The deteriorating home of the dean of Belle Plain college, the ruins of which
still stand some 200 yards behind this structure. - Photo courtesy
Noel Kerns, September 2007 |
in a Pecan Shell|
Named after the first first child born here (Katie
Belle Magee) the town was established on state school land in 1876. A man named
Nelson Smith platted the town carefully, even designating a commercial district.
Smith and others had great hopes for Belle Plain's future - which probably doomed
it from the start.
After Callahan County was organized in 1877, Belle
Plain won the election for county seat - essentially dooming its rival
- Callahan City.
Belle Plain was on a roll. New arrivals as well as
deserting Callahan City
swelled the population. The towns hopes were underlined with numerous permanent
stone structures - including the Belle Plain College - the ruins of which
| || The
former Dean's residence at Belle Plain College|
Photo courtesy Erik
Plain College, 1881-1888|
Photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com
1879 the town got it's own newspaper and success was all but assured. The population
reached a respectable 400 people by 1884, according to the Handbook of Texas.|
Along came the Texas and Pacific railroad. It built through Baird
- essentially doing the same to Belle Plain as Belle Plain did to Callahan
City. Baird became the county seat
old Callahan County Jails originally in Belle Plain, now in Baird|
Photo courtesy Charlene Beatty Beauchamp
| The newspaper
moved to Baird and even the stone jail
was dismantled (to be remantled in Baird
where it eventually became a Boy Scout meeting place. |
region then went through a hard winter in 1884-85 immediately followed by a drought.
Somehow the college managed to hold on until 1892.
By 1897 only a store and a few diehards were left to keep the post office
open until 1909 when it too closed.
The detailed county map of Callahan
County shows a cemetery marked Belle Plain.
© John Troesser
of the First (1877) Callahan County Courthouse in Belle Plain.|
not get pictures of the Belle Plain cemetery, it was about a mile south
of the location of the College. The pictures we got were the main college building
and what I believe is remnants of the Dean's house. - Lexie
Nichols & Jordan Gibson, February 09, 2009
Plain Texas Forum Ancestors
Graves in Belle Plain
Dear TE, I ran across [your magazine] as I was googling Belle Plain, Texas and
thought I would share a story about that ghost town.
My great grandfather
was born in Belle Plain in September of 1887 at the height of BP's success. His
name was Burney Lafayette (Bun) Gist.
Burney's grandfather/mother - my
ggg-grandparents are buried in the Belle Plain cemetery. Both of their headstones
are still standing to this day. Their names as engraved on the stones are: D.H.
Gist (David Hamilton Gist d. 1894) and Pamela Gist d. 1893. They came to Belle
Plain from Kentucky between 1870-1880. DH was a saddler and a farmer in Belle
Plain and the kids and grandkids worked on farms there too as I understand it.
DH and Pam Gist had many children that they also brought to BP including my gg-grandfather
and Burney's father Nathaniel Lafayette Gist.
After Belle Plain died,
Nathaniel took his family including Burney (Belle Plain native) and moved to the
Red River area mainly Vernon and Quanah.
Burney's son, my grandfather was born in Vernon. His name was Burney Lafayette
Gist Jr. or B.L. as he known by. Anyway, their are still many Gist's in the Abilene,
Texas area that are descendants of DH Gist from Belle Plain (who are no doubt
all kin to me).
Anyway, the reason I wrote y'all was that I have direct
ties to Belle Plain and appreciate the photos you all have placed on the web.
They are a glimpse of my family history and I wanted to say thank you! I have
been trying to get a free weekend so I can drive out there and see my ggg grandparents
graves and clean their headstones, etc. Just thought y'all would appreciate my
little story about Belle Plain, Texas. - Benton Gist, Kennedale, Texas, January
Baird & Belle Plain, New Jail
I recently reviewed your site and was very
interested in the information about the New Jail in Baird.
My mother (Nora A. Reed Bridges) was born in that jail in 1897. Also, two brothers
were born there. My maternal grandfather, J.M. Reed was the jailer and my grandmother
cooked for the inmates. They moved from there to the Haskell
area where my grandfather was a blacksmith and deputy sheriff. - James R Bridges,
June 04, 2005
Places, Stories & Photos:
Online Magazine |
Towns | Ghost Towns | Panhandle
| West Texas |
Belle Plain, Texas? Book Your Area Hotel Here & Save:
Hotels | Eastland
Hotels | More Hotels
Plain is one of the major ghost towns included in T. Lindsay Baker's first
ghost town book Ghost Towns of Texas (1986). The second volume was published in
2003. Both are from University of Oklahoma Press.||