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Chapter 9: Camey Spur

During the late 1800’s it was not unusual for communities to move or be built on a railroad line.  In the late 1890’s the St Louis and San Francisco Railroad laid ten miles of track diagonally across the southeastern corner of the county, and became the fourth railroad to lay track in Denton County.  This railroad line was the first in Denton County to be built with no state land subsidies.  Prior railroads had been given public state land to sell and the proceeds were used to pay for laying the track (Cowling 82-83). The St Louis-San Francisco Railroad line opened between Sherman/Denison and Carrollton in March of 1902.   In addition to freight, the railroad also ran two passenger trains a day (Hebron 12-13).

The community of Camey Spur began in 1896 alongside the St Louis - San Francisco Railroad line.  According to McKamy family history, William Albert McKamy and other land owners donated land to the railroad to build a loading pen and dock for their cattle. (Camey Switch)   However, a search of land ownership maps show Morris T. Griffin appeared to own the land donated to the railroad.  The community was located along the eastern border of The City of The Colony about one mile north of State Highway 121.  Today, the sole physical existence of the community is an abandoned water line in the Legends neighborhood in The Colony.  It runs on a line east from the southern boundary of Bridges Cemetery to the city limits of Frisco (City of The Colony – GIS Department).

It is not known why the community was named after William Albert McKamy or the McKamy family but it could possibly be because William Albert, like Morris Griffin, was a prominent land owner in the area.  William Albert moved to Texas in 1847 with his family from Tennessee following a short stay in Sedalia,  Missouri.  The family purchased land in the Bridges Settlement area.  They also purchased the J.V. Mounts grist mill on White Rock Creek and the family moved there in 1852.  When the Civil War started his father, William C. McKamy joined the Confederate Army as a private in Company C, Sixth Texas Calvary.  He served one year and was elected captain and served in that capacity until the end of the war. An undated land ownership map believed to be from the first part of the 1900’s shows William A. McKamy owned land south of the Camey Spur community. 

It was not uncommon during this time in history for settlements to be referred to by more than one name, or for family names to be spelled differently. The McKamy family and the community of Camey Spur seems to have taken this practice to the extreme.  The community was most commonly known as Camey or Camey Spur, but during its history it was also known as McKamy, Camey Switch, and McCamey Switch (Camey Switch article).

The McKamy’s family name was also spelled McKamy, McKamey, Camey, and Camy.  William C. McKamy and his family became prominent citizens in Denton, Dallas and Collin Counties.  The first elementary school in The Colony was named after the McKamy family and/or Camey Spur.

Thanks to the railroad, for the first time local farmers and ranchers had access to transportation to ship their crops of cotton, wheat, hay, corn and cattle to market (Cowling 101). At the beginning, cattle were the most prominent product shipped to places like Dodge City and Kansas City, Kansas (Camey Switch article).  However the combination of improved transportation from the railroad and the ability for farmers to fence the fertile Blackland prairie with barb wire, diminished the importance of cattle and allowed the growing of crops (Cowling 102).  The production of cotton became the primary crop, and Camey Spur joined the Dallas area in becoming a leading national suppler of cotton in the early 1900’s (Texas Online –Denton County).

The first reported store in Camey Spur was a grocery store opened by Morris. T. Griffin, which he later sold to Ryman K. Thomas (Toothacres).  See Appendix 5 for additional information on the Griffin family.

More convenient postal service returned to the area when Ernest H. Thomas was appointed to be the post master of the new Camey Spur post office on July 13, 1913.  The post office was located in the general store owned by his father Ryman K. Thomas.  Claud R. Howard was appointed post master on January 12, 1922 and was the postmaster until it closed on February 28, 1925 (Texas Online Camey Spur) (Jim Wheat's) Postmasters).  At the time the post office opened, the community had a population of about 30 people (Texas Online - Camey Spur).  

In addition to the post office closing, the community also experienced a commercial setback when on November 20, 1924 the cotton gin burned down.  However good news was reported in a Dallas Morning News article where the owner Charles Smith announced a new modern gin would be built to replace the old one. (DMN 12-12-20). 

1926 was an exciting time in the community when a new red brick four teacher school was built in the community (Oral history Minnie May p 21, Camey Switch).  It is believed this new school replaced the Mays School and was renamed Camey Spur.  The school contained grades one thru nine.  The high school students then went to Lewisville if they lived on the west side of the railroad tracks or Frisco if they lived on the east side. (Camey Switch)  Some teachers at the school were Raymond Banks, Bill Hawk, and Alma Whatley, sister of John Whatley who owned a dry goods store in Lewisville. (Minnie Mae p 24)

At its peak, the community had railroad shipping and loading dock, railroad depot, cotton gin, grain elevator, two general stores – (the Thomas General Store and the Bradley General Store), a non denominational church that was also used as a community center and a school (Camey Switch) (Minnie Mae p 21). 

The community also had active volunteers as a February 12, 1928 Dallas Morning News article reported on a project of the Camey Spur Community Garden Club.  Club president Mrs. Lassie Clark and Secretary Mrs. John Thompson won $12.50 for second place in a county community garden contest sponsored by the Denton Chamber of Commerce.

Camey Spur’s largest reported population was 47 in the 1930’s. The community began to fade away in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s as the areas population began the World War II induced rural to urban population shift (Texas Online - Denton County)  The cotton gin, grain elevator, general store, and school closed (Camey Switch article).  In 1947 the Camey Spur School District #49 consolidated with the Lewisville Independent School District. (Denton County School History p 20). 

Go to Chapter 10: Lakes