Village

Mahomet, Illinois, your namesake is in Texas

>Fred Kroner Fred Kroner
January 24, 2018

By FRED KRONER
fred@mahometnews.com

Residents of Mahomet, we are not as unique as some might think.

We are, in fact, not alone.

A region known for its agriculture, with a cemetery and a thriving Christian Church are part of what makes Mahomet what it is.

Today’s focus, however, is on the Mahomet located in Texas, 983 miles from the one in northwestern Champaign County.

The 2000 census listed 47 residents in Mahomet, Texas.

Robert Noland, who owns a cattle ranch in the area, said it’s much less now.

“Twenty people at the most,” he said.

Don’t try writing to any of those folks, at least not if you’re looking for citizens with a Mahomet address.

The post office closed in 1916. Though the Mahomet Christian Church is still active — “as active as it has ever been,” according to Noland — and the Mahomet Cemetery still has spaces available, the mailing address for folks who reside in the rural areas is Bertram.

According to Noland — and other Texas historians — the two Mahomet communities share more than a name. There’s a reason the Texas region that’s about 50 miles north of the state capital in Austin was originally called Mahomet.

“Records show the (George) Ater family moved to Texas somewhere around 1853,” Noland said. “They named their stage coach stop which served as a U.S. Post Office, Mahomet.”

Ater had received a land patent for 320 acres, according to Noland’s research, in April 1857.

The Mahomet, Texas post office opened on Dec. 14, 1857 — at Ater’s residence — and was at the same location for 25 years.

While in Illinois, Ater lived in Monticello, but had relatives who lived north of what was then known as Middletown, which was served with a postal address of Mahomet.

Interestingly, the designation of Mahomet, Texas, preceded the naming of the Illinois community as Mahomet. Until 1871, our Illinois village was known as Middetown — one of two communities in the central section of the state with the same name — although the post office moniker of Mahomet had been in effect since Ater lived nearby.

The stagecoach stop at the Ater homestead in Texas, Noland said, “provided new (fresh) horses on the 75-mile Austin to Lampasas route.”

By 1882, railroad tracks had been laid, but not through Mahomet, Texas.

“The Austin and Northwestern Railroad bypassed Mahomet in favor of Bertram (approximately 11 miles away),” Noland said.

The Bertram Post office opened on Dec. 8, 1882.

“No doubt, the transporting of mail at some point transferred from the stagecoach line that stopped at the Ater Place to the train that stopped in Bertram, so the Aters elected to pick up their mail in Bertram,” Noland said.

It wasn’t convenient for all of the rural residents to make the trek to Bertram to retrieve mail, so Noland said, “farmers who didn’t like the idea, moved the post office to someone’s house (in Mahomet) rather than go to Bertram.

“As various people died, the post office would move closer to what is now Mahomet.”

The Mahomet (Texas) post office was first relocated to the home of Alex M. Ramsey in what was known as Sycamore Springs, but which soon was called Mahomet.

The Texas village of Mahomet was never a thriving metropolis. The estimated population in 1890 was 60 residents.

“The gas stations went away in the 1940s,” Noland said, “Most of the houses were out on the (farm) land.”

A few subdivisions are now sprouting up on the rural landscape, but Noland said the area, “won’t be a hub. There won’t be a Walmart anytime soon, but it is still functional from some people’s point of view.”

Noland and his wife, Glynda, live in Austin, but attend the Mahomet Christian Church (which moved from Sycamore Springs in 1899). The congregation of 30 shares a pastor with the Christian Church in Bertram.

“My wife was born (in Mahomet), on a farm,” he said. “Her family goes back almost 150 years. Her father, his father and his father all lived there.”

Though the rural Mahomet acreage was cultivated for generations, primarily for cotton and maize, Noland said, “the soil was poor and most of the wiser farmers turned the land into grassland.”

The Noland land is now a cattle ranch.

Robert Noland is a former president of the association which manages the cemetery, where more than 775 burials have taken place.

“Occasionally, people from Mahomet, Ill., would drop by to see where Mahomet, Texas is,” he said.

For the record, it is about 280 miles south of Dallas.

The Texas village was immortalized in an undated poem, entitled “Memories of Dear Old Mahomet,” written by Lola (Wilson) Lewis.

Among her lines are these:

Oh! I could write a sonnet
     about dear old Mahomet,
The little store where the people traded
     is no more like the people old and faded.

There’s one more thing, Noland added.

“Mahomet is a historic community,” he said.

Many lifers in Mahomet, Ill., aware of traditions such as young lawyer Abraham Lincoln frequently passing through, feel the same way.

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