The community destined to become Naples, Texas will soon be 130 years old. Perhaps it is even a little older, but the first Post Office was established on December 7, 1868 at Wheatville, Texas; a town sight 3 miles northwest of Naples near the H.J. Vissering home. It was than part of Titus County, but was made a part of the newly established Morris County in 1857.
The Cotton Belt route later by-passed Wheatville 3 miles, so Wheatville moved to the railroad at this present location and the name was changed to Station Belden on January 9, 1882. The only evidence of the once-thriving community of Wheatville is the Wheatville Cemetery and the Senator Morris Sheppard Monument.
In the summer of 1893, a group of progressive citizens and business men including J. H. (Gee) Matthews, W. J. Gallaway, local merchants, Dr. J. W. Lewis, local dentist, and J.C. Martin, a young Belden businessman, determined to establish a bank in Station Belden. On August 15, 1893 they succeeded in opening the Morris County Bank in the general mercantile store of Gallaway and Moor paid-in capital of $25,000.
Records show that at the end of the first day's business the bank had five depositors and total deposits of $995.30. At the close of the second day's business, with a boost in business to 7 depositors, the total deposits were $2, 469.32.
Because the name Station Belden conflicted with the already established Belton, Texas, the name was changed to Naples on February 16, 1895. The name Naples was selected with no special significance by the Post Office; the name was simply selected from several names submitted by Post Office officials.
Naples was a thriving, booming area. Land was selling for the inflated price of $3.00 per acre. Meat sold at the outrageous price of between $.03 and #.06 a pound. A gallon of syrup, a must on every pioneer table, cost $.50 and a bushel of potatoes cost $1.00. You could buy five gallons of coal oil for $.10 and a small bottle of machine oil cost $.25. In 1897, an obstetrical fee was $7.00.
In the late 1890's came the era of the western flavor, and Naples had its share of livery stables, saloons, opera houses, mud streets and player pianos. Men carried guns and had shootout on the streets. Women and children got off the streets after sundown.
Just after the turn of the century, Naples became an industrial center with three factories and 31 businesses. There was a box and crate factory, a hardwood veneer factory, the Sullivan-Sanford Lumber company and the Hardwood Mill which was the second largest hardwood mill in the world and employed over 500 people.
They build the lake we know as the Mill Pond for its water supply, built its own railroad to the Sulphur River bottom via Wheatville to haul it log supply. The mill kept 7 million feet of lumber cut on its yards and grounds extending from Highway 67 to about one mile north and on both sides of the Mill Pond.
At the turn of the century, lumber was shipped to Germany and other countries. Naples cotton was shipped to England, China, and Japan. During 1910, Naples shipped 4,464 bales of cotton, 64 cars of cattle, 1,000 cars of lumber and 200 cars of ties. Naples had 2 churches, a high school, 2 hotels, a 4-story building containing an Opera House, 2 national banks, 1 state bank, and a bottling and ice cream plant; plus 3 railroads.
A great fire destroyed Naples' industry dynasty, and the town dwindled and economy turned to King Cotton and other agriculture. Naples then found itself with only 833 population, but in 1940 began to grow to 1,355; in 1950 Naples grew to 1,661. Another growth period began in 1960 bringing the population to over 1900 today! Naples now has 1000 acres in its city limits, 48 businesses, and 9 churches, 2 doctors and 1 dentist.
Visit Naples Nostalgia, this site has some history, some great old photo's and other items of historical and genealogical interest.