ASK JOHN: Marystown was once the big city
Phil: Someone told me that there used to be a community five miles south of Burleson called Marysville or Marystown, or something like that. What happened to it?
John: Good question. Very few remember that Marystown was a thriving community in the 1870s. I personally think of Marystown as a predecessor to the town of Burleson.
Marystown has an interesting history. In the early 1850s, wagon trains from the United States brought settlers to establish homes among the beautiful trees surrounding Quil (Crill) Miller Creek in Johnson County. The creek was spring fed and usually had abundant water for most of the year.
One of the earliest settlers in the area was J.S. Wilshire, a Cumberland Presbyterian Minister. His family started a farm in 1853. Thomas Hollingsworth and his wife, Mary, acquired 500 acres in the area, and Thomas started a village on the property. He christened the place Marysville, in honor of his wife.
He established a mill and a general mercantile store. The Hollingsworth family also built a small building on their land which served three Christian denominations. When he later requested a permit for a post office for the village, he was informed that Texas already had a Marysville, and so he had to change the name. He chose Marystown for the new name. That is the reason for the confusion regarding the name.
There were approximately 100 people in Marystown by 1879. This was two years prior to the establishment of Burleson in 1881. Some of Marystown’s first families were Wilshire, Hollingsworth, Renfro, Tarver, Gregory, Bandy, Ware, Russell, Easter, Killman, Billingsly and Collins. Many of these family names are now on Burleson streets and lanes.
In its heyday, Marystown consisted of two cotton gins, two doctors, two grist mills, three churches, a drug store, blacksmith shop, school, cemetery, sawmill, post office and a two-story rock building with a basement housing a general store and a Woodsmen of the World Lodge.
Marystown was on the verge of greatness. Today, the baptist church and Marystown Cemetery are all that remains of the original village.
What happened to Marystown? The history book "Burleson, Texas: The First 100 Years" states that “many of the pioneer families moved to Burleson and Joshua when those communities were established."
The methodists relocated to Egan, the presbyterians relocated to Union Hill and the baptists built a church building and remained in Marystown.
The history book does not say why the families, churches and businesses moved away. My theory is that in 1881 the KATY railroad was establishing new towns with a train depot as it crossed Texas. Burleson was one of those towns. People and businesses flocked to the railroad towns. The towns that were by-passed by the railroads, such as Marystown, usually experienced a slow death.
Today, The Marystown Cemetery is a designated historic landmark, by the Johnson County Historical Commission, and was designated a Texas Historic Cemetery in 2011, by the state of Texas.
Phil, you now know the rest of the story. The majority of this information was obtained from history books "Burleson, Texas: The First 100 Years" and "Joshua As It Was And Is 1853-1976."
John Duke Smith is a Burleson history buff. Ask him a question you've always wondered about with the subject "Ask John" at firstname.lastname@example.org and what he finds out may be a future column.