J. P. Dumas, of near Pilot Grove, surveyed a road from that area through Cannon, Van Alstyne, Elmont, Nubbin Ridge and ending close to Pilot Point. For unknown reasons, the road was called, Airline Road. Crossing Airline Road at what is now Elmont was a wagon trail that connected Sherman to Dallas, thus the area of Elmont, for a time anyway, was called Cross Roads.
Elmont was never much more than a small farming community, but at one time it did boast several businesses including stores and a blacksmith shop. The post office in Elmont was established 1884 and ran until 1904 at which point mail was transferred to Van Alstyne. In 1893, county commissioners created two new voting precincts, Elmont and Hyde Park.
From the earliest of days, it would appear that Elmont was centered around its Baptist Church, a church that is still in operation today. There are countless newspaper articles telling of revivals and traveling preachers who would stop and give sermons at the Elmont Church.
It is unclear as to when exactly the town of Elmont began its rapid decline. Many communities such as Mantua, Cannon, Pilot Grove and others blame the railroad for their decline if they were missed by the iron giant. However, Elmont’s post office was established some twelve years after the train made its appearance in southern Grayson County, so while it may have played a part, it is unlikely that the railroad is solely responsible for the decline of the once thriving community.
In August of 1895 the business portion of Elmont was destroyed by fire, this according to The Sunday Gazetteer in Denison. However the same paper reported the following January that three new store buildings and several residents were being built where the fire had occurred, indicating that the community had a population sufficient enough to support a business district.
In early May of 1906, citizens in Elmont found themselves somewhat cut off from other larger cities, such as Van Alstyne due to an unusually large amount of rain that swelled the creeks, including White’s creek. Local papers reported that it was the heaviest rain that had occurred in Van Alstyne in 25 years. The Denison Daily Herald stated on May 2, 1906 that “six bridges on White’s creek, between this place (Van Alstyne) and Elmont are known to be gone, and it is thought that others have been destroyed.” Later that month, County Judge Webb visited the area and promised that the bridge that was over White’s Creek between Elmont and Van Alstyne would be replaced by a “modern iron structure.”
On June 12, 1906 the Denison Daily Herald stated that, “Commissioner Batsell came down from Sherman yesterday and received the new iron bridge over White’s Creek between this place [Van Alstyne] and Elmont. Farmers on the west, who have had to get to town the best way they could, appreciate this bridge very much, and are grateful to Mr. Batsell for the dispatch with which it was gotten in place. It having been less than a month from the time the contract was let until it was completed.”
By the winter of 1906, Elmont had without a doubt began its decline. The Denison Daily Herald said on December 17, “J. C. Campbell, who has been doing a general merchandise business at Elmont, three miles west of here [Van Alstyne], has disposed of his stock to the Oriental Land and Investment Company of Fort Worth. The stock has been removed to the Henderson building in this city [Van Alstyne] and is being disposed of. Elmont formerly had two stores, a telephone office, post office and blacksmith shop, but the blacksmith shop is all that now remains. The rural route is probably largely responsible for Elmont’s undoing.”
Although the community was shrinking, it was revitalized, at least briefly when Mr. Barrett established his grocery business around 1937. When they celebrated their 10 year anniversary, The Van Alstyne Leader ran an article covering the milestone. It stated, in part, on August 1, “Their community store has been enlarged, re-decorated and all new fixtures installed.”
Mr. Barrett extended the main building 15x40 feet and placed two large plate glass display windows in the south front. An annex, which has been built recently, was used for a feed store. An ice house joined his building. A drive way and ample parking space have been prepared so that the farmer and his family will not have to worry about the ice….gas, ice, automobile supplies, drugs, dry goods, feed for chickens, cattle and stock, butane gas stoves, and electric supplies.
The walls and ceilings received a coat of white paint; 600 feet of display cases in the blonde mahogany, modernistic design, display the merchandise. New “helpy-selfy” baskets were used for the convenience of the customers. A 16 foot “deep freezer” took the place of the 8 foot one formerly used. Plans were made for the installation of a 10 foot meat display box and a refrigerator vegetable counter.
Mr. Barrett said, “the people of this community helped me make my money; now I want to show them my appreciation by giving them the best of everything.”
The article went on to say, “They started their community store career at Sedalia, moving from there to Elmont.
Later, the store burned down, and it was relocated to Van Alstyne, occupying the building that Diamonds, IGA now resides in.
While Elmont diminished in size as far as businesses go, it continued to support both a church as well as a school. In 1940, the trustees of the Elmont common district went to court to try and prevent its absorption into the Van Alstyne Independent School district. However, the school would eventually close and consolidate with Van Alstyne and other nearby school districts.
Another favorite past time of Elmont was their baseball team. According to The Howe Messenger on June 16, 1939, “The Elmont team is fully equipped and uniformed and has not lost a game this season, it is reported.” Citizens of Elmont also disapproved of drinking, at least in the spring of 1936 when only 6 voted in favor of legalizing the sale of beer, while 36 were against it. Other local towns voted similar with the exception of Van Alstyne which reported a close polling of 162 for and 168 against.
Today, there is not much left of the old community of Elmont. There is an old red barn on the north side of FM 121 near where Barrett’s store once stood at the intersection of FM 3356. There’s the Elmont Baptist Church which is very much alive and has withstood the test of time. The old structure sits on the south side of FM 121 while the new sanctuary is on the north side. There are streets such as Lover’s Leap, Majors and Durning, which seek to honor those of long ago. There are two cemeteries nearby, the old Warden Cemetery south on FM 3356 and the small Simpson Family cemetery which has had a small subdivision literally spring up all around it off of Belmont Ln.
Dusty Williams is a 9th generation Grayson County Resident and President of the Van Alstyne Historical Society. He can be reached at email@example.com