Fort Davis

Downtown Fort Davis

Downtown Fort Davis

The Harvard Hotel in Fort Davis. Photo by Rosie Hatch.

Fort Davis, the county seat of Jeff Davis County, is on Limpia Creek at the intersection of State highways 17 and 118, eighty miles northeast of Presidio and 175 miles southeast of El Paso in south central Jeff Davis County. The precursor of the town was a rough-and-tumble settlement known as Chihuahua, which formed just southwest of the military post of Fort Davis after it was established in 1854. The fort was on the site of an earlier Indian village, which the earliest Anglo-American explorers of the area called Painted Comanche Camp. When Henry Skillman contracted to carry the mail from San Antonio to El Paso in 1850, a stage stand was established near the site of the future town. E. P. Webster, a native of Illinois, and Diedrick Dutchover, a Belgian immigrant who had fought in the Mexican War, rode with W. A. (Big Foot) Wallace to escort the first mail coach to the site, by way of Fort Concho. Webster remained in Limpia Canyon as the first master of the stage station there and may have been the first White settler in the area. Dutchover rode as a guard for two more years before settling at Fort Davis. During the Civil War, when Confederate troops withdrew from the fort, they left Dutchover, who had maintained strict neutrality while establishing a small sheep ranch near the post, in charge. Almost immediately the Apache chief Nicolás attacked the settlement. Dutchover, a Mexican woman with two children, and four Americans hid on the roof for three days while the Apaches looted the fort. On the third night Dutchover and all the others, except one of the Americans, who had fallen ill, slipped out and began the long trek to Presidio, eighty miles away. One day later the stage arrived to find a ravaged fort and the American dead on the roof, apparently of natural causes. Dutchover and the others staggered into Presidio four days later. The Belgian later returned to Fort Davis and was employed as a hauling contractor.

Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Fort Davis is part of or belongs to the following places.

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Adopted by:
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Dedication Message:
¡La pequeña ciudad más hermosa de Texas!

Currently Exists

Yes

Place type

Fort Davis is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • (Chihuahua)
  • (El Alamo de San Juan)
  • (Limpia Cañon)
  • (Painted Comanche Camp)

Locations

  • Latitude
    30.58821110
    Longitude
    -103.89462530

Has Post Office

Yes

Is Incorporated

No

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Fort Davis by the Numbers

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Population Counts

Fort Davis
Pop. Year Source
1,329 2019 Texas Demographic Center
1,201 2010 Texas Demographic Center
1,050 2000 Texas Demographic Center
1,212 1990 Texas Demographic Center
900 1980 Texas Demographic Center
896 1970 Texas Demographic Center
850 1960 Texas Demographic Center
1,200 1950 Texas Demographic Center
1,000 1940 Texas Demographic Center
1,200 1930 Texas Demographic Center
1,061 1920 Texas Demographic Center
1,061 1900 Texas Demographic Center
1,162 1880 Texas Demographic Center
615 1870 Texas Demographic Center