Belknap, Augustus (1841–1889)

By: S. W. Pease

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: November 1, 1994

Augustus Belknap, San Antonio civic leader and founder of the Belknap Rifles, was born on March 19, 1841, in Newburgh, New York, the son of Augustus Belknap. He was educated in private military schools and worked in the hardware business from 1856 to 1861, when, at the beginning of the Civil War, he entered the Seventh Regiment of the New York National Guard, on April 19, 1861. After his term of duty expired he reenlisted with what later became the Sixty-seventh Regulars, New York Volunteers. He was severely wounded at the battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia, and he saw action at Seven Pines and Fredericksburg. He was mustered out of service on February 9, 1863, with the rank of captain. He married a Miss Pickard on December 9, 1863; they had three daughters and one son. Belknap joined the Old Guard Metropolitan Regiment in New York City after the war, and he became a junior partner in the hardware firm of William S. Dodge and Company.

In 1877 he moved to San Antonio, where he became founder and president of the company that operated the city's only streetcar system. He was president and director of the Opera House Company and a director of the San Antonio Fair Association. He was elected alderman of the Second Ward in 1883 and 1885 and alderman-at-large in 1887, but he resigned later that year when he became the Republican candidate for Congress from the Tenth District; he was defeated in that race. Belknap was the founder and sponsor of the Belknap Rifles, which he organized in October 1884. He died on a visit to Santa Barbara, California, on June 22, 1889, and his body was taken to the Belknap family vault in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York, where an honor guard of six members of the Belknap Rifles was in attendance.

Frederick Charles Chabot, With the Makers of San Antonio (Yanaguana Society Publications 4, San Antonio, 1937). San Antonio Express, June 24, 25, 1889. A Twentieth Century History of Southwest Texas (2 vols., Chicago: Lewis, 1907).

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

S. W. Pease, “Belknap, Augustus,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994