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Chapter 5: Stewartsville

As the number of settlers in the area increased, several other settlements were founded in the Bridges Settlement area. Three of those communities began in 1844: Stewartsville, Holford’s Prairie and Little Elm (Cowling 11).  Stewartsville (also sometimes spelled Stewardsville) formed around the Peters Colony Headquarters on Office Branch Creek.  This location is currently the area west of the intersection of Main Street and Memorial Drive in The Colony.  Holford’s Prairie was located a few miles west of Stewartsville, and later became Lewisville.  Little Elm was located north of Bridges Settlement.

Following the establishment of the Peters Colony headquarters a small community formed around the office.  Stewartsville is believed to have been named after Willis T. Stewart, the principal investor in Peters Colony, who moved the company headquarters to Bridges Settlement in 1844. (Ogle 14).   A review of a survey map drawn by Henry Hedgecoxe in 1852 offers support that Stewartsville was established on the northwest corner of the Thomas C. Wilson land grant in Bridges Settlement.  It is unknown why Willis Stewart moved the Peters Colony headquarters to Bridges Settlement, but it can be speculated that he may have done so because his brother Isaac lived in the area.

Stewarts Creek was named after Isaac F. Stewart one of the first settlers in Bridges Settlement (Bates 37).   Isaac Stewart’s brothers, Willis T. Stewart and James Stewart became investors in Peters Colony in 1844.  The Stewart brother’s interest in Texas began in 1836 when they attempted to purchase land near Nacogdoches from a land speculator.  The venture did not end successfully, as there were problems with the original title and the brothers were never able to obtain a clear title. (KY Connor 20)

Following the opening of the Peters Colony land office, the company also opened a small general store in its headquarters that brought manufactured goods from England. The goods were sold to settlers in New Icaria, a French utopian community that had been established in Denton County near today’s city of Justin.  However, when it became apparent the New Icarians had no money to pay for their purchases, the store was closed (Cowling 20). 

In addition to Stewartsville being recognized for being the location of the Peters Colony Headquarters, it is also recognized for several other historical accomplishments:  

  • Stewartsville is one of the earliest communities in Denton County, and was established during the existence of the Republic of Texas.

  • Many of the early Peters Colony advertisements distributed in the United States and England identified Stewartsville as the headquarters of Peters Colony, Stewartsville thus was the first community in North Texas to become known internationally (Cowling 11-17).  

  • On March 8, 1847 Stewartsville became the location of one of the first two post offices established in Denton County.  (The other was in Pinckneyville which later became Denton.)  Henry O. Hedgecoxe was appointed as its first and only postmaster. Unfortunately, the post office closed on September 20, 1847 becoming the first post office in the county to close.  The location for the post office was most likely in the Peters Colony Headquarters building located in Stewartsville.   

Following the closing of the post office, Stewartsville experienced other problems (Texas Online - Stewartsville) and by 1848 the settlement consisted of only one cabin  (Jackson 16-17).   With the demise of Stewartsville, the land on which the Peters Colony office land was built was once again referred to as being part of Bridges Settlement.  From this point on Bridges Settlement is recognized as the location of the Peters Colony headquarters..

Even though the 1852 Hedgecoxe map is the most convincing proof showing the existence of Stewartsville, there are many historical writings that create confusion over the physical location of the Peters Colony headquarters office, the name of the community in which it was located, and whether or not Bridges Settlement and Stewartsville were the same or different settlements.  (See Appendix 2 for additional information).

Go to Chapter 6: Early Life for Bridges Settlement and Stewartsville