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SENTERFITT, TX

SENTERFITT, TEXAS. Senterfitt was on Salt Creek just west of Ranch Road 581 and 3½ miles west of Lometa in western Lampasas County. It was named after Reuben S. Senterfitt, who built a home and established a ranch there in the 1860s. He was a leading citizen of the community and at one time operated a grocery store, mercantile business, livery stable, and hotel in the town. Tom Kirby was another early settler who moved to Senterfitt around 1875 and whose ranch became a center for community dances and suppers. Arthur J. North, an Englishman, was one of the few early sheep raisers in the territory. His ranch later became part of the townsite of Lometa.

Throughout the 1870s and 1880s Senterfitt was a ranching center, and many of the early cattle drives to the north passed through the town. It was at times a wild place, with saloons open day and night. Nearby was a place called Maverick Valley, where rustlers kept stolen calves and cattle until they could alter the brands. In 1879 Senterfitt became a mail and stage stop on the routes from Fort Worth to Fort Mason and from Austin going west. The community drew trade from a wide area, and many ox-drawn freight trains carrying wool, cotton, hides, and pecans passed through on their way to the nearest railroad station, located in Round Rock. Mary Rahl established the Rahl Hotel, and a telegraph office was opened, operated by Ector Gammage. John and Neal Dickerson and John and William Lindsey opened two of the earliest stores.

The first school was established in 1873 by public subscription. Early teachers were Horace Deanman and Mary C. Shaw. In 1877 the Senterfitt post office was established. A new school building was erected in 1878. This also functioned as a church, and the upper story was used as the Masonic lodge. The first preacher in Senterfitt was Reverend Pownsey, and Frank McKean taught at the new school. The new building became the center of all community programs and activities. A makeshift park nearby included croquet courts and swings. P. C. Jackson established one of the first gins in 1880. Harrison Bellew also built a gin and mill, and Reuben Senterfitt is said to have operated a cotton gin and gristmill at one time. In 1881 the townsite was platted on land donated by Senterfitt, who supposedly acted to prevent the community from being divided, as there was already talk at that time of demarking Mills County from the northern part of Lampasas. By the mid-1880s Senterfitt was a prosperous town with a number of stores and businesses and a population of several hundred.

The Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway began building tracks west of Lampasas and reached the western part of the county in 1885. The tracks bypassed Senterfitt by 2½ miles. People began moving their houses and businesses, buildings and all, to the new town of Montvale, later called Lometa. The Senterfitt post office was discontinued in 1886, and by 1900 there was nothing left of the town but the school building, which later burned, and the cemetery, which still remains, identified by a historical marker.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Ed Ellsworth Bartholomew, 800 Texas Ghost Towns (Fort Davis, Texas: Frontier, 1971). Jonnie Ross Elzner, Relighting Lamplights of Lampasas County, Texas (Lampasas: Hill Country, 1974). Frontier Times, May 1946. Fay Hereford, "Senterfitt: A City That Might Have Been," Junior Historian, December 1950.

Alice J. Rhoades

Citation

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

Alice J. Rhoades, "SENTERFITT, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hvs69), accessed July 30, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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