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Farming Town to Rural Suburb
The town of Justin, Texas is a suburb of both Dallas and Fort Worth near the crossroads of Farm to Market Road 407 and Farm to Market Road 156 in southwestern Denton County.
The area that is now known as Justin, was first settled by migrants from France who were followers of the French socialist Étienne Cabet who made great promises of free land and the creation of an Icarian society based upon his socialist theories. Cabet entered into a land grant agreement with Peters Colony, who was contracted by the Republic of Texas to survey 16,400 square miles of North Texas land and promote the area to potential settlers who upon settling in the area would be given 640 acres of land. Unfortunately, Cabet misleads his followers as to the true nature of the agreement, the location of the land, and what was required of the migrants to obtain title to the land.
In 1848, about 70 followers of Cabet arrived in New Orleans to begin the long trek to Texas. They had numerous mishaps during the long trek and in the end, only 27 of them arrived in Texas to begin building their new utopian community. The hardships continued as the settlers made a valiant effort to construct dwellings that were a contractual obligation before they would be given title to the land. With so few workers and limited supplies, they were doomed from the start. It was not long before the community had outbreaks of cholera and malaria, which killed four of the migrants. In less than a year, it became clear that the plan to create a utopian socialist society was not going to be achieved and most of the remaining settlers started the journey back to France.
For the next 30 years, the Justin area was a sparsely populated farming community. That started to change in 1883 when Chet Helm and his partner Riley platted the town and started to sell lots. Within a year, a general store was opened followed by other businesses, and the small community became a business center for local farmers. In 1887, the Santa Fe Railroad extended a rail line from Fort Worth to Purcell, Oklahoma. The new rail line ran through the small farming community and a new train station was built to serve the residents in the area. Many of the families in the surrounding community of Drop and Elizabethtown relocated to Justin to be near the rail line. In that same year, the small community named itself Justin, in honor of Justin Sherman, chief engineer of the Santa Fe line, and the Justin post office was established.
The railroad brought economic prosperity and growth to the town and by 1896, there was a general store, a grocery, cotton gin, hotel, and the population had risen to 100. Soon thereafter, Justin became the transportation hub of the area with grain elevators, food storage facilities, and businesses to support the agricultural community. The population of Justin continued to increase and by 1904, there were over 400 residents. Justin was officially incorporated in 1947 with a population of around 700.
Today, Justin is a small but growing suburb that has a total area of 2.4 square miles with about 4,200 residents.