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BETHEL, TX (ANDERSON COUNTY)

Michael J. Vaughn

BETHEL, TEXAS (Anderson County). Bethel is on U.S. Highway 287 eight miles southeast of the Trinity River in northwest Anderson County. Most of the land at the site was granted to José de Jesús Grande on October 28, 1828. In his grant application he agreed to populate and cultivate the land, but little colonization was done until the earliest Anglo-American settlement about 1833, part of a Baptist migration to the area. By the early 1850s the community had a general store and a blacksmith shop. A Bethel post office operated from 1852 until 1914; Charles Gilmore was the first postmaster. The 1860 census of Anderson County showed 300 inhabitants at Bethel.

The local cemetery was begun, and a church building was erected, on five acres of land donated by Henry Rampy on July 13, 1859. The deed was made to F. S. Jackson, Thomas Hudson, and Isaiah King for church and cemetery purposes for Baptists, Methodists, and Cumberland Presbyterians. Rampy had come to the area in 1848. The church was used for about forty years, after which it was abandoned and the building was torn down. The cemetery was still in use in 1990 and was maintained by a voluntary association including descendants of the original grantor. Until recent years the cemetery was marked by a grove of huge cedar trees. Local legend says that during the Civil War the Confederacy had a campground at the cemetery. While bivouacked there, a large number of soldiers died; since it was not prudent to mark their graves and leave evidence of the encampment, the cedar trees were planted so that after the war people could return and place markers.

The economy of the area has always been largely agricultural. During the Great Depression of the 1930s the population dropped to thirty. It rose to ninety when major oil discoveries after World War II temporarily improved the economy. Bethel's population stayed around ninety until the 1970s, when it declined again to thirty. The Bethel school district was consolidated with the Cayuga Independent School District in the 1950s, and in 1990 all that remained of Bethel was the cemetery and the facilities of the Cayuga school district. The 1990 population was thirty-one. In 2000 the population grew to fifty.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 
Kathleen E. and Clifton R. St. Clair, eds., Little Towns of Texas (Jacksonville, Texas: Jayroe Graphic Arts, 1982). Michael J. Vaughn, The History of Cayuga and Cross Roads (Waco: Texian Press, 1967).

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Citation

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

Handbook of Texas Online, Michael J. Vaughn, "BETHEL, TX (ANDERSON COUNTY)," accessed March 28, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnb33.

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