Fort Houston Settlements

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

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Fort Houston Settlements Map

Historical Markers for Anderson County
Historical Markers for Cherokee County
Sketch of Fort Houston
Sketch from the book, Taming Texas, by Stephen L. Moore

Nacogdoches was a traditional entrance into Texas. The Spanish, and later the Mexican governments, required immigrants and visitors to present themselves to the town's officials. Many came down the Mississippi to Natchez and followed the old road west. With the introduction of the steamboat, travelers like Lamar and Sadler took the Red River up to Natchitoches and headed west to the old King's Highway in Texas.

Soon after the victory of San Jacinto, the Republic opened its land offices and settlers including Sadler followed surveyors across the Neches and toward the TrinityRiver where they established Fort Houston.

Map of 1836 Republic of Texas

Fort Houston Historical Marker

Marker Title: Fort Houston
City: Palestine
County: Anderson
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: about 2 mi. from Palestine off US 79S on FM 1990 just past tracks, behind Palestine Concrete.
Marker Text: A fort and stockade built about 1836 on the public square of the town of Houston (then in Houston County), as a protection against the Indians, by order of General Sam Houston, Commander-in-Chief of the Texan armies. The town was abandoned in 1846 for Palestine, the new seat of Anderson County, the fort about 1841. The site is now a part of the historic home of John H. Reagan, which is called Fort Houston.

Fort Houston Historical Marker

Marker Title: Fort Houston
City: Palestine
County: Anderson
Year Marker Erected: 1969
Marker Location: Intersection of US 79 and FM 1990, 2 mi. south of Palestine, .25 mi. north of Ft. Houston on FM 1990 just past tracks.
Marker Text: (site one-fourth mile south) A stockade and blockhouse of the Republic of Texas. Built in 1835-1836 to protect settlers who founded Houston, a pioneer town, now in Anderson County. Friendly Indians would come to trade at the site, but wary settlers often slept inside the 25-foot-square blockhouse, built of heavy logs. Trappers bought supplies there and men from Houston formed one of the first Ranger units in Texas. The fort defended a large area of the frontier, 1836-1839, but it was abandoned about 1841. The site later became part of home of John H. Reagan, Texas Statesman.

*Anderson-Faulkenberry Slayings

January 28th, 1837, A six man Ranger party left Fort Houston in search of hogs. They gathered some hogs and sent them back with two of the rangers. The other four spent the night and waited for the other two to return with a canoe so they could work the other side of the river. The four were attacked by Indians. Colombus Anderson was hit by the first shot and mortally wounded. David Faulkenberry was shot but yelled "C'mon boys, it's time to go." With that, all jumped in and swam across the Trinity, in spite of their wounds. One Indian tale claimed that Faulkenberry fought like a wild man, killing two Indians and wounding a third. Though wounded and scalped, he threw himself into the river and swam to the middle, where he sank out of sight. More

Story of the Campbell Massacre

Story of the Campbell Massacre
Savage Frontier II

McLean-Sheridan-Barnes Slayings Historical Marker

Marker Title: Site of the McLean Massacre
Address: 8 mi. S on FM 2419 to E. CR 185
City: Palestine
County: Anderson
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: about 8 mi. south of Palestine via FM 2419 to E. CR 185
Marker Text: Daniel McLean and John Sheridan, expert Indian fighters employed by the settlers as guides and protectors, were killed here in 1837. By holding the savages in check until the settlers could escape, both sacrificed their lives. More

Map of Location of Ambush Against Major Mabbitt's Fort Houston Troops and John Edens Home
Map from the book, Taming Texas, by Stephen L. Moore
Edens-Madden Massacre Historical Marker
Picture of Edens-Madden Massacre Cabin
Edens-Madden Massacre Cabin
Photo from the book, Taming Texas, by Stephen L. Moore

Marker Title: Edens-Madden Massacre
County: Houston
Year Marker Erected: 1971
Marker Location: on FM 227 10 miles east of Grapeland; Augusta
Marker Text: A famous tragedy of the 1830s. While able-bodied men where away fighting Indians, six or seven women, some young children, and four elderly men -- most of them relatives -- were at home of John Edens (2.4 mi. SW of here). Indians attacked, killing several women and setting fire to the house. The men, 4-year-old Balis Madden, and a little girl escaped. Two wounded women, Mrs. James Madden and Mrs. Robert Madden, managed to survive. The Indians may have carried off some of the missing; The fire burned several bodies. Patsy, or Betsy, an African woman, rescued some of the survivors. More

Captain Elisha Clapp Historical Marker

Marker Title: Captain Elisha Clapp
County: Houston
Marker Location: 10 miles north of Crockett on SH 21 to FM 2967, then north 1 mile to Elisha Clapp Cemetery Road.
Marker Text: Participated in the Battle of San Jacinto. Later became a captain in the Texas Army. Came to Texas in 1822. Died in 1856. His wife Rebecca Robbins Clapp died in 1875.

Clapp's Blockhouse
Captain Elisha Clapp Picture
Captain Elisha Clapp

Captain Elisha Clapp was captain of the mounted Rangers, whose fortified home became the headquarters for his Rangers. On September 16th, 1836, he received orders from Sam Houston that read as follows:

"You will range from any point on the Brazos to Mr. Hall's Trading House on the Trinity. For your orders, I refer you to copies of those given to Captain Michael Costley of the N. W. Frontier, therewith enclosed for your information. The general principles of them you will find applicable to your command as well as to all officers employed on the frontier. You will detail eight men from your command for the service and place at the disposition of Dan Parker Esq., as the local situation of the frontier may require."

Daniel McLean Claim Historical Marker

Marker Title: Site of Daniel McLean Claim
County: Houston
Year Marker Erected: 1972
Marker Location: 1.5 west of Weches on SH 21
Marker Text: Daniel McLean (1784-1837) first came to Texas in 1813 with the Gutierrez-Magee expedition, and was one of 93 survivors of the fateful Battle of the Medina. Returning with his wife Hannah (Sheridan) in the original Austin colony, he settled this league in 1821 and became first permanent resident of area now in Houston County. McLean and his brother-in-law John Sheridan were killed by Indians May 10, 1837, near site of present town of Elkhardt, Texas. Daniel and Hannah McLean are buried near this marker. Because of their pioneering spirit, this has been McLean land since 1821.

Fort Casa Blanca, C.S.A. Historical Marker

Marker Title: Fort Casa Blanca, C.S.A.
City: Sandia
County: Jim Wells
Year Marker Erected: 1965
Marker Location: SH 359 at CR 264, Sandia
Marker Text: First building erected in area that is now Jim Wells County early as 1855. During the Civil War was on Confederate supply line that started in Corpus Christi, followed the Nueces here, went to Laredo, to Brownsville and back to Corpus Christi. When Federals were in Corpus Christi, Thomas Wright, the sutler, drove from here to other points. Casa Blanca was supplied by small boats that outmaneuvered Federals on Nueces Bay, slipped into the Nueces River, and came up Penitos Creek. They hauled guns, ammunition, medicine, and other wartime goods and took out cotton, "Currency of the Confederate." The fort had walls 28" thick, an escape tunnel from its well led to the creek. It's one entryway, wide enough for a 2-wheel cart or 2 horses abreast, was closed with a heavy cypress door. Cypress shutters covered its few small windows. Corner parapets and portholes at 3 heights gave it emplacements for defense. It not only warehoused goods, but also provided shelter and water for drivers passing with wagons along the Cotton Road from San Antonio to Matamoros. For cotton wagons it meant safety from bandit chases and from killing thirsts. In the 20th century the fort has disappeared.

Map from the book, Taming Texas, by Stephen L. Moore
Map from the book, Taming Texas, by Stephen L. Moore
Fort Houston Cemetery Historical Marker

Marker Title: Fort Houston Cemetery
Address: Harcrow Road, west of Loop 256
City: Palestine
County: Anderson
Year Marker Erected: 1985
Marker Location: Harcrow Road, west of Loop 256, Palestine
Marker Text: In 1835, Joseph Jordan and William S. McDonald donated about 500 acres of land in this area for the town of Houston, later known as Fort Houston. An early map of the townsite shows a section designated as a "public burying ground." The infant child of the Rev. Peter Fullinwider, an early Protestant minister in Anderson County, is said to have been the first to be interred here. The oldest marked grave, that of Dr. James Hunter, is dated 1840. The Fort Houston Cemetery is the only remaining physical evidence of the early frontier town, which was abandoned after Palestine was made Anderson County seat in 1846. Victims of diseases, Indian massacres, and other hardships that faced early Texas settlers are buried here. A special soldiers' plot, marked with a large boulder, contains the graves of soldiers of the Republic of Texas. Two veterans of the Battle of San Jacinto, John W. Carpenter and James Wilson, are buried in unmarked graves. The burial site of General Nathaniel Smith, a War of 1812 veteran, is also located in the soldiers' plot. The Fort Houston Cemetery remains in use as a public burial ground and as a reminder of the early history of the area. (1985)

Cook's Fort Historical Marker

Marker Title: Cook's Fort
City: Rusk
County: Cherokee
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: about 3 miles south of Rusk on FM 241
Marker Text: Named in honor of Joseph T. Cook; native of North Carolina; Early settler in Nacogdoches; Owner of land on which a military company under Captain Black built a fort never attacked by Indians; On adjacent land, James Cook built a store and blacksmith shop; About them a village grew up; Population in 1846, 250; After establishment of Rusk, inhabitants moved there.

Site of Lacy's Fort Historical Marker

Marker Title: Site of Lacy's Fort
City: Alto
County: Cherokee
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: about 2.5 miles West of Alto on SH 21
Marker Text: Built before 1835 as a home and trading post by Martin Lacy, Indian agent for the Mexican government. Used as a place of refuge after the massacre of the Killough family, October 5, 1838.

Brown's Fort

Possibly the earliest settlement fort in Texas, built around 1833 in northeastern Houston County by Reuben Brown.

* items are taken directly from the book, Savage Frontier, by Stephen L. Moore.

The following is from the book, Taming Texas, by Stephen L. Moore:

Sadler and his companion settlers moved forward into a territory of the Nacogdoches Department approximately fifty miles beyond the extremes of the current frontier settlements. These bold travelers were armed with rifles yet very vulnerable to Indians as they crossed the Angelina River and later the Neches River. They continued on approximately twenty miles west to a location that was about eight miles east of the Trinity River.

This spot chosen, about two miles southwest of the present town of Palestine in Anderson County, had a "magnificent spring" where "tradition has it that the water gushed forth from the earth." On these fertile lands Sadler and the families of Crist, Frost, Greenwood and Jordan began a small community that would become known as the "Fort Houston Settlement." The tract of land where the main settlement developed belonged to Joseph Jordan.

Soon after the Fort Houston Settlement had been established, the initial small group of settlers was increased by the arrival of other families. Early maps of this part of Texas show the names of the men owning the land surrounding this developing community to be John Arthur, John Crist, Stephen Crist, John Delap, Williston Edley Ewing, William Kimbro, James Madden, Micham Main, William S. McDonald, Daniel M. McKenzie, Elias G. Myers, Dickerson Parker, William H. Smith, and Jacob Snively.

The small settlement of Crists, Frosts, Jordans and W.T. Sadler was quickly joined by the families of Abram and Valentine Anglin, Roland William Box, James Edward Box, George Washington Browning, Daniel LaMora Crist, Stephen Crist, George T. Lamoin, Pleiades Orion Lumpkin (twenty-seven-year-old son of former Georgia Governor Wilson Lumpkin), and William S. McDonald." McDonald would become the first justice of the peace for the area and Browning became the first commissary of the post of Fort Houston.

Of these other early settlers, Stephen and wife Annie Parker yisit were members of the Parker's Pilgrim Predestinarian Church. At this time, the couple had five children: Daniel Murry, twelve, George W., ten, Cicero, eight, Benjamin, seven, Martha "Patsy", five , and Elizabeth, three. After settling here, the couple had four   children. Stephen's brother Reason and half-brother Daniel LaMora Crist (from his father's second wife), twenty-one, also set- on land in the area at this time.

The Fort Houston Settlement was near enough to the Trinity River that the settlers would use this river in future years for passage down to the new town of Magnolia. The site chosen in 1835 was near the junction of the early Nacogdoches and Pecan Point (near Red River) roads, close enough for families to benefit from the river without having to be concerned about flooding problems. The farmland here lay between the Trinity and Neches rivers among the red hills, which were thickly covered with pine trees, large oaks and colorful sweetgums. A fine saline (salt spring) was only about four miles away, and many springs and creeks made excellent water sources for livestock. These benefits were in addition to the financial considerations for the early East Texas settlers; even five years later in 1840, those who purchased their land could still acquire a league for the price of five hundred dollars.

The need for permanent housing was the first concern for the pioneer Fort Houston settlers. The approach of winter in a few months necessitated a sense of urgency to the task of establishing comfortable quarters. Building these early structures was a true community effort. John Crist made the boards for the first homes in present Anderson County from logs that were cut by William Sadler.

...A distinctive early landmark of this area was a line of cedar trees planted by the Indians long before the arrival of white settlers from Nacogdoches. This tree line, serving as a trail for early Indians, began at a point where three creeks, Saddler's, Crist and Frost's Creek, came together about a mile off the old Magnolia Road at a spot known as Rocky Point or Rocky Knob. This trail of cedar trees, planted approximately a half mile apart, ran through the land of the Fort Houston settlement and continued north to the top of the Texas territory.

...For this second land tract he chose a location several miles east and slightly south of the first piece of land. Sadler's surveying skills came in handy as he accomplished the original surveys of this property. Although he would not receive clear title to his own grant of a league and labor until 1838 after being married, he eventually decided to build his home upon this land rather than the original one-third Arocha league.

This property would include another creek that is also spelled improperly as "Saddler Creek" on modern Texas maps. This Sadler Creek branches from a larger creek known as Ioni Creek. Rising by present U.S. Highway 287 southeast of what is now Elkhart in Anderson County, Ioni Creek runs northeast for 17.5 miles to its mouth on the Neches River, five miles east of Denson Springs. This stream was named for the Indians who had previously established a village along its heavily wooded banks. "

The land he settled upon had long been considered that of the Ionet Indians, whose name was later changed to "Ioni" Indians by the white settlers. The peaceful Ionies had their main village in a little valley cove on Ioni Creek. The Ionies maintained a prosperous business, trading with the newly arriving white settlers in the future.' years. Near the creek, they had grown large peach and plum tree many of which still stand near the old villlage.

One of Sadler's daughters, Martha Tucker Sadler Kennedy, late, gave a statement to Miss Kate Hunter, an Anderson County school teacher who collected a good deal of this county's history, on July 17, 1927.

My father, W.T. Sadler, came to Texas in 1835 from Putnam County, Georgia. He came unmarried and settled near the old Ioni Village. At mat time there were Indian wig wams there and an Indian graveyard, but no Indians; they had been driven out.

Wild plum thickets grew along Sadler Creek and Ioni Creek on Sadler land. My father related that every summer when the plums were ripe, the Indians would return to gather the fruits but never bothered any one nor were they bothered. These Indians never farmed; they were hunters and gatherers.

Camping at distances eighteen to thirty-five miles from the Fort Houston settlement were an abundance of Indian tribes, from the Ionies to the less peaceful Kickapoos, Caddos, Kichais and Tehuacanas. Sadler's property was located near the main road from Mexico City which passed through San Antonio, where it branched north to St. Louis and east to the Natchez Trace and the Atlantic seaboard. This road, later dubbed the "beef trail," would be a source of great sights in the future as herds of market-bound cattle and countless settlers traveled past.

Captain William Turner Sadler Picture Garrison Greenwood Picture
Captain William Turner Sadler
Garrison Greenwood

Captain Sadler's company of ten Rangers, all residents of present Houston and Anderson counties, were enrolled for a three month tour of duty beginning January 1st, 1836. In March, the men were assigned the task of constructing a blockhouse that would become known as Fort Houston. By the time the Rangers began the job, several cabins had already been partially completed there by the local settlers and they welcomed the protection. Regional Ranger Superintendent Garrison Greenwood described the situation to Sam Houston in a letter dated March 7th:

This place and the adjoining frontier is exposed from the Indians who inhabit in great numbers this part of the country-the Ionis, the Caddos, Anadarkos, the Kickapoos, the Ayish, and the Kichais and Tawakonis are supposed to be not far north and frequently through the country. These all range the woods and now and then steal horses, and with them there has that I know of been as yet no settled principal of action nor of friendship established-which leaves us without any grounds of confidence to expect anything more of them than has ever been the practice of the savage when the times and circumstances afforded a favorable opportunity of venting their malignant spleen.

Major James Smith Picture
Major James Smith

In September, 1836, Major James Smith was ordered to recruit four companies to replace Greenwood's Ranger battalion. They finished construction on Fort Houston as well as reinforcing Clapp's Blockhouse, Brown's Fort, Lacy's Fort and Parker's Fort.

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