Prairie Lea is a community located in southwestern Caldwell County. It is the Caldwell County’s oldest community. The area was named by Sam Houston for Margaret Lea Houston who was his wife. Most of the earlier settlers were slaveholding families. During the Civil War Prairie Lea men served with Hood's Texas Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia and with the botched Sibley Campaign to New Mexico. Reconstruction brought a lot of violence that many residents chose to move to Mexico. By 1870s peace had returned but in 1877 a fire destroyed the town’s businesses. Development of the nearby Luling oilfield in the 1920s increased Prairie Lea's population.
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