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  Texas : Towns A-Z / South Central Texas : McDade

McDADE, TEXAS

Bastrop County, Central Texas S
Hwy 290
8 miles SE of Elgin
33 miles E of Austin

Population: 345

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McDade Texas water tower and museum
The water tower and museum in McDade
TE Photo 2001

Few people can remember seeing McDade on their Austin - Houston trip down Highway 290. That's because McDade keeps its downtown a little north of the highway.

The town center today consists of a single row of buildings with a large grassy expanse between the storefronts and the railroad tracks. McDade's row of buildings consists of the old depot (now a grocery) near the east end and the museum at the western end.

riding "Badger" in downtown McDade
McDadian Cyndie Bergmark riding Badger in downtown McDade
TE Photo 2001

The town has appeared recently in True Women - the made-for-television mini-series based on the book by Janice Woods-Windle. While the story was set mostly in Guadalupe County, it was certainly easier to control the crowds in McDade during the shoot than in Seguin. Many artifacts are left from the filming. Nearly every window contains a hand-lettered sign for the businesses that may or may not have had a real-life counterpart back in the 19th Century.

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Bank in McDade Texas
One of the few buildings standing by itself in McDade.
TE Photo 2001

History in a Pecan Shell

McDade was named after somebody named James W. McDade and that's about all we know. He lived in Brenham, according to the Handbook of Texas Online, and he may have been connected with the railroad, maybe not. The town was formed in anticipation of the railroad's arrival and while we were able to trace Robert Elgin's grave to Houston, we drew a blank when looking for Jimmy's grave there in McDade. (See Readers' Comments)

Things have been pretty quiet in McDade since just before WWI, but before that, from 1875-1884 it experienced more shootings, lychings, stabbings, and assassinations, than Tombstone and Deadwood combined. For example on June 26, 1877, vigilantes stopped a dance, and lynched four men. Whether or not the men were dancing with each other was not reported.

To read the particulars on the wholesale slaughter that went on in McDade, check out Murray Montgomery's version of the misbehavings: Wild Times in Old McDade

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John Troesser

McDade Texas Forum

  • Your web [page] for McDade Texas mentions a search for the grave of James W. McDade, the man who founded McDade. James Wilkins McDade apparently never lived in McDade -- his founding of the town named for him being to support his railroad interests. He also co-founded Hempstead, Texas along with Dr. Richard R. Peebles, and that is where he died and is buried. The article your page quotes about McDade Texas notes this fact: "the town was officially platted and named after James W. McDade, who lived in Brenham". James W. McDade's gravesite is supposed to be in his family cemetery that was on the edge of his estate on the outskirts of Hempstead (not in or near McDade, Texas). Mr. McDade also donated land adjacent to his family cemetery for a cemetery for Union soldiers who were interred there during the Civil War. That cemetery now seems to be lost, though there is a marker on the road for the old Union Soldiers' Cemetery. - Tom Cloud, October 24, 2004

  • The site for McDade, Texas was donated by James Wilkins McDade and Dr. Richard R. Peebles. It was originally a staging area during the railroad's construction. Dr. Peebles and M r, McDade were major stockholders of the Washington County Railroad. James Wilkins McDade was President of the Washigton County Railroad in 1862. He was a representative in the Texas Legislature, 1851. He was also a member of Texas Senate, 1853 - 1855. He was elected the first Sheriff of Washington County after Texas became a State, being elected July 13, 1846. . James was born abt 1819 in Madison County, Alabama. He married Caroline Tennessee F Cooper in Washington County Texas on March 27, 1840. He is buried in the Old McDade Cemetery in Hempstead, Texas. James Wilkins McDade, Dr. Robert Rivers Peebles and Mary Ann Groce Peebles laid out the town of Hempstead, Texas in 1856. It is also of note that Dr. Peebles is also a historic entity -- he was the first convicted traitor exiled by the Confederacy. See http://mcdade.bravepages.com/. For more information, see also "Youngblood-Armstrong and Allied Families" by Frances Youngblood and Floelle Youngblood Bonner. - Mary Thoeni, April 08, 2003

    Anyone wishing to share history or photos of McDade, Texas, please contact us.

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