in a Pecan Shell
The land fell into
private hands in 1828 when a Mexican land grant was given to José
Jesús Grande on the condition he populate it. But José failed to live
up to the promise. One hundred and five years later, a group of Baptists
arrived and by 1850 the community of Bethel was showing signs of permanence
with a store and a blacksmith. The 1860 census counted 300 Bethelians.
A church was built on donated land in 1859 and a cemetery was established
that same year. The town was granted a post office in 1852 which remained
open through 1914.
The Union church served Baptists, Methodists, and Cumberland Presbyterians.
After 49 years of use, the building was abandoned and then demolished.
The cemetery continues and is maintained by volunteers.
In the worst years of the Great Depression, Bethel's population fell
to just 30 residents. After WWII
a local oil discovery boosted the population, but not by much. It
remained under 100 where it remained for decades.
The count was given as 90 until the 1970s when it returned to 30.
By the 1990s, only the Cayuga Independent School District building
(which absorbed the Bethel school in the 1950s) and the cemetery remained.
The 1990 census counted thirty one people which rose to 50 for 2000.
Bethel is located on US 287 about 21 miles northwest of Palestine.
There is a new, modern school across the highway from the old one.
These other churches are about 1.5 miles south of Bethel on FM 2706.
in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas,
asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic
photos, please contact