Robertson County TX

 
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TXGenWeb Robertson County Books & Master's Theses

G H O S T   T O W N S   O F   R O B E R T S O N   C O U N T Y

See also Ghostly Haunts Collection

"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.

-- Mrs. Katherine Galloway

Staggers Point

30 45 20.7 N / -96 27 03.9 W
(1 mile east of Hwy 6 at Benchley on Old San Antonio Road; beside El Camino Real marker)
TopoZone Map

Texas 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 1834, a 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.

Immediately after 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.

In 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.

Among 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 Sarah 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.

The 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 of Benchley.

The 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.

The 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.

The 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."

Old Staggers Point lay 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.

Probably 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.

The 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.

Happy 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 defeat.  (Note:  This battle occurred at Morgan's Point, near the present day site of Marlin in Falls Co., TX.)

This 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 family.

When word of the Morgan 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.

The 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 in the 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.

When 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.

When 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. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Page Modified: 17 August 2014

   

 


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