Man’s Home Is Not Where His Name Is
Temple Daily Telegram - October 11, 2010
BUCKHOLTS — As the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway plowed through Texas laying track
from Galveston to the Texas interior, many towns were founded along the route. Some,
including Temple, were named in honor of railroad officers, promoters and friends. Such
is the story behind the christening in 1881 of a new Milam County town of Buckholts —
named to commemorate a former Texas legislator and attorney from Cameron named John Abel
Buckholts, all in the name of connections and friendships.
Aside being the namesake of a small Central Texas town, Buckholts represented Milam
County in the Texas Senate in 1861, and in 1866 was elected judge of the Third Judicial
In 1881, Buckholts donated land for the right-of-way of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe
Railway through a western portion of Milam County as well as 113 acres for a town site.
As a tribute of friendship by the original Santa Fe officials in Galveston whom
Buckholts had known for many years, the town was named in his honor.
Buckholts not only donated 113 acres and rights of way to Santa Fe, but gave the town
the first house, which served as a hotel. A town lot was given to the first baby born in
One account tells that Buckholts and a Santa Fe officer were so fascinated by the long
stretch of shiny rails that they boarded a hand car and rode to Cameron. When they
arrived in Cameron, they were all worn out and their hands blistered from pumping.
“However, the journey seemed to have been an exhilarating experience for the two.”
A descendant of a Prussian family which immigrated to America in the 1600s, and
offspring of an American Revolution veteran in South Carolina, Buckholts was born Oct.
14, 1825, in Amite County, Miss., to John G. and Adeline Blocker Buckholts, according to
Biographical Souvenirs for the State of Texas.
Educated in Mississippi, Buckholts enlisted in First Mississippi Rifles, Company D
serving with Col. Jefferson Davis’ volunteer regiment during the Mexican-American War of
1846. Buckholts was discharged for a disability at Matamoros on Sept. 12, 1846.
Following the war he moved to Texas by way of New Orleans and Washington-on-the-Brazos
in 1851, and opened a law practice in Cameron. One account places Buckholts in the famed
gold rush of California in 1849. He rode horseback to Milam County where he used Cameron
as headquarters for his law and land business, frequently traveling on horseback to
other courts of the state, according to a history report.
Buckholts served as a deputy county clerk while his brother Charles served as county
clerk. The brothers lived in the courthouse and slept on the floor of the log cabin-type
public building. In Cameron, Buckholts practiced law along his brother and with bar
colleagues C. and J.A. Hancock, John A. Hill, Frederick A. Horton, George W. Sneed and
Alexander W. White.
John Buckholts reportedly built the first frame house in Cameron, and established the
first exchange office, or bank. In 1860, Buckholts married Drucilla W. Heslip in 1860,
and they had one daughter. “Milam County, Texas, in the Civil War” lists John Buckholts
as a private in Company H, 1st Regiment, 27th Brigade serving as aide-de-camp to Brig.
Gen. H.P. Hale, and also in the quartermaster depot in Cameron under a certificate of
disability. His brother, a captain, was killed during the war serving in Sibley’s
Brigade during the New Mexico Campaign.
Members of the Texas Legislature published by the Texas Senate in 1892 lists John Abel
Buckholts as representing the 57th District of Milam and Williamson counties as a
senator in the ninth Texas Legislature, 1861-62. Buckholts was a freemason and member of
Brazos Union Lodge No. 129 in Bryan. According to his record he affiliated with Brazos
Union Lodge in 1871, and was a member of the lodge at the time of his death, said
Charles Payne, secretary of the Grand Lodge of Texas.
The town of Buckholts today exhibits only a few relics of its days of growth and
prosperity in the early 20th century, which ran up the population meter to 900 people in
a day when the town boasted a hospital, saloons, restaurants, a newspaper and numerous
Trains no longer stop in Buckholts and the rail depot departed long ago. The original
town is across the tracks from circa 1900s brick buildings still standing today. John
Buckholts and his family moved to Brazos County in 1880; he was elected county judge for
one term, and continued the practice of law. Buckholts died in 1898 and is buried in the
Bryan City Cemetery.
Curiously, John Buckholts seemed to divest interest in the town bearing his name, which
seemed unusual to town folks. There is no portrait of Buckholts, nor a biography of the
village’s namesake displayed in Town Hall or in the city museum, nor are there any
references in various histories that mention him ever visiting the town as a celebrity.
One account made particular reference to Buckholts’ apparent snobbery of his town.
“Judge Buckholts did not at any time live in the town, which bears his name.”