Mexican Texas or Texan Mexico

Visit this fantastic map of Mexican Texas in 1835 (mislabeled as Republic of Texas) in the Barry Ruderman collection, https://www.raremaps.com/gallery/detail/64186/texas-republic-of-texas-bradford

Late last week, a reader asked me if the Red River had ever served as a boundary between the United States and Mexico prior to Texas becoming a Republic in 1836

Between 1803 (when the U.S. purchased the Louisiana Territory) and 1819 (before Mexico became its own republic), the Red River was the border between New Spain and the United States north of the Great Raft… kind of. Filibustering Anglos and Native people who were forcefully displaced by the United States populated the Red River area above the Great Raft and down the Sabine River. The absence of troops, abandonment of forts, and the lack of good surveys marked the region essentially a “no man’s land.”
This all had to do with the fact that the Red River emptied into the Mississippi River, the southern-most major river to do so. It promised to become an important trade route, with the assumption that it could carry goods from New Orleans all the way to Santa Fe. Since the Louisiana Purchase included the entire watershed of the Mississippi River, the U.S. had full claim to the river. But the Spanish claimed a portion of the Sulphur River, a tributary of the Red River, because its flow was south of the Red River.

Spain was tiring of its boundary problems with the U.S., and not just around the Red River. Florida, still a Spanish possession, was being inundated by filibusterers, escaped people who had been enslaved, dispossessed tribes, continuous threats of invasion by Britain and pirates, and occasional U.S. military invasions, too.

So, the United States saw an opportunity. In the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819, negotiated by John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State in the James Monroe administration, the United States promised Spain that it would not interfere with Spain’s claims below the Red River, but that the Great Bend area would become part of the United States. To mark this boundary, an imaginary line was drawn south from the Red River to the 32nd parallel along the 18th Meridian (from Washington, D.C., not Greenwich). This is now known as the Index Line. In addition, the U.S. gave Spain some much-needed cash and Spain gave away Florida. Spain asserted its claims on today’s Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, parts of Colorado, and California.

But that’s not all!

Around 1821, Spanish Texas became Mexican Texas. The Anglos who filibustered south of the Red River beyond the Index Line showed dual loyalties: they claimed to be Mexicans who needed military assistance when the U.S. tried to impose taxes, and they claimed to be U.S. citizens needing military assistance when Mexico allowed displaced native tribes to settle in the region. This is why the “proposed boundary of Arkansas” on this 1835 map extends to the 19th Meridian and 33rd parallel… the Anglos at Jonesboro (in today’s Red River County, TX) and south of Pecan Point (today’s McCurtain County, OK) claimed this portion of Mexico for the U.S. once Fort Towson (today’s Choctaw County, OK) was established in 1824.

Published in: on July 22, 2020 at 2:01 am  Comments (2)  
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False raid

This wire sent from Denison in April of 1873 reported an Indian raid that never happened. This article was cited widely in multiple papers, too. This is a snip from the Kasnas Democrat (Oswego, KS).

Once again, old newspapers reveal stories that hide more insidious events. I was researching something unrelated when I stumbled upon a reference to a “train with government supplies for Fort Griffin… captured by Indians on Cole Creek sixty-five miles from Denison.” (Denison is in Grayson County, TX and Fort Griffin is in Shackleford County, TX).

This raid took place in April of 1873 and is referenced in several newspapers. All of the newspapers reproduce a wire that the Denison Democrat sent to St. Louis. The text of the telegram was found in the April 25, 1873 issue of the New York Herald, May 2 1873 Kansas Democrat, and April 25 1873 Republican Banner from Nashville, TN. In some newspapers, the report was filed under “Indian and Mexican Troubles.”

This raid, of course, is not about the infamous Warren Wagon Train Massacre of 1871. The “train” does not refer to a locomotive but rather, a mule-cart outfit. The supplies consisted of food stuffs, materials, and sometimes, weaponry.

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper from New York also relayed the report of a raid on Cole Creek, which turned out to be false, and like the other newspaper, did not issue a retraction.

While a number of raids on wagon trains took place in this period – with most of the blame laid at the feet of random “Indians” – I haven’t been able to point to the site of this particular one. The only Cole Creek I know of is northeast of Electra (Wichita County, Texas). There are other Cole Creeks but not in North Texas, at least to my knowledge. And none of the Cole Creeks are “sixty-five miles” from Denison.

The only Cole Creek in North Texas or southern Indian Territory is in Wichita County near Electra, which lies about 180 miles away from Denison (and not 65 miles). US Bureau of Soils.

I asked readers on my Facebook group about this raid – perhaps they knew of a place that I wasn’t familiar with?

One of my readers, MC Toyer, mentioned the “Indian Papers of Texas and the Southwest.” In this collection of letters and documents, Indian agents explained that rumors of raids spread often in localities and newspapers without evidence. This supposed raid at Cole Creek, for example, was a complete fabrication. Toyer cited a letter from J M Haworth, Kiowa and Comanche Agency, IT to Cyrus Beede, Chief Clerk of the Central Indian Superintendency, May 8, 1873: “The report of the killing of surveyors as sent by Shirley turns out to be false, also a report telegraphed from Texas recently of the killing of four men and capture of a train. I have learned since I came here that a large majority of the Indian reports are fabrications manufactured out of whole cloth.”

The newspapers never retracted this false information, either.

These kinds of rumors created fear and mistrust where none were warranted and further eroded any possibility of co-existence between the white elites and the Native tribes. So this got me to thinking. I wonder how many of the violent episodes between “settlers” and Native Americans actually happened in North Texas?

Stay tuned to see what I turn up, if anything!

Questions this blog post might generate:

What might the purpose have been for a newspaper to report a raid, and then not further report that the information was untrue?

Since the location of this false raid was also faulty, the person who wrote the wire was most likely no a local. What benefit(s) would a person who issues a false report about an Indian raid seek?

In what way(s) does a false report like this perpetuate racism?

Jail bait

hardy accomodation

Inside the jail cells in a field in rural Denton County.

I love estate sales, where I look for old correspondence and photographs. I’m also nosy and estate sales let me find some awesome places… like today.

I live in Denton County (Texas) that once had a two story, bricked county jail. Built in 1891, it was demolished a few decades ago. I met the son of the warden’s family just the other day, and he mentioned that somewhere, out in a field, were two cells from the old building.

Well, whadya know… I came across the cells today at the estate sale. The property consisted of all sorts of machinery, barns full of scraps, and this beauty.

I took tons of pictures and my poor husband got nervous. He saw me eyeing the price ($1250). “We have no where to put it,” he kept saying, in a small but determined voice. “And how would we move it?” He had flashbacks to the time I bought 500 Thurber paversand drove them home in our F150 (which broke the struts. Oops).

I said cryptically, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” but alas, it was not meant to be.

Luckily for Mr. RedRiverHistorian, the cells were bought by a person who wants to use them to decorate a restaurant. I don’t think that worked out, because I recently saw the cells for sale at the old Sanger Depot, which is an antique store in Tioga, Texas. But I have pictures!!!!!

jail 1891 built 1980s demo

The Denton County jail before its demolition in 1981.

cell

Trees and brambles anchored the remaining cells onto the prairie.

Freddi

Some denizens of the jail from the 1940s left their mark.

Published in: on April 1, 2020 at 11:50 pm  Comments (1)  
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Rural education

Farmeres Industrial School main principal cottage school bell

Farmers Improvement College near Ladonia, Fannin County, Texas. (Baylor University)

In 1906, a group of civic leaders put their collective minds to work and opened the Farmers Improvement College on donated land. This well-funded college, along the Sulphur River and Santa Fe Railroad just southeast of Ladonia, Fannin County, Texas, served African American girls and boys from grades six to twelve and was designed as an agricultural school grounded in the sciences. Male students learned farming and female students studied home economics. Families paid room, board, and tuition to secure their children a place. The school closed in 1946.

Like most historic schools in the Red River Valley, the many buildings that made up the Farmers Industrial College (aka Farmers Industrial School, or F. I. S.) no longer exist. The school was still on the county’s soil map from 1940, but nothing remains of the site now except for a simple granite marker.

Farmers College 1946 Soil Map of Fannin County portal

1946 soil map from the Texas GLO shows the Farmers’ College just southeast of Ladonia.

Farmers College location today

An aerial satellite map of the Farmers College’s location shows no buildings remaining.

Published in: on March 10, 2020 at 1:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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A visit to Brushy Mound

BM 2

A feature map of Cooke County, Texas, reveals the Brushy Mound community, also known as Brushy Mountain (Texas General Land Office).

The cemetery and former church (?) or school (?) site in Brushy Mound, Cooke County, Texas (identified as Brushy Mountain on an 1888 map) are located in some of the most beautiful countryside along the Red River Valley.

Two above-ground remnants indicate that a quite substantial building was once here – a stone base and a very large (but flooded) storm shelter. However, the only reference to a “Brushy” school that I’ve found in cursory search is in Montague County. It was mentioned in volume 1 of the Texas Teachers Journal (1888).

Brushy Mound sits at the base of steep hills and rolling prairie northeast of St. Jo (Montague County). Lots of wineries to try out in this area once your history thirst is quenched, too!

BM 1

A storm shelter on top of Brushy Mound, that sits just east of the cemetery’s limits, hints that at one point, there must have been a fairly large structure near the cemetery.

BM 4

Another hint of the now-gone Brushy Mound church and/or school building. The actual structure may have been a combined Masonic Lodge/school/church.

BM 3

The cemetery is all that’s left of Brushy Mound, which sits in the high, scenic hills between northern Cooke and Montague Counties in Texas.

 

Published in: on February 17, 2020 at 5:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Warren once was

Warren on Red River 1841 GLO

Warren (Fannin County, Texas) sat along the Red River during the Republic of Texas (1836-1845) and early statehood years (1845-1860).

Warren, Texas was once the seat of Fannin County. The town originally consisted of a private wooden fort and trading post along the Red River, erected by Abel Warren around 1836. Daniel Montague received the original land grant surrounding the trading post and opened up a store at the site after the Texas Revolution.

At one point, Warren was connected via a primitive road to Coffee’s Station, Lexington, and Raleigh, all early trading posts along the Red River in north Texas. Today, whatever is left of the road is used by tractors in pastures.

Warren on Montague Land 1885 county line straddle GLO

Daniel Montague, one of the more sinister characters in Texas history, owned the land patent where Warren would grow into a town surrounding his trading post.

Daniel Montague is the namesake of Montague County, though he never resided there – his last residence was in Marysville in northwestern Cooke County. In Texas history, Montague was known as an Indian fighter as well as a staunch Confederate. During the Republic of Texas period, he led at least two brutal raids on bands of the Wichita tribe, which started local warfare between the Euro-American and Native American settlements. He also served as the jury foreman during the trials of alleged Union sympathizers in Cooke County. He and the jury ultimately sentenced 41 men to hang for opposing the Confederate draft.

Warren, as you may have guessed by now, is no longer a town. By 1843, the settlement surrounding Fort Inglish (also a private trading post), had replaced it as a county seat due to its more central location. The new county seat, originally called Bois d’Arc, became known as Bonham. Apparently, the old courthouse in Warren was moved to Bonham in the 1920s but never re-built… and now, I have to wonder where it is.

Warren near Ambrose Google Maps

Today, Warren lies under silt and sand between Ambrose and the Choctaw Bayou in the extreme northwestern part of Fannin County … and into the extreme northeastern part of Grayson County.

Published in: on December 2, 2019 at 5:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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An international boundary in the middle of nowhere

Just north of Logansport, Louisiana, along FM 31 in Panola County, Texas and CR 765 in De Soto Parish , sits one of the more interesting historical relics in the Southwest: the only remaining boundary marker between the Republic of Texas (1836-1845) and the United States. Set in 1840, the other boundary markers were washed away by rain and erosion.

Logansport RT marker 1

The boundary marker is in a little roadside spot that belongs to the Texas Historical Commission. Its nondescript location belies its importance as the only international boundary marker located within the United States. Talk about history written in stone!

Logansport RT marker 2

If you want to see the marker, you’ll have to want to see it… this isn’t a road that you’d simply drive on and happen to find the marker. To make the journey easier, here’s a map:

Logansport RT marker location

Happy trails!

Where crime did not pay in Henrietta

Drove to Henrietta, Clay County, Texas the other day to take some photos and came across this utilitarian, brick structure behind an adobe building (which may be a city-owned structure) and facing the old Clay County Jail (now the Clay County Jail 1890 Museum).

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What could this building be?

This little building intrigued me, because it reminded me of a calaboose – a one room jail cell, often used as a drunk tank. But, I pondered, why would there be a calaboose next to a county jail?

2018 henrietta calaboose

There it is, on Google Maps.

Well, I know that calabooses tended to be built behind either police stations or city halls. For some Saturday night sleuthing, I took a look at the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for Henrietta. The map in 1912 showed a calaboose further down the alleyway (today, it’s the side alley area of the public library).

Lo and behold, the map in 1922 shows a calaboose in the location of this brick building, sitting behind the a new city hall along Ikard Street. So, I surmise that the little building is, in fact, a calaboose. Woohoo!

1912 henrietta calaboose another place

The calaboose used to be down the alley from the county jail, back in 1912.

1922 henrietta sanborn map city jail and calaboose

By 1922, the calaboose was located across from the county jail.

Another wild and crazy Saturday night here at Red River Historian.

(The Sanborn Maps were found at the Perry Castaneda Library.)

Slices of Sibley

John 2

Sibley (1757-1837) is buried in the American Cemetery in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

John Sibley was the first Indian Agent in the Louisiana Territory. Born in Massachusetts, Sibley became a physician in North Carolina and joined the army during the Revolutionary War. Years later, he offered his services again to the army along the Red River frontier. While there, he served as an Indian Agent in Natchitoches. He helped to procure the provisions and guides needed for Thomas Freeman, Peter Custis, and Col. Sparks to explore the Red River after the Louisiana Purchase.

The purpose of an Indian Agent was to ensure the security of the United States and its claims, which meant negotiating treaties, land sales, and agreements with tribes in the areas where they worked. Dr. Sibley documented his work as an Indian Agent through copious correspondence, some of which is reproduced below.

John 1

In 1804, Sibley described the final peace negotiations between the Caddos and Choctaws at the Indian factory in Natchitoches in a letter written to his commanding general. In this excerpt, he explained that the availability of liquor in the “little town of Natchitoches” had a bad effect on all inhabitants.

Sibley all

In 1806, Sibley sponsored an expedition to “recover” a large meteorite from the lands between the Brazos and Red Rivers in Spanish Texas that Indian Trader Henry Glass had relayed to him.

Of course, “recovering” this medicine stone was highly illegal for at least two reason. For one, the Spanish had made their claims on the lands of Texas abundantly clear, and they definitely did not want the Americans invading their lands. Secondly, the Wichitas and the Comanches considered the meteorite an important medicine (religious /medicinal artifact). Sibley thus paid for this expedition out of his own pocket, as he had hoped the meteorite was made of platinum and, I assume, he could retire in luxury if he was able to sell it.

IMG_20171228_112606118.jpg

The “platinum rock” turned out to be an iron meteorite, which eventually up at the Peabody Museum at Yale University.

Sibley’s expedition stole the meteorite from the Texas lands and sent it to geologists in New York once the sample was determined to be iron, not platinum. Purchased by rock collector George Gibbs, eventually the 1,600 lbs meteorite – the largest recovered as of that time period – centered Gibbs’s extensive collection.  Gibbs’s wife donated the rock to  Yale University’s Peabody Museum.

Stage Coach Times

Adverts in old newspapers help to provide context to history, such as how much the Red River Valley was interconnected long before our modern interstates.

Clarksville to Shreveport stage coach via Washington Dallas Herald aug 9 1856

I was perusing several historic newspapers on the Library of Congress when I came across this notice for a stage coach route that traveled from Clarksville (Red River County, TX) to Shreveport (Caddo Parish, LA) via Washington (Hempstead County, AR) in the Dallas Herald.

Note the misspelling of “Clarkesville” – it seems that Mr. Crutchfield needed spell check. It is also comforting to know that the drivers will be sober.

hotel

The Texas Hotel in Sherman (Grayson County, TX) most likely accommodated guests for the many stage coaches that went through town weekly or even daily. Sherman was serviced by stage coaches to McKinney (via Mantua); to Bonham (via Warren); and to Greenville (via Pilot Grove).

After 1858, the Butterfield Overland Stage Coach that was the first transcontinental stage coach line and mail line had a stop in Sherman, in the wee morning hours.

This ad was found in the Dallas Herald of August 9, 1856. I think that modern hotels could take some pointers.