Historically Fort Bend: The Oyster Creek Prairie
By Chris Godbold
Looking at the intersection of State Highway 6 and FM 1092 today, one sees all the trappings of suburbia. Restaurants and big box stores dot the landscape amid the Riverstone and Glenn Lakes subdivisions. Lake Olympia sits slightly to the south and opposite the home site of the Dew Family, early residents of the DeWalt area. However, almost 170 years ago, this area looked quite different. Instead of homes and businesses, there was prairie as far as the eye could see with Oyster Creek running through it on its way to the Gulf.
Over 170 years ago, this prairie was the plantation of Thomas Waters DeWalt. Born in Newberry County, South Carolina in 1822 to Daniel D. DeWalt and Sarah Waters, Thomas and his older brother Kerr moved to Texas in the 1840s. Their sisters would later join them in Texas. Thomas first found himself in Brazoria County where he met and married Charlotte Brown. About a year later they settled in Fort Bend County. On the prairie at Oyster Creek, Thomas DeWalt began planting cotton and sugar cane and engaged in stock raising. He was also a lawyer and served as a Justice of the Peace in 1859. During the Civil War he served as captain of a company in the Confederate Army, spending most of his time in Galveston.
Thomas DeWalt returned to his plantation and served as Justice of the Peace for seven more years and County Commissioner, Pct. 1 for a year or so. He and Charlotte had four children: sons Daniel and Thomas W. II and daughters Smyly and Louisa, both of whom died very young. The years after the Civil War found the family’s land being divided into small sections and a predominantly black community grew up there. Thomas and Charlotte died within 10 days of each other in 1874. Before his death, Thomas owned 4,672 acres, 1,000 head of horses and 500 head of cattle.
Daniel and Thomas DeWalt II married sisters: Marie Louise and Lillie Cessna, daughters of Green K. Cessna. Thomas II followed in his father’s footsteps serving Fort Bend County as a Justice of the Peace and as County Clerk. He worked as a merchant at the time of his death in 1894. Daniel worked his father’s farm and engaged in stock raising and cotton farming. He later added sugar cane farming and built a large sugar house on his property. He also had an orchard of pear trees. All totaled he had two 1,200-acre plantations, one on the Brazos River and one on Oyster Creek. His family lived on another 1,100-acre homestead. Daniel also died in 1894. Most of the children of Daniel and Thomas continued to live in the area after their fathers’ deaths.
The town of DeWalt received a post office in 1898. The Sugar Land Railroad was built through the place in 1912 and within two years the town had two general stores and a sugar mill. However, the rural community was never really developed or saw any large growth; there were never more than 100 residents. By 1900, it had been engulfed by Missouri City.
Today, there is little evidence of the old DeWalt plantation unless you know where to look. Like much of Fort Bend County, growth and prosperity have paved over the prairie along Oyster Creek, but still we can remember what used to be.
Historical facts and photos courtesy of the Fort Bend County Museum Association, Richmond, TX