The History of Selden
Selden is a small, quaint "bedroom community of Stephenville" (Interview 3). It is located "on Farm Road 913, nine miles southeast of Stephenville in southeast Erath County" (Selden). Currently, Selden has a population of about seventy people, according to the 1990 census. Back in the 1800's Farm Road 913 didn't exist. During that time, the Meridian Highway was the only road passing through that area, going from the Methodist church on the present-day Highway 281, "through Chalk Mountains [and] on down to Meridian."
This highway was used by one of the founders of Selden, Mr. Fosche. He originally came from Illinois, and took the Mississippi down to Galveston. In Galveston, he found "a job herding a herd of horses." Fosche would herd these horses up to Meridian and then walk on to the Stephenville area because his "kinfolks lived in Stephenville" (Interview 1). In his memoirs, he recalls that during his travels, he never passed through Selden because it didn't exist yet.
At this time, Texas wasn't a state yet, so the government of Mexico offered 400 acres to any male as long as he would "live on it and improve it." Many times, if there was "disease or if Indians were bad or if some of the family got sick, they'd just move on to somewhere else." Comanche Indians primarily passed "through this area because there was a good water and game supply." The wildlife includes deer, raccoons, coyotes, and an occasional panther or cougar (Interview 2).
John Stephens, who was a founder of Stephenville, bought and surveyed land in the Selden area. Thomas Arendle, who came to this area with him, paid "$1970 in gold dollars for 905 acres of [the] Babcock Survey" (Suitt). In order to bring all this money to what is now Selden, Arendle had to transport it in covered wagons with "a space in between the beds" in order to keep it safe from thieves (Interview 1). These two men owned most of the property in the area. "Other land owners at that time were J.B. Garrett and J.P. Settle" (Suitt). Mr. Garrett owned the grits mill on Simms Creek, so the place was called Garrett Springs.
"In 1855 John Selden came to the area with a group of settlers, and the town was then named Selden" (Suitt). Mr. Selden owned the grits mill when it became the Selden Cotton Gin, which made its last half-bale of cotton in 1975, which was the last time someone tried "to gin some cotton in Erath County" (Observer). The cotton was picked by hand off of the seed. To pack it into bales, horses pulled the machinery "around in a circle ... and that would pack the cotton into one smaller bale." This cotton gin was later "torn down because the building was decaying" (Interview 2). A historical marker, which was set up and unveiled on June 24, 1989, now stands in its place. Mr. Selden also established the first post office in 1890, and "H. Mosley was the first postmaster" (Selden). Shortly 1915, the post office went out of business.
Because of the growing population in Selden, it was decided that the school in Indian Creek, three miles away, should be brought to Selden. The building was actually about the size of "a twelve-by-twelve building room" (Interview 2). The school/church was placed on top of a hill where the present day church is standing. The church was first called Simms Creek Baptist Church, but in 1881, the name changed to Selden Baptist Church. A new school was later built in 1913 across the road from the previous school. Currently, Selden consists of "an active fire department, an art studio, and a number of large dairies, farms, and ranches" (Suitt). Community events are now held in what used to be part of the school, which doesn't exist anymore. The church is still there, and during the summer, it hosts two weeks of vacation Bible school for children through eighth grade. Through the years, this small community has had many experiences, some good, some bad, but it has managed to pull through and survive.
Bibliography Interview with Mrs. Dorothy Suitt. April 7, 2002.
"Life Along the Bosque: Selden Folks are attached to Their Old Schoolhouse." Stephenville Empire Tribune. Thursday, March 5, 1987.
"Selden, Texas." The Handbook of Texas Online. April 7, 2002. Suitt, Dorothy.
"Selden Plans Celebration to Note Historical Marker." Stephenville Empire Tribune. Sunday, June 18, 1989.
"They Were Ginnin' Down Selden Way." The Erath Observer. November 26, 1975.