By CHRIS GODBOLD
Chief Curator of Collections
When Churchill Fulshear, an ex-sailor, came to Texas in 1824, he received a land grant from the Mexican government in what is now north Fort Bend County. He died just seven years later, but his children — Mary, Benjamin, Graves and Churchill, Jr. — carried on his legacy. Benjamin, Graves and Churchill, Jr. participated in the Texas Revolution, scouting the Mexican army as it crossed the Brazos River. Churchill, Jr. also fought at the Battle of San Jacinto. Churchill, Jr. and his wife Minerva had five children and, by 1850, were prominent landowners and cotton farmers. (Churchill, Jr. had inherited land from his father and also purchased land from his siblings.) He built a large house on his property, a school, a cotton gin and a flour mill. He also became well known for his horse-racing ventures. He built a race track on his property called “Churchill Downs” and raced horses there from 1850 to 1870.
Other communities nearby also competed for settlers to north Fort Bend County. Just three miles north of Fulshear, Pittsville had about 200 people living there in 1860. The town was named for the Pitts family, who operated a store and distributed the mail. All of the mail for people in the surrounding area went to the Pittsville post office which was founded in 1870. Merchants, doctors, schoolteachers, ranchers, farmers, a blacksmith shop and more could all be found in Pittsville. Prominent Pittsville families included the Bains, Walkers, Nesbitts, Cumings, Hugginses, Brookshires, Harrises and Pools.
In the late 1880s, the San Antonio and Aransas Pass (SA&AP) Railroad approached landowners in Pittsville and asked them to provide the railroad right-of-way. They said no. The railroad then approached Churchill Fulshear, Jr., who agreed to give right-of-way through his land. The town of Fulshear then grew up around the railroad and was laid out in 1890. Settlers from Pittsville and the surrounding towns moved to Fulshear to get closer to the railroad.
The Fulshear school district was established in 1893 and a Methodist Church, which still exists, began services in 1894. By the early 1900s, there were several general stores, a barber shop, doctor, drug store, blacksmith, saloon, hotel, post office and telephone company in addition to the school and Methodist Church. Fulshear had a population of approximately 250 persons and grew to 300 by 1929. The population dropped during the Great Depression and stayed low until the population of Houston started spreading to outlying communities in the late 1970s. Fulshear was incorporated in 1977. The last resident left Pittsville in 1947; all that is left is a marker on FM 359 north of Fulshear.
Funding has been provided to the Fort Bend History Association from Humanities Texas and the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.
Fort Bend Museum Staff