BELGRADE, TEXAS. Belgrade is on Farm Road 1416 in east central Newton County, about one mile west of the Sabine River and sixty miles northeast of Beaumont. Indians who called the place Biloxi, either in memory of a visit to the Mississippi town of that name or in reference to their group name, once occupied the surrounding area, which lay at the Sabine River crossing of the old Coushatta Trace. Belgrade was founded by William McFarland in 1837. It was the first organized town in what was to become Newton County and was named after a more famous riverport, the capital of Serbia. Early settlers had high hopes for their new community; McFarland's son Thomas called the site "the most beautiful I had ever seen for a town." Numerous town lots sold at $100 each. During the 1840s and 1850s Belgrade became a center for agriculture and trade and a busy riverport served by several steamboats. The presence of a large raft two miles above the town undoubtedly aided early growth by concentrating river traffic at Belgrade. The town had a post office by 1840; its name was changed to Biloxi in 1853 and back to Belgrade in 1860. Belgrade made an unsuccessful bid to become the county seat during the mid-1850s. The town, although reportedly the site of one store and a sawmill in the 1880s, never realized the hopes of its founders. The expansion of railroads into East Texas in the early 1900s hurt the river trade. Belgrade also never became a major center for the lumber industry, which sparked growth in much of Newton County during the early twentieth century. The Belgrade post office was closed from 1866 to 1879 and again from 1906 to 1910; it was permanently removed in 1936. The original townsite is now abandoned and the buildings dismantled. A few persons still live in nearby communities, now called Upper and Lower Belgrade.
Frederick Charles Chabot, ed., McFarland Journal (Yanaguana Society Publications 8, San Antonio, 1942). Madeleine Martin, "Ghost Towns of the Lower Sabine River," Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record 2 (1966). Newton County Historical Commission, Glimpses of Newton County History (Burnet, Texas: Nortex, 1982). Miriam Partlow, Liberty, Liberty County, and the Atascosito District (Austin: Pemberton, 1974). Texas Surveyors Association Historical Committee, Three Dollars Per Mile: Accounts of Early Surveying in Texas (Burnet, Texas: Eakin Press, 1981).