled just west of the site of future Ponder, where he built an oxen-powered gristmill. In 1886 the Santa Fe purchased land for a right-of-way through the community. The railroad called the community Gerald, and in 1887 the first passenger train arrived in town. In 1889, when it was discovered that another Texas town was called Gerald, the town was renamed Ponder, in honor of W. A. Ponder, a prosperous landowner and Denton banker.
Ponder received a post office in 1893 with C. N. Skaggs as postmaster in his general store. Shortly afterward O. H. Sheppard opened the second business in the community, a blacksmith shop. H. F. Wakefield, the area’s largest landowner, owned 17,000 acres, including much of the townsite; he donated land for the school in 1897 and built his home on the eastern side of town, along with several rent houses. The first church in the community was a Baptist church founded in 1893, and the second was a Methodist church founded in 1902. In 1903 Ponder was surveyed for the first time, and the community continued to grow. In 1910 two large businesses were completed, the Ponder State Bank and the Ponder Hotel. Two years later the community had its own waterworks. By 1914 it had several general stores, a livery stable, tailors, and a restaurant.
By the 1920s Ponder had a population of eighty-four and sixteen businesses. In the early 1920s a twelve-grade brick school was constructed, and in 1935 it had 186 students and seven teachers. In 1939 the Ponder Rodeo began. It became a community event, with everyone pitching in to help build the arena and local women’s groups selling refreshments. Admission was twenty-five cents. The rodeo remained in Ponder until 1942, when it was moved to Denton because of gas and rubber rationing during World War II.qv In 1946 it moved back to Ponder and soon had a new 3,500-seat arena. When Denton started its own rodeo in 1950, the Ponder rodeo ended.
The population of Ponder in the 1940s was 250. By the mid-1950s, although the population remained static, many businesses were available to serve the area farmers and ranchers, including two grocery stores, a cafe, a cotton gin, a grain elevator, two filling stations, a trucking business, and one of the county’s last remaining blacksmith shops. By the end of the 1960s the community was incorporated. In the 1970s Ponder had a population of 179 and five businesses. Many residents of small towns had been moving to big cities to find jobs, but by the 1980s people were moving from big cities to small towns such as Ponder, and the population was back up to 297. The community still had five businesses. In 1980 a processor of liquefied petroleum gas located in Ponder. By 1990 the population was 432, and another manufacturer was there making van conversions.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Nita Seals, Ponder: The Little Town with the Big Rodeo (Gainesville, Texas, 1985)