The people of Fate City have deep roots in the past even as they look to the future with optimism. The town’s unusual name comes from the initials of either William Lafayette Brown or GW Lafayette Peyton, two prominent locals. For a long time, people disagreed over which long-gone resident originally gave the city its name. “There is considerable agreement that the town was named for William Lafayette Brown,” a City document from 1976 states. No concrete records exist, however, to prove when the town’s name first appeared. As a result, there is no way to know for sure. Two powerful men with the surname “Fate” lived in the area in the 1860s, and this much is known about them. The naming of our city was inspired by three major facets of daily life: the ability to own land, the availability of a post office, and the arrival of a railroad. Given the small size of Fate, it’s possible that the Browns and the Peytons, the two families most associated with the town, were distantly related to the first postmaster, Harvey Peyton White.
One and a half miles to the north of its present location on Farm to Market Road 552 is the original site of the town of Fate, which was founded in the 1860s after the end of the Civil War. Because the wells kept flowing even during dry spells, the region became known as an oasis.
W. L. “Fate” Lafayette William Brown (1835-1903), a native of Mississippi, was married to Lilia A. Brown and the couple had three children. Brown was a prominent citizen who also managed a local feed store. In 1880, Brown played a pivotal role in establishing a post office. The settlers had been using stagecoaches to deliver their mail until now. Stories have it that he suggested the name Brown Springs, a combination of his last name and the abundance of nearby springs. Mrs. Brown suggested the name “Fate,” Lafayette’s nickname, because there was already a Brown Springs Post Office in Texas. On July 13, 1880, Harvey Peyton White took the helm as the town’s first postmaster after the Fate post office opened.
The 1880 and 1910 Censuses, as well as land records, provide the scant information we have about George Washington Lafayette “Fate” Peyton (1835-1915). He entered this world in 1835, having been born in Tennessee, and left for Texas, where he became a wealthy farmer and landowner. Lafayette had three children with his first wife, Lucy A. Clayton Peyton (1833-1896). According to the 1910 census, he wed Rebecca J. Peyton, at age 65, after Lucy’s passing. The modern resting place for the Peyton family is the Mount Zion Cemetery on Farm to Market Road 552. Don’t forget to learn about Health, Texas here too.
Concurrently, on December 24, 1864, neighboring landowner Dr. Wiley Turner Barnes (1831-1901), an Alabama native, bought 320 acres from Mark Crabtree, the original land grantee. The current downtown area of Fate is located on this land. Given that Dr. Barnes was the sole owner of the land on which the town was established, he naturally gave it his name. Barnes parceled out his land to the new residents of the area. The communities of Fate and Barnes got along swimmingly.
With the growth of the region, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad built a line through Barnes in 1886. This new construction caused the city to expand quickly. There was a post office in Fate, and the M-K-T Railroad connected Barnes to the rest of the country in the late 1800s. Barnes lacks a post office, so its residents compromised by adopting the name of Fate in exchange for mail delivery. The two communities became one on February 11, 1887. Locals packed up and relocated to neighboring towns like Royse City and Rockwall, or to areas closer to the railroad line that still cuts through the heart of modern-day Fate.
From December 1886 to November 1892, William Lafayette “Fate” Brown served as the sheriff of Rockwall County. Brown served as the Rockwall Postmaster from 1893 to 1897 after retiring as the Rockwall County Sheriff. In 1900, Brown was 65 years old and working as a landlord. The Brown family is buried in Rockwall’s Memorial Cemetery, which is located next to State Route 66.
In the middle of the 1880s, 100 people called Fate home. The town of Fate had a total of nine establishments, including a cotton gin, two general stores, and two established churches (Presbyterian and Baptist). The majority of adults were farmers, and children attended school in a tiny two-room building. There was a large influx of people to Texas from other southern states after the Civil War (1861-1865). Many of the new residents of Fate were skilled in multiple areas, which boosted the economy.
Fortunately, fortune smiled upon us in the 1900s. Two grocery stores, two cotton gins, a barbershop, a butcher shop, a confectionery, a grain elevator, and The Fate Review newspaper were among the town’s fifteen establishments.
In 1876, Massey Zollner and his wife, Elizabeth, founded a ranch in Rockwall County, not far from the town of Fate. The Zollner family, who had emigrated from Germany via Australia, quickly established a prosperous cotton farm on 320 acres of land in North Texas. They hired men who had been laid off from various fields to do the manual labor. Since they engaged in such a policy, the locals began to refer to their settlement as “Hobo Ranch.” Matthew and Henry Zollner, Zollner’s son and grandson, respectively, maintained the practice of hiring until 1979.
On August 1, 1899, the town made history by establishing the first rural mail route in Texas. On September 2, 1901, the route was renumbered as State Route 3.
Incorporated as a city in the year 1900, Fate was a hive of activity. City was the smallest municipality in the smallest county in the largest state in the Union. With the many farm families in the area, Fate’s population had risen to 500. Real estate was booming, and both city dwellers and rural residents were making a good living. It’s worth noting that there were enough people living in Fate to fill four churches.
The south side of the commercial district was destroyed by fire on December 31, 1906, causing widespread devastation throughout the town. There wasn’t a firehouse close by and people didn’t have enough water to use buckets. While the fire did not destroy all of Fate’s commercial infrastructure, it was a devastating setback for the town’s residents who had hoped to see the area develop into a major metropolitan hub.
From 1907 to 1910, the city saw continued development, the opening of its first bank, and the emergence of baseball as a cultural phenomenon. Everyone in and around Fate showed up for the games, and the chanting of “Strychnine, Quinine, blue suits, and fuss, what in the deuce is the matter with us?” could be heard throughout the stadium. Nothing, nothing, we’re just the Fate baseball boosters!
Another devastating fire in 1910 leveled the northern part of the city. The city of Fate was stunted by two fires in a decade. A new brick school building was built in 1911 at a cost of $13,000, but the town’s population grew only slowly.
In 1920, Fate was connected to the rest of the country by a section of the coast-to-coast Bankhead National Highway that ran along present-day Highway 67. U.S. Senator John H. Bankhead of Alabama was a strong proponent of the highway that connected the nation’s capital to San Diego, California. It entered in Texarkana and left via El Paso, covering a distance of about 850 miles across the Lone Star State. Discover More Here!
Some farmers lost their land because of the Great Depression and the subsequent drop in the price of cotton from $.42 cents per pound to $.06 cents per pound. The failing economy has resulted in the closure of additional businesses. Parts of town were leveled by a tornado on July 4, 1933. Lack of resources and population meant that the town was never fully rebuilt. Due to the difficult economic climate, the population dropped to 194. As a result of falling student numbers, the high school was closed. All the abandoned structures were a constant reminder of what Fate once was. All four churches were experiencing a decline in their congregations’ sizes. As a result, the four separate churches merged into a single organization. This could have been interpreted negatively by some. As a positive side effect, however, it helped bring the residents of Fate closer together and shape the town into a cohesive whole.
The population of Fate continued to fall throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Many men and women were drafted to serve during World War II and the Korean War. All mail routes were cut off, the school was reduced to a single teacher, and the railroad depot was sold to Dallas’ Old City Park. The population had dropped to only 150 by 1950, and with no students to teach, the Fate school was forced to close (1949). Therefore, parents had the option of enrolling their children in either the Royse City ISD or the Rockwall ISD. In exchange for a donation to Fate from the Royse City Bank, the local men tore down the old school. The bricks were sold to generate income, while the wood was used to construct the Community Center, which is still active in the area.
Population growth resumed in Fate as the Dallas commuter community discovered it. In the 1960s, a new sewer system was installed, and the Katy Railroad donated land for a youth baseball field. The City Council began planning the Woodcreek neighborhood in the 1970s as a possible site for future growth. In 1975, the Centex corporation donated a fire truck to the citizens of Fate as a gesture of goodwill.
In the 1980s, the 911 emergency number was adopted by the police and telephone companies. As a result, it was necessary to give each street a name and each home a number. The citizens of Fate were honored by having a committee appointed by the city council and given the task of naming the city’s north-south and east-west streets. Both the City Hall and the town’s 150th anniversary were celebrated with renovations.
Population in Fate peaked at 475 in the 1990s. In Fate, residents can now shop at the Fate Grocery Store, get their furniture repaired at Brunson’s, use equipment from Printer’s, and dine at Barber’s Family Restaurant.
Subdivisions like Sleepy Hollow and Northview and Melody Ranch contributed to the city’s 2002 population of 1,145. There was a 51% increase in population to 2,030 in just one year as a result of suburban sprawl. The power of destiny was expanding at an incredible rate. Two hundred residences were built in Woodcreek in 2005. The population increased to 6,357 in 2010 despite the 2008 housing crisis in the United States.
About 18 thousand people live in Fate right now, according to the most recent census. Stags Plaza, Specs Wine, Spirits, and Finer Foods, and FRESH by Brookshire’s are just a few of the new businesses springing up along the I-30 Corridor as downtown undergoes a revitalization. Woodcreek, Williamsburg, Spring Meadows, Melody Ranch, Chamberlain Crossing, Sleepy Hollow, and Northview Estates are just some of the many communities here. As a result of the population boom, new recreational facilities and educational institutions are being constructed.
Despite the city’s rapid growth, residents continue to honor the city’s pioneers. There were and are many hardworking, influential, and closely knit people in the Fate community. Some of these people’s names are commemorated all over Rockwall County. Cities often honor their citizens, both past and present, by naming streets and buildings after them. Residents of Fate for their entire lives, Dorris Albion Jones, Dorothy Smith Pullen, Billie Stevenson, Doris Cullins, Miss May Vernon, and Bobby Summers all made significant contributions to the education of young people and have schools named after them. Some of the streets in the area honor notable citizens by bearing their names, such as C.D. Boren Parkway, W.E. Crawford Avenue, Brown Avenue, Ralph Hall, and Leonard Way. As Fate expands, we look back on earlier generations for inspiration, learning from their grit and pioneering spirit.
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