Belcherville, Texas (USA)
Category: Southwestern History
IN HONOR OF TEXAS:
In the 1870's-1880's, Texas was the state of lone rangers like a rancher named Belcher, who created his own ranch through the thunder of the cattle drive. Between Oklahoma and Texas flowed the Red River; south of Dallas swirled the waters of the Brazos River. In this setting, the rancher named Belcher found his destiny.
At various times in his life, the Belcher rancher owned land in Grayson County, Texas; Montague County, Texas; Clay County, Texas; South Texas; West Texas; New Mexico, and the Oklahoma Territory.
Located in North Texas, the counties of Clay, Montague, Cooke, and Grayson in modern times are north from Dallas and Fort Worth and south from Oklahoma. To the east is Arkansas and the city of Texarkana; to the southeast is Louisiana, with the city of Shreveport and its neighbor, the town of Belcher, Louisiana. North Texas contains towns with names such as Sadler, Henrietta, Princeton, and Belcherville.
The Coming of the Iron Horse and the Naming of Belcherville
But it was the coming of the "Iron Horse" that led to the naming of Belcherville, Texas. The 1870's and 1880's were the years when the railroads rose to prominence. With the advent of the railroads came the development of frontier lands. Since cattle were shipped to market by train, it was advantageous for the railroad companies to lay down tracks to serve the ranchers of North Texas.
When the railroad company surveyed the northern Texas territory, the company decided to lay tracks on Belcher Ranchís Montague County land, and Belcher Ranch let them put a switch on its property. The town that grew up around the railroad was called Belcherville. According to a twentieth-century U.S. Geological Survey report, Belcherville has the latitude and longitude of 33 degrees, 48.1 minutes North and 97 degrees, 49.9 minutes West.
A Tale of Two Rivers: Red and Brazos
Belcher Ranch holdings included land near two major rivers--the Red River and the Brazos River. Interestingly enough, several decades before the founding of Belcherville, another Belcher helped to form a settlerís colony in the Brazos region of Texas. This Belcher was British! However, this particular colony also had an American connection. The English colonization company's agent was Sir Edward Belcher (1799-1877), who was also the great-grandson of American Colonial Governor Jonathan Belcher (1682-1757) through the governorís most famous son, Jonathan Belcher, Jr. (1710-1776), the first Chief Justice of Nova Scotia.
A noted scientific author and explorer, famed for his pioneering voyages of exploration, including a survey of the California coast, Sir Edward in 1850-51 was interested in a colonial venture. Besides acting as the colonization company's agent, Sir Edward Belcher also journeyed to Texas to confirm that the colonists had arrived safely. The colony moved to a beautiful tract of land on a bend of the Brazos River. What was left of the colony was later absorbed and blended in with surrounding settlements, and became subsumed in the regionís history. But a little later, Belcherville, Texas arose to form a significant part of the history of the North Texas (Red River) region..
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