CHEAPSIDE, TEXAS. Cheapside is on Ranch Road 2067 twenty-one miles southeast of Gonzales in south central Gonzales County. The first settler to establish permanent residence there was Thomas Baker (1822–84), who moved to Gonzales County from the Natchez District of Mississippi and built a log cabin in the area in 1857. He was followed by several families whose forebears were immigrants from England. One of these settlers, Thomas Carter, laid out the town plat in lots ninety feet wide, except for the corner lots, which were ninety-five feet wide. The plat was destroyed by a fire without having been recorded. Dr. E. R. Henry, a local physician of English descent who was born in Cheapside, Virginia, named the settlement. The first post office for Cheapside was established on June 5, 1882, in DeWitt County, but it was moved a mile to the west, inside the Gonzales county line, in 1890 or 1891.
In its early years the economy of the Cheapside area was basically agricultural, with a heavy emphasis on cotton but including livestock, poultry, and grain. A combination cotton gin-gristmill was built by E. F. Elder in 1889 and sold in the same year to H. N. Smith. At one time the town had a broom factory, three grocery and general stores, a drugstore, a confectionery, a blacksmith shop, a hotel, a barbershop, and at least two saloons, complete with a resident deputy sheriff to keep order. The Masonic and Woodmen of the World lodges both maintained meeting halls. From about 1890 to 1913, A. T. Young ran a private school on Fulcher Creek. The Cheapside public school, during its heyday, offered grades one through nine and had from 120 to 135 students with three teachers. Local teams competed with those from nearby communities in baseball games and calf and goat roping. A Delco plant, installed in 1925, provided electricity for the two stores and four homes in the community until rural electrification arrived in 1939. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in 1874 at Bellevue and later moved to Cheapside. The Cheapside Baptist Church was organized in 1893. Bellevue Cemetery, two miles south, was established in 1876 and continues to serve the people of the rural community under the management of the Bellevue Cemetery Association. Its 325 marked graves hold the remains of veterans of every declared American war from the Civil War to the present.
With the coming of the Great Depression of the 1930s, cotton was no longer a profitable crop. In the 1940s the Cheapside gin was closed, and most of the farmland reverted to open pasture. By 1941 decreases in enrollment had reduced the school to a seven-grade, one-teacher school; and in 1949, with only eight students remaining, the school was consolidated with the Cuero Independent School District. By 1960 only one commercial business remained in Cheapside-a small grocery store operated by Joe Watson, who had purchased it from Earl L. Freeman in 1958. A fourth-class postal service occupied part of the store and helped it to survive. In February 1989 the Watson store closed and the post office with it. In 1990 the interdenominational Cheapside Community Church still held services every Sunday, the Cheapside Home Demonstration Club held regular meetings on the third Monday of every month, and the Cheapside Community Center, converted from an old schoolhouse, was still the site of frequent showers, suppers, and post-funeral gatherings. Former students of the Cheapside school held an annual reunion in June. The population of Cheapside stood at 150 in 1904, but it declined during the middle years of the century; from 1972 to 1989 a figure of thirty-one was regularly recorded.
Margaret Briscoe, "Cheapside," Junior Historian, January 1950. Gonzales County Historical Commission, History of Gonzales County (Dallas: Curtis, 1986). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.