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Belknap, Texas

Belknap was a half mile east of Fort Belknap and three miles south of Newcastle in Young County in the A. White Survey A-1270. The nearby fort was named for General William G. Belknap, who selected the site and established Camp Belknap in 1851. During 18501 a small settlement grew up near the fort and was named for the fort. In the spring of 1856, Young County was organized, and Belknap became the first county seat, although the town was little more than a trading post and a post office in that time period, the latter established on August 14, 1856.

With the army providing frontier security, Belknap rapidly grew by 1859 to comprise five general stores, two blacksmith shops, a hotel, Charley Neuhaus' billiard parlor, a school that met at the fort, and 150 people. The community became a stop on the famous Butterfield Overland Stage route to California.

In Belknap on September 14, 1859, the Federal Indian agent Major Robert Simpson Neighbors was murdered by Edward Cornett due to Neighbors' Indian policies. He is buried in the Belknap cemetery

Fort Belknap was decommissioned in 1859 after the Indians were removed from the two reservations. The coming of the Civil War and removal of United States troops from the fort brought Belknap's prosperity to an end.

Although Confederate soldiers with the Frontier Regiment occasionally camped in the area, the few families that stayed mainly lived in the fort for protection against Indians. Little community activity was evident when federal troops returned to Fort Belknap in 1867 for six months, until the fort was finally decommissioned.

By 1874 the settlement had recovered enough to re-establish the post office, which had been discontinued in 1865 when the county fell apart. In 1874, the residents of the county voted to re-organize Young County and an election for held for the county seat. Belknap lost the election to Graham, Texas. In 1892 the town had a hotel, several stores and 125 people. But Belknap consolidated with the new settlement of Newcastle in 1908, when the discovery of coal prompted the Wichita Falls and Southern Railway to build into Young County. The Belknap post office was discontinued and moved to Newcastle on March 3, 1908. In 1915, the land upon which Belknap was located was purchased and the County Commissioners Court de-platted the town.

The cemetery, near the original site, is all that remains of the famous frontier town of Belknap.

submitted by Dorman Holub

Sunday, March 15, 2009

© 2009

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