"Ghost Towns Of
Robertson County" is a collection of interesting facts concerning the
earliest settlements in Robertson County. Although all traces
of these early towns no longer exist, their memory is honored and
preserved with Texas Historical Markers. This booklet is
published as a special edition for the 1975 Robertson County Springtime
Pilgrimage and in celebration of the bicentennial year.
45 20.7 N / -96 27 03.9 W
mile east of Hwy 6 at Benchley on Old San Antonio Road; beside El
Camino Real marker)
historic marker reads: "Earliest large community in
Robertson's colony. Settled by Irishmen who came to America in 1821;
lived in South Carolina and then in Alabama; and in 1829 sent west an
emissary, Robert Henry, to find a permanent location. In 1833, their
ox-wagon train arrived, and log cabins were built. By 1836, kinsmen had
joined early arrivals to strengthen settlement. Community name, meaning
"Strivers' Point" in dialect, was probably given for rugged zeal of
settlers in face of hardships. James Dunn built a fort, to give
neighborhood a refuge during Indian raids. In War for Independence,
1835-36, Staggers Point men fought in major actions, including the
April 21, 1836, Battle of San Jacinto, which freed Texas from Mexico.
In 1830s and 40s, the Irish were compelled to keep up their defenses
against the Indians. Women as well as men earned respect for skill with
"long guns." In time their village had a church, stores, cotton gin,
race track, and taverns, and was invaded by gamblers and ruffians drawn
to the races. Until the settlers subdued the lawless, duels and gunplay
were common. This remained a progressive community until 1868, when
Houston & Texas Central Railway bypassed it, and business
waned. Descendants still honor the settlers. Original settlers: William
Henry, Mary F. Henry Dixon, James M. Dixon, Ann McMillan, Henry
& Sarah Fullerton, Robert & Elizabeth Henry, George H.
Fullerton, John R. & Sarah Peyton, Jimnive Henry Rice, William
Fullerton, Hugh & Elizabeth Henry, James A. Henry, Bradford
& Mary Henry Seale, Columbus & Elizabeth Henry Seale,
James & Isabella Dunn" (#10948/1973)
Between 1829 and
number of Irish immigrants settled in the wooded section west of the
present site of Benchley. The woods were plentiful with bear,
deer, wild turkey, and other wildlife. The settlement became
known as Staggers Point.
settlement, the men of the colony planted corn, peas, and
potatoes. They built rail fences for their cattle and scouted
for Indians. The women were trained to take care of
themselves and most of them were experts with flint-rock rifles.
1836, the colony was abandoned during the runaway scrape. The
families were attacked by Indians and several of their people were
killed. Most of the women reached Nacogdoches and safety
after a terrible journey.
the strong women at Staggers Point was Mary Fullerton Henry.
She went to Dunn's Fort for protection rather than flee to
Louisiana. The area in which Mrs. Henry and other Irish
immigrants settled was a part of William Henry's land that was divided
among his children.
The land feel to
Henry Peyton, the daughter of Mary and William Henry, who later sold it
to George Dixon. The first two merchants were Harve Mitchell
and a man named Wallace. They sold dry goods, groceries,
whiskey, and wines. There was a race track and gun club at
Staggers Point in the 1840s. Fine horses ran on the track;
gambling and drinking attracted pioneers of the rougher element.
first cotton gin at Staggers Point was built by Robert Henry in
1850. Henry was born in Londonderry, Ireland in
1801. He was married to Elizabeth Downing in 1820, before
leaving for America. With his wife and three brothers, he
came to Texas in 1829 and received his headright of land in
1834. Robert Henry served under Captain James Gillespie at
the Battle of San Jacinto. In 1838, he was elected Probate
Judge of Robertson County. He remained active in politics
until 1863. Henry died in 1864, and his wife lived until
1881. They are buried in the family cemetery four miles east
Henrys of Staggers Point were slave owners. The brothers
William, James, and Hugh were hard working and directed their slaves in
the building of homes and farms. Old rail fences built by
them are still standing.
first church at Staggers Point was a log structure near the Haygood
place. It was called the "Old Irish Church" because its
minister and most of its members were from Ireland. The
Presbyterian Church attracted families from Dunn's Fort and
Wheelock. These residents were regular in attendance.
pastor of the church was Reverend Fullenwider, who "preached the Gospel
only on Sundays and used the other six days of the week to fight
Indians, work in the fields, nurse the sick, marry the living, and bury
the dead." There is a story that a ruffian once promised to
attend church if the minister could "whip him." Story goes
that Parson Fullenwider "gave him the licking of his life and then
saved his soul."
in the woodlands for almost forty years before the outside world
reached it by improved road or rail. It was famous for its
church and its country school. The Point was the first
complete settlement in Robertson County.
the first white child born at Staggers Point was William "Bud"
Henry. According to Mrs. Jimmie Rice, he was "born when the
stars fell," in October 1835.
names of some of the early settlers in the old Irish area
were: Robert Henry, Henry Fullerton Sr. and wife Sarah,
William Fullerton and wife Margaret Henry Fullerton, Hugh Henry and
wife Elizabeth McMillan Henry, Ann McMillan, George McMillan, the
Wright Coley family, the families of Wilson Reed, Hiram "Squire"
Hanover, the Peytons, Hearnes, Nashs, and Seales.
events of early days in Robertson County were few. Among said
experiences of men from the southwest corner of the county was the
battle known to people of Staggers Point as the Battle of Horn
Hill. It was referred to elsewhere as Bryant's
This battle occurred at Morgan's Point, near the present day site of
Marlin in Falls Co., TX.)
battle occurred in 1839. On January 10, seventy Indians
attacked John Morgan's home near BuckSnort. The Indians were
repulsed with seven of their number slain. On New Year's day,
the savages plundered George Morgan's home and killed members of the
When word of the
massacre reached the southwestern part of the county, the people
decided they must pursue the Indians and defeat them or retreat to
safety in Austin's Colony. They chose to fight.
Under Benjamin Bryant, forty-eight men rode to meet the savages.
little army of Robertson County men found the Indians, led by Chief
Jose Maria, on January 16. The Texans charged them.
The withering fire from the Indians drove them backward and the men
were ordered to form a line on the open prairie. The order
was misunderstood and taken as one of full retreat. As the
Texans, withdrew from the field, the Indians charged from the wood,
firing their guns, and screaming battle cries. The Texans
became disorganized and scattered throughout the area. Still,
the savages advanced. Bryant's men were reduced to panic and
were forced to run for their lives.
Three Texans died
first charge (Plummer, Ward, and Armstrong Barton). A. J.
Powers was killed shortly thereafter. Wilson Reed feel from
his horse and was instantly clubbed to death. Hugh Henry and
William Fullerton stood back-to-back, fighting with guns and knives
until they were shot and killed. Washington McGrew, Alfred
Eaton, and A. J. Webb amid twice their number. John Henry,
Captain Bryant, Enoch Jones, Charles Solls, Lewis Powers, and William
Powers were wounded. When darkness came, the remaining Texans
escaped to safety.
the fierce battle was over, Francis Slauter, the Chief Justice of
Robertson County, sent men from Old Franklin to gather the
dead. They were buried in the little cemetery at Old Franklin
on a cold winter day. The ten men who died were from Staggers
Point, Old Franklin, and Wheelock.
the railroad reached Robertson County in 1868, residents of Staggers
Point moved to near the railroad station. When the settlement
grew into a village, the people gave it the name of Benchley to honor
their favorite freight conductor.