While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Charles G. Davis

BELKNAP, TEXAS. Belknap was a half mile east of Fort Belknap and three miles south of the site of present Newcastle in Young County. The nearby fort was named for Gen. William G. Belknap, who selected the site and established Camp Belknap in 1851. During the early 1850s a small settlement grew up near the fort and was named for it. In 1856 Young County was organized, and Belknap became the first county seat, although the town was little more than a trading post and a post office, the latter established on August 14, 1856. With the army providing frontier security, however, Belknap rapidly grew by 1859 to comprise five general stores, two blacksmith shops, a hotel, a billiard parlor, a school that met at the fort, and 150 people. The community became a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail route to California. In Belknap on September 14, 1859, Indian agent Robert S. Neighbors was shot and killed by opponents of his policy.

The coming of the Civil War and removal of United States troops from the fort brought Belknap's prosperity to an end. Although Confederate soldiers occasionally camped in the area, the few families that stayed mainly lived in the fort for protection against Indians. Little community activity was evident when federal troops returned to Fort Belknap in 1867, but by 1874 the settlement had recovered enough to reestablish the post office, which had been discontinued in 1865. Belknap lost the county seat to Graham when the county reorganized in 1874. In 1892 the town had a hotel, several stores, and 125 people. But it consolidated with the new settlement of Newcastle in 1908, when the discovery of coal prompted the Wichita Falls and Southern Railway to build into Young County. The Belknap post office was discontinued and moved to Newcastle on March 3 of that year. Only an unmarked cemetery remained near the original site by the 1980s.

T. Lindsay Baker, Ghost Towns of Texas (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986). Earl Burk Braly, "Fort Belknap of the Texas Frontier," West Texas Historical Association Yearbook 30 (1954). Carrie J. Crouch, Young County: History and Biography (Dallas: Dealey and Love, 1937; rev. ed., A History of Young County, Texas, Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1956). Kenneth F. Neighbours, Robert Simpson Neighbors and the Texas Frontier, 1836–1859 (Waco: Texian Press, 1975).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, Charles G. Davis, "BELKNAP, TX," accessed July 09, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hvb33.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Texas AlmanacFor more information about towns and counties including physical features, statistics, weather, maps and much more, visit the Town Database on TexasAlmanac.com!
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...