Brief History of The Colony

A Brief History of The Colony

By Don Beckel

The Colony was named to create a living monument to the Peters Colony Land Grant Company and for the spirit and courage of the settlers who moved to Texas due to the company's promotional efforts from 1841-1848. Peters Colony was named after William S Peters, a Kentucky businessman and musician. Peters obtained a contract from the Republic of Texas to survey and promote settlement on 16,400 square miles of land that included Denton County and part, if not all, of 25 other North Texas counties. The contract was modeled after the Mexican empresario free land program and authorized Peters Colony to give settlers up to 640 acres of free land. Peters Colony is credited with recruiting 2,200 families, who were known as Peters Colonists. Ten Peters Colonist families settled on land that is now The Colony. Peters Colony is also credited with many other settlers moving to North Texas, including John Neely Bryan, who is considered the founder of the City of Dallas. 

The Colony is located on the site of Bridges Settlement, which was established in 1843 and named after the family of John and Mildred Bridges and their sons, William and David. In 1844, the settlement became the first stop for Peters Colonists when another Peters Colony investor, Willis T. Stewart, opened the company's headquarters and a small general store there. He hired Henry O. Hedgcoxe to manage the office and be the company's chief surveyor. Though Hedgcoxe was a good administrator, his poor people skills provoked a great deal of mistrust regarding the company's surveys. This mistrust ultimately led to disgruntled land speculators raiding and burning the company office on July 15, 1852. This event is noted in Texas history as the Hedgcoxe War. 

Prior to the development of The Colony, the area was the location of several small settlements and communities. In addition to Bridges Settlement, there was Stewartsville (1844), Camey (1852), Stewarts Creek (1859), and Camey Spur (1896). Camey Spur, established by several area farmers who donated land to build a loading pen along a new railroad line, appears to have been the most successful of the communities. The community became the site for two general stores, a post office, a grain elevator, a railroad shipping dock and office, a cotton gin, a church, and a four-room school. It had a population of 47 in the 1930s before fading away during World War II. 

The Colony has significant historical importance. Bridges Settlement was founded when Texas was a Republic. It is also recognized as the first settlement in Denton County, the Texas headquarters of Peters Colony, and it included one of Denton County's first cemeteries, Bridges Cemetery. Stewartsville shares the distinction of being the location of the first post office established in Denton County (1847). The first school in the area was Stewarts Creek Community School, which opened with 30 students in 1876. Also, one of the original land grants was issued to the heirs of Samuel B. Evans, who died at the Alamo. The Colony is the location of two Texas historical makers recognizing the Hedgcoxe War and Bridges Cemetery. 

The Colony, a community on the eastern shore of Lewisville Lake, began in 1973 as a 2,500-acre master-planned community developed by Dallas homebuilder Fox and Jacobs. During October 1974, the first 20th century suburban residents re-established the area as a community. History seems to have repeated itself with The Colony's first businesses: a Fox and Jacobs sales office and a Stop and Go convenience store, mirroring the Peters Colony land office and Bridges Settlement's general store. The Colony's first fire station opened in 1975 and the first school, Camey Elementary School, opened in 1977. When it incorporated in January 1977, The Colony's population was approximately 5,000. Today's population is approximately 39,500.