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James L. Hailey

BENCHLEY, TEXAS. Benchley, the first community in Robertson County, is on U.S. Highway 190 in southwestern Robertson County. Irish immigrants originally settled the area between 1829 and 1834 and named it Staggers Point, but many left because of Indian depredations and the Runaway Scrape. William Henry held the original title to the land. By the 1840s the community had three stores, a racetrack, and a gun club. A local tale tells of a band of desperados who arrived in the town purporting to be preachers. While the leader preached a sermon, his associates made off with a number of horses. Residents pursued the horse thieves, killed several, including the reverend imposter, and recovered their stock. Robert Henry established the first cotton gin at Staggers Point in 1850. By the 1860s the community had several businesses, including perhaps the first saddletree shop in Texas and a beef-pickling plant. The Old Irish Church, a Presbyterian church, and a school were functioning. The Houston and Texas Central Railway reached the site in 1868, and as the settlement developed into a town the citizens gave it the name Benchley, in honor of the first freight conductor, Henry Benchley. A telegraph station established at the depot was operated by a one-armed man named Squires, and a post office provided the community with mail service from 1882 into the 1950s. The first postmaster was John Chatham; the last was Clara Wallin Bowman. Until 1940 the population never exceeded 150 residents; it dropped to 100 by 1950, then increased to 270 by 1960. From 1968 through 2000 it was reported as 110.

J. W. Baker, History of Robertson County, Texas (Franklin, Texas: Robertson County Historical Survey Committee, 1970). Mary K. T. Galloway et al., The Irish of Staggers Point (MS, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin, 1973).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, James L. Hailey, "BENCHLEY, TX," accessed June 06, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlb23.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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