Silas Baggett’s Queen Anne-style home exemplified the prosperity of Belton, Texas, during the heyday of the cattle drives down the Chisholm Trail to northern beef markets in Kansas and Montana.
Silas Baggett was an early Bell County settler who was born
in Alabama but migrated to Texas with his family in 1841. They settled in Rusk
County in east Texas. Not long after, Silas met Ellen Warren, the daughter of
Eli B. Warren. Silas and Ellen were married in 1844 and assumed the
guardianship of Silas’ seven minor brothers and sisters. Silas and Ellen along
with Ellen’s parents moved to Bell County in 1851. Silas rented land and later
purchased 500 acres north of Pepper’s Creek about nine miles northeast of
Belton where the Baggetts established the town of Howard. Howard obtained a
post office in 1852. It was a stage stop and Chisholm Trail trading center in
During the Civil War, Silas and his two older sons joined
the Confederate cause in Captain Wat Graves’ Company in Showalter’s Regiment.
They served with the 4th Texas Cavalry on the Rio Grande frontier
from 1864 until the war’s end. Following their return home, Silas and his sons
saw the potential for turning cattle into needed cash by arranging cattle
drives to northern beef markets. Silas continued to invest in land and
businesses in Belton and helped to organize the Belton Compress Company, the
Belton Water Works, and the Belton Oil Mill Company. He also served as a county
commissioner for six years.
Silas and Ellen built a large home in Howard in 1875. When
it burned about ten years later, they decided to move to Belton. Using the profits
from his cattle business and other ventures, he built a two-story house located
on Main Street. The Silas Baggett home illustrates the use of stock house plans
and pattern books in the construction of ornate late-Victorian middle class
houses. Silas’ son, Ele, built a mirror image of the home across the street. At
the time, George F. Barber and other architects sold house plans through
published catalogs, and it is likely that a local builder borrowed floor plans
and design motifs from their work.
According to the National Register of Historic Places, the
house is an “exuberant Queen Anne style wood frame house with a projecting
chamfered bay and corner tower.” The house has multiple gables decorated with
typical Queen Anne sunbursts or fish-scale ornamentation. A large two-story
gallery at the center is flanked on either side by a gabled wing and
bell-roofed tower. An ornate gabled dormer projects centrally from the roof
above the gallery.
Silas Baggett died in 1897 and is buried in North Belton