Upshur County
Historical Markers

Texas Brazos Trail Region

Map of Upshur County

Topics (click on a topic to jump to that section).
Cherokee Trace | Coffeeville, Old | Dickson Orphanage | Earp, Alex | Hat Factory | Houston Spoke Here, Sam | Indian Village, Site of | Leather Factories | Looney School | Mackey, Lewis T. | McClelland School, Parson | Murry Institute | Railroads, Two Early | Tarver's Ferry | Unknown Soldier | Upshur County | Walters' Bluff Ferry

1861 Counties on the Sabine
Cherokee Trace

Marker Title: Cherokee Trace
City: Gilmer
County: Upshur
Year Marker Erected: 1965
Marker Location: Courthouse lawn, Henderson at Marshall St.
Marker Text: Near this site the Cherokee Indians blazed an early Texas trail. They wanted a road from their settlements near Nacogdoches to their home reservation on the White River in Arkansas. About 1821 they selected a man known for his uncanny sense of direction. Mounting a horse and dragging buffalo skins behind him, he set a northward course. A group of Indians followed, blazing the trees to mark the trail. Another group cleared away the heavy underbrush and trees. A third group established camping grounds by springs and planted Cherokee roses which still mark the route today. Sam Houston, friend of the Cherokee, travelled it on his first Texas visit. David Crockett and other Texas revolution fighters as well as thousands of settlers from northeastern United States first saw Texas from the road, many establishing homes nearby. The Cherokee remained peaceful as long as friend Sam Houston was President of the Republic. In June 1839 they were ordered from Texas because of raids and intrigues with Mexican agents. A two-day battle ensued on the Neches River where their chief was killed. The tribe retreated, fighting, leaving Texas by the famous trail they made.

Old Coffeeville

Marker Title: Old Coffeeville, C.S.A.
City: Gilmer
County: Upshur
Year Marker Erected: 1965
Marker Location: On SH 155 about 13 mi. NE of Gilmer
Marker Text: Alex Earp, (Aug. 10, 1832-March 5, 1920). A lumber-boom sheriff. Won respect under great handicaps. Born in Alabama. Family moved to Texas; father was sheriff of Upshur County 1856-1860. Served as Confederate cavalry captain. Became Upshur County sheriff in 1880s when timber industry attracted a transient, rowdy population. In 1895-1896 served as county commissioner. Married Mary Ethel Decker Nations. Had three children: John B., Aphra, and Jim. Recorded, 1968

Dickson Orphanage

Marker Title: Dickson Orphanage
City: Gilmer
County: Upshur
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: On US 271, just S. of SH 300 intersection in S. Gilmer
Marker Text: Only home in Texas for negro orphans for thirty years, 1900-1929. Founded by W. L. Dickson, Negro Baptist minister, only superintendent home ever had. Orphans remained here until they reached 21, unless adopted or indentured by good families. A choir of children made good-will trips to raise funds. In Aug., 1929, home was deeded to the state, together with 700 acres of land and 27 buildings. Name was then changed to the Gilmer State Orphanage for Negroes, which ran until 1943, when the children (about 180) moved to state home in Austin.

Earp, Alex

Marker Title: Alex Earp
City: Gilmer
County: Upshur
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: Hopewell Cemetery on FM 49, 8 mi. W of Gilmer
Marker Text: Alex Earp, (Aug. 10, 1832-March 5, 1920). A lumber-boom sheriff. Won respect under great handicaps. Born in Alabama. Family moved to Texas; father was sheriff of Upshur County 1856-1860. Served as Confederate cavalry captain. Became Upshur County sheriff in 1880s when timber industry attracted a transient, rowdy population. In 1895-1896 served as county commissioner. Married Mary Ethel Decker Nations. Had three children: John B., Aphra, and Jim. Recorded, 1968

Hat Factory

Marker Title: Hat Factory
Address: 400 N. Titus St. at Taylor St.
City: Gilmer
County: Upshur
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Text: Hats for the Confederate Army were made here by Robert Potts Bros. hatters during Civil War. In a year's time, 300 pounds of wool was used for 600 hats valued at $7,000.00 Overcoats, blankets, shoes and caps were also made in Texas factories for the army. Housewives carded cotton and wool. Homes having spinning wheels and looms made sheeting, linsey and flannel. Others knitted socks, caps, slippers-- or sewed drawers, shirts, pants. Texas cloth output included 130,000 yards a month from the state penitentiary.

Houston Spoke Here, Sam

Marker Title: Sam Houston Spoke Here
Address: Courthouse lawn
City: Gilmer
County: Upshur
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: Henderson at Marshall St.
Marker Text: On this Cherokee Trace site he had visited 25 years earlier, when he lived with the Indians, Sam Houston twice spoke as the leading Texas statesman-- on June 10, 1857, as U. S. Senator, and early in 1861 as governor. At both times he spoke against secession and in favor of the Union.

Indian Village, Site of

Marker Title: Site of an Indian Village
City: Gilmer
County: Upshur
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: Spring and Butler St. in Gilmer City Park
Marker Text: Established early in the 19th century by a band of Cherokees. Inhabited until those Indians and their associated tribes were driven from Texas in 1839.

Leather Factories

Marker Title: Leather Factories
Address: Henderson and Marshall
City: Gilmer
County: Upshur
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Text: On this site during the Civil War, a shoe factory converted leather into footgear for the Confederate Army. A harness factory nearby made bridles and saddles and also leather lines and breechings that hitched horses and mules to gun carriages, wagons and ambulances, to move armies through campaigns and battles. Leather was obtained from a local tanyard that treated over 2,000 hides a year. East Texas plants furnished the South 900 sets of harness and 300 saddles monthly during the war.

Looney School

Marker Title: The Looney School
City: Gilmer
County: Upshur
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: Courthouse lawn, NW corner Buffalo & Davis St.
Marker Text: During the years of 1860-70 in Gilmer, Morgan H. Looney had a school widely known for high academic standards, attracting many East Texas boarding pupils. Site was 4 blocks to the north. Boys and girls had separate entrances, separate study halls kept by teacher on a platform. Socials were held once a month. People there achieved fame later. O. M. Roberts, a teacher, was governor, Supreme Court chief justice. 3 girls married governors. Charles Culberson, later governor and U. S. Senator, was one of many students who made great achievements.

Mackey, Lewis T.

Marker Title: Lewis T. Mackey
County: Upshur
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Text: Confederate veteran; ordnance sergeant, Co. D., Lane's 1st Texas Partisan Rangers. Served in Ark., La., Texas. Born in Tenn. Came to Texas in 1846.

McClelland School, Parson

Marker Title: Parson McClelland School
City: Gilmer
County: Upshur
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: On FM 726, about 3.3 mi E of US 271, about 10 mi (total) SE of Gilmer
Marker Text: Built about 1869 by the Rev. Wm. Henry McClelland, a Baptist minister and teacher. He lived here and operated a private school, with day and boarding pupils, until the 2-story frame building burned on Dec. 14, 1876. Family lore records that on same night, his son Lee died in a fire, step-daughter Nancy Skaggs wed R. M. Keasler, and his first grandson Mack Florence was born. McClelland (1831-1897) was born in Virginia; baptized 1,324 persons in 40 years in the ministry. He married 4 times: To Jane Stanley, Margaret E. Blain, Martha D. Skaggs, Leela Wilkinson. Had 16 children.

Murry Institute

Marker Title: Murry Institute
City: Ore City
County: Upshur
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: Ore City Cemetery, N. Wisteria St. off E. Main (FM 450)
Marker Text: In community called Murry League, for original land grantee. First school in Upshur County (1853-61). Founded by Tennesseans, Rev. Joshua Clark and Wm. L. Coppedge. Coeducational boarding school. Famous for excellence. Taught engineering, higher mathematics, Greek, Latin, along with common subjects. Was closed during Civil War.

Railroads, Two Early

Marker Title: Two Early Railroads
City: Diana
County: Upshur
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Text: The Marshall & East Texas Railroad, chartered 1908 was part of a line built 1882. Operated a passenger train nicknamed the "Misery & Eternal Torment," and ran a logging train until 1917. The Port Bolivar & Iron Ore Line was founded 1911 to haul ore from Upshur County to the Texas Coast, but never built farther than Longview, 30 miles south. It ceased operations in 1929. The history of these lines is that of many "special interest" railroads. They thrived during the early days of Texas industry, but today have been abandoned or incorporated into larger lines. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1967

Tarver's Ferry

Marker Title: Tarver's Ferry
City: Gilmer
County: Upshur
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: SH 155, 15mi. NE of Gilme
Marker Text: Once located at a strategic crossing of Big Cypress Creek, this pioneer ferry transported settlers moving west into Texas through populous Jefferson, on Big Cypress Bayou. Those going to the interior of Texas often came by horse or oxen, stopping for provisions at nearby town of Coffeeville. The ferry operator probably was James L. Tarver, who lived on Coffeeville Road, 1860s. Many years before, the Caddo Indians forded stream at this same point in their travels. By 1867 a bridge was built at the crossing and the ferry was no longer needed.

Unknown Soldier

Marker Title: Unknown Soldier
City: Gilmer
County: Upshur
Year Marker Erected: 1966
Marker Location: Morris Cemetery on SH 155, 4.5 mi. south of Gilmer
Marker Text: In this grave, the first in Morris Cemetery, lies a Confederate soldier. On his way home at the end of the war, and very ill, he stopped at the William Morris home, near here. There he died, without revealing his name.

Upshur County

Marker Title: Upshur County, C.S.A.
Address: Courthouse lawn, Henderson at Marshall St.
City: Gilmer
County: Upshur
Year Marker Erected: 1963
Marker Text: (Star and Wreath) Civil War supply and activity center. Men and boys served in the Confederate army on many battlefronts and in state troops protecting Texas from invasion. 3 military training camps were set up. Vital needs for military and civilians met with production of hats, shoes, saddles, harness, cloth, iron and pottery in factories in Gilmer and Ore City. A Quartermaster Depot was established on the home front, women, joined by old men, children and loyal slaves, ran the farms producing grain, meat and cotton for army, giving much, keeping little. Home county of southern heroine Emma Sansom Johnson (1847-1900). "Sunbonnet heroine" of the Confederacy. Buried Little Mound Cemetery, 11 miles west. On May 2, 1863 Gen. N. B. Forrest, with 600 C. S. A. Cavalry, in pursuit of 1,700 Federals bent on destroying vital supplies was halted by a burned bridge on Black Creek near Gadsden, Alabama. Forrest asked about another crossing, Emma Sansom volunteered to show way to little-known ford. Forrest swung her up behind his saddle. Bullets pierced here calico dress, but the 15-year-old waved her bonnet defiantly and pointed out the crossing, enabling troops to surprise, capture enemy. Feat recognized by note from Forrest, a gold medal from C. s. A. Congress and "The Ballad of Emma Sansom." She married Confederate veteran C. B. Johnson and moved to Texas in 1876. Texans with Forrest were 1st Legion, Willis Cav. Bn., 34d, 6th, 9th Cav. regts.

Walters' Bluff Ferry

Marker Title: Walters' Bluff Ferry
City: Big Sandy
County: Upshur
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: SH 155, 1 mi. SW of Big Sandy
Marker Text: Located at a noted early-day crossing on Sabine River, this pioneer ferry carried settlers traveling north or south into Upshur or Smith counties. It was begun before 1849 by Robt. Walters, a Texas revolutionary veteran, and used until a bridge was built, 1903. Town of Florence was once situated near ferry on south bank of the Sabine. Ferriage rates in 1860 were 50 cents for a wagon drawn by two horses or oxen; 75 cents for a wagon and more than two animals. A pleasure carriage was charged 40 cents; a man and horse, 10 cents; loose livestock, 5 cents per head.


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