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.

Texas Lakes Trail Region

Map of Montague County Historic Sites
Markers (click on a topic to jump to that section.)
Brushy Mound | Butterfield Overland Stage Line Crossing | Forestburg | Head of Elm (Saint Jo) | Highways Paved With Gold | McGrady Cemetery | Montague Cemetery | Montague County | Montague County Trails | Early Trails in Montague County | Montague Pioneer Memorial | North Nocona Oil Field-Montague County Oil Discovery | Perryman Cemetery | Queen's Peak Indian Lookout | Red River Station | Red River Station | Town of Saint Jo | Spanish Fort | Site of the 1759 Taovayo Victory Over Spain
Uncommemorated and Unmapped Sites
Big Tree's Bloody Raid Through Montague and Cooke Counties | Freeman, Dick; and John Bailey | Hagler, D.S. and Marion | Kilgore, Jack and Daniel Wainscott
Uncommemorated Active Battle Map (Stories below are on map.)
Mrs. Sarah Ann Walker | Mrs. Susan Herring | W.A. Morris | Big Raid into Montague and Cooke Counties, December 1863 | Raid Through Montague, Cooke and Denton Counties, September 1866 | Mack Boren | Son of Charlie C. Guinn | Josiah and John Short | Mrs. W.T. Williams | Kendall Lofton | Giles Gordon (See Below) | Box Family | Dye Mound Fight | Indian Raid Near Victoria Peak | Capt. F.M. Totty's Men | Beale and Maxey Families | Bailey and John Stump | W.A. and Arch Johnson | Bob Lackey and Capture of McLeroy Children | Levi Perryman | Private Tulley | Lt. Van Robbins | St. Clair Jones | Kenon and Paschal Families | Big Raid Through Wise, Denton and Montague Counties | Spencer Mueller and Son, Ira | William Bailey & D.B. Green
1861 Red River Valley
Brushy Mound

Marker Title: Brushy Mound
Address: Not located
City: Bowie
Marker Location: Not located, on private property.
Marker Text: From this lookout on whose summit an Indian chief lies buried, Kiowas and Comanches spied on early settlers before launching unexpected attacks.

Butterfield Overland Stage Line Crossing

Marker Title: Butterfield Overland Stage Line Crossing
Address: FM 455, about 5 mi. S of Forestburg
City: Forestburg
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: From Forestburg take FM 455 about 5 miles south.
Marker Text: This is the crossing used by the Southern Overland Mail Line connecting St. Louis and San Francisco with semi-weekly stage and mail service 1858-1861; The length of the route, 2795 miles, and the superior service maintained made this a pioneer enterprise of first magnitude.


Marker Title: Forestburg
Address: SH 455, S of Forestburg
City: Forestburg
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: On SH 455, south side of Forestburg.
Marker Text: Established after the Civil War in memory of its pioneers who battled with the Indians, endured hardships and conquered the soil that civilization might live.

Head of Elm (Saint Jo)

Marker Title: Head of Elm (Saint Jo)
Address: US 82, (south side of square)
City: Saint Jo
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: On US 82 (south side of square) in Saint Jo.
Marker Text: 1849-Capt. Randolph B. Marcy U.S. Government Survey Trip; 1854-Capt. John Pope Surveying proposed Federal Railroad; 1855-U.S. 2nd Cavalry Under Col. Albert Sidney Johnson en route to establish Texas Frontier forts, reported settlement here; 1857-Col. James B. Llach Heading "corn train" to Fort Belknap; 1860-First U.S. Post Office John W. Womble Post Master; 1873-Saint Jo Founded On site by Capt. I.H. Boggess & I.A. Bowell. (1964)

Highways Paved With Gold

Marker Title: Highways Paved With Gold
Address: US 81, 5 mi. S of Ringgold
City: Ringgold
Year Marker Erected: 1963
Marker Location: From Ringgold take US 81 5 miles south to roadside park.
Marker Text: From the immemorial man has searched for a land where streets were paved with gold. As early as the 16th Century he was in Texas, lured by Indian reports of "Seven Cities of Gold." They never were found. But they provided the basis for legends of untold riches--stories still spun by some Texans. Surprisingly, perhaps, many of the "tall tales" are more fact than fiction. For instance, both this section of U.S. Highway 81 and a portion of adjacent U.S. Highway 287 are actually paved with gold! The story began in 1936 when the Texas Highway Department was paving the two highways here in Montague County. Sand for the concrete was taken from a nearby pit, opened three years earlier. The grains glistened with such intensity as they were mixed that a closer examination seemed prudent. So a small supply was sent to a Fort Worth laboratory for assay. Back came the report: the sand contained gold. The news sent the owner of the pit in feverish search of the mother lode. But in vain. Top assays on his extensive "soundings" came to no more than 54 cents per ton of ore. His ardor was cooled further when he learned the gold was not free but deeply imbedded in the sand. Disheartened, he settled back into routine sand production. From his pit, however, eventually came $250,000 in gold--all part of the sand. It has been reckoned that as much as $31,000 is distributed along 39 miles of roadway. Some $25,000 in U.S. Highway 81 and $6,000 in U.S. Highway 287. The remainder has gone into other construction in the region, including numerous buildings in which concrete has been used. So it is that today's motorist has discovered the highways paved with gold and the "golden" cities which his predecessors sought in vain. (1963)

McGrady Cemetery

Marker Title: McGrady Cemetery
Address: CR 401 off FM 3206, 4 mi. from Saint Jo
City: Saint Jo
Year Marker Erected: 1991
Marker Location: From Saint Jo take FM 3206 about 4 miles; head south on County Road 401 to cemetery.
Marker Text: Allen R. McGrady and his wife Elizabeth (Cox) moved to this area in 1859. They settled on 160 acres of land along Clear Creek. This cemetery began in the 1860s after a McGrady employee was killed by indians and buried on the family farm. One acre of land was set aside for the graveyard, which became the final resting place for many McGrady family members and neighbors. Allen and Elizabeth McGrady, both of whom died in September 1899, are interred here. The cemetery stands as a reminder of Montague County's pioneer heritage. (1991)

Montague Cemetery

Marker Title: Montague Cemetery
Address: SH 175, N side of Montague
City: Montague
Year Marker Erected: 1985
Marker Location: One block east of SH 175, north side of town, Montague.
Marker Text: The first known settlers in Montague County arrived in 1849. After the county was formed in 1857, the City of Montague was created a year later to serve as county seat. The town grew slowly at first, but by 1871 was developing rapidly and experiencing an influx of new settlers. James M. Gibbons, one of the early pioneers, came to this area from Tennessee. Family history indicates that Gibbons donated the first plot of land in this cemetery for the burial of his wife, Elizabeth Lankford Gibbons, upon her death in 1862. He later married Nancy Elizabeth Furr, who also is buried here. Gibbons died in 1899 and is interred in the cemetery, as are several other family members and numerous other early settlers. The Montague Cemetery contains both unmarked and marked graves. About 60 of the legible tombstones bear dates from the 1800s. Several Confederate veterans and a few early Texas Rangers also are buried here. With ties to the early settlement of Montague, this graveyard is an important part of the area's history. Care for the burial sites is provided by the Montague Cemetery Association. (1985)

Picture of Lt. Colonel Daniel Montague
Lt. Colonel Daniel Montague
Montague County

Marker Title: Montague County
Address: US 81 on west side of Bowie
City: Bowie
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: US 81, in city park (Meyers Park) on west side of Bowie.
Marker Text: Created December 24, 1857; organized August 2, 1858; named in honor of Daniel Montague 1798-1876; Pioneer Texas surveyor and Indian fighter; commander of a company in the Mexican War; Montague, County Seat

Montague County Trails

Marker Title: Montague County Trails
Address: US 82, east side of Nocona
City: Nocona
Year Marker Erected: 1986
Marker Location: On US 82, east side of Nocona.

Early Trails in Montague County

Marker Title: Early Trails in Montague County
Address: US 82, 1 mi west of Ringgold
City: Ringgold
Year Marker Erected: 1969
Marker Location: From Ringgold take US 82 1 mile west.
Marker Text: Lying on a direct line of travel from the United States to Mexico, California, and points west, the area now Montague County was once a network of trails. One of the first area roads forged by white men was the Chihuahua Traders Trail of 1840. Blazed by merchants hoping to open a trade route from Mexico to St. Louis, Mo., this road crossed present Montague County and left tracks for later travelers. In 1841 came the Texan-Santa Fe Expedition; though it failed to open regular commerce between the Republic of Texas and Northern Mexico, this delegation also left a road and enforced the claims of Texas to Western territories. In 1849 U.S. Army Capt. Randolph B. Marcy charted a "California Trail", using parts of older routes. This soon grew into a thoroughfare for forty-niners and sturdy pioneers who came later. In 1858 the famous Butterfield Overland Mail Line came across the county; and in the 1870's, as Texas was building her image as a cattle empire, Montague County was crossed by two feeder branches of the Chisholm Trail. In 1882, the county's first railroad followed much of the Texan-Santa Fe Trail. Today Highway 82 partly traces Marcy's route and other roads parallel many of these early trails. (1969)

Montague Pioneer Memorial

Marker Title: Montague Pioneer Memorial
Address: Courthouse square
City: Montague
Year Marker Erected: 1958
Marker Location: Northwest corner county courthouse square, Montague.

North Nocona Oil Field-Montague County Oil Discovery

Marker Title: North Nocona Oil Field - Montague County Oil Discovery 1922
Address: FM 103, 10 mi. W of Nocona
City: Nocona
Year Marker Erected: 1972
Marker Location: From Nocona take FM 103 about 10 miles north.
Marker Text: Pennsylvania oil man George Williams, backed by Cad McCall, drilled for oil intermittently, 1918-22, beginning at Eagle Point (4.5 mi. SE). Leasing by individuals and major companies--including Phil Lesh, A.E. Humphrey, and the Texas Co.--kept rigs working. Gas blew in at 800-foot depth on J.W. Maddox-J.E. Lemons land, one well yielding over 100,000,000 cubic feet daily. The gas was piped to Nocona and rural homes. Oil was discovered in 1922 on Maddox site, at about 1,000 feet. Production continued at 1,000-2,000 feet, there and elsewhere. The gas caused trouble: a capped well blew mud from prairie dog holes and gas from water well a quarter-mile away. In 1925, a gas well on W.W. Jones land (2 mi. W) blew out a gigantic crater. Another well (.75 mi. W) caught fire, burned its rig, and was finally doused by nationally-famed oil well fire fighter Tex Thornton. With an estimated 100,000,000-barrel total on record, this 12,295-acre field still produces. (1972)

Perryman Cemetery

Marker Title: Perryman Cemetery
Address: FM 455, NW of Forestburg
City: Forestburg
Year Marker Erected: 1983
Marker Location: From Forestburg take FM 455 about one mile to cemetery.
Marker Text: The first marked grave in this burial ground is than of an infant who died in 1862. Other burials include those of a Mr. Jones, a well-digger killed by Indians in 1863, and Dory Booher and Ben Steadham, former Confederate soldiers who had been captured at Lookout Mountain, Tenn. during the Civil War. In 1883 the cemetery was purchased by Levi Perryman (1839-1921) and deeded to Montague County. A Forestburg community leader, Perryman had been a Confederate soldier, an indian fighter, and sheriff. Still used, this cemetery serves as a reminder of the area's pioneers. (1983)

Queen's Peak Indian Lookout

Marker Title: Queen's Peak Indian Lookout
Address: Not Located
City: Bowie
Marker Location: Not Located - on private property.
Marker Text: Discovered by white men in 1848. Permanent white settlement began in this region in 1858. Its early history is a long story of Indian raids. In memory of pioneer women, who, in the midst of such dangers, daily risked their lives for others, this monument is erected.

Red River Station

Marker Title: Red River Station
Address: Not Located
City: Bowie
Marker Location: Not located - private property.
Marker Text: "Jumping-off point" on the famous Chisholm Cattle Trail, (1867-87), Red River Station was a main crossing and last place on trail to buy supplies until Abilene, Kan.--350 miles north. During the cattle drive era of Western history, millions of animals swam the turbulent river here en route to Kansas railhead and markets. An abrupt bend in the river checked its flow at this point, creating a natural crossing which had been used for years by buffalo and Indians. Even so, the water was wide, swift, and sometimes clogged with sand bars. Frequently cattle were so jammed cowboys could walk across on their backs. Besides a cattle crossing, the station was an outpost of the frontier regiment, which patrolled Texas' northernmost border during Confederacy (1861-65). During cattle era, a town began here, its ferry serving drovers, soldiers, freighters, and settlers returning from Indian captivity. Local cemetery (1 mi. SE) contains many graves of these Texas pioneers. (1971)

Red River Station

Marker Title: Red River Station
Address: US 82, 6 mi. W of Nocona
City: Nocona
Year Marker Erected: 1963
Marker Location: On US 82 6 miles west of Nocona.
Marker Text: Established 9 miles northwest 1861 as Civil War outpost near major buffalo and Indian crossing. Local soldiers, determined to guard edge of settlement against Indian raids, Union invasion from Indian territory, joined by Texas Frontier Regiment Cavalry Company. Families of settlers, cattlemen built log cabins within post stockade. Poorly fed, clothed and short on horses and ammunition Confederates patrolled area effectively. Comanche, Kiowa raid at Illinois Bend 15 miles east Jan. 1863. Major cattle crossing after war. A memorial to Texans who served in the Confederacy - Erected by the State of Texas 1963; (BACK OF RED RIVER STATION) Texas Civil War Frontier Defense 1861-1865 Texas made an all-out effort for the Confederacy after voting over 3 to 1 for secession. 90,000 troops, noted for mobility and and heroic daring, fought on every battlefront. An important source of supply and gateway to foreign trade thru Mexico, Texas was the storehouse of the south. Red River Station and other posts on this line were backed by patrols of state Rangers, organized militia, and citizens posses scouting from nearby "family forts." This was part of a 2000 mile frontier and coastline successfully defended by Texans. (1963) More

Town of Saint Jo

Marker Title: Town of Saint Jo
Address: FM 677, in city park
City: Saint Jo
Year Marker Erected: 1972
Marker Location: FM 677 at city park, Saint Jo.
Marker Text: One of oldest towns in Montague County. Founded in 1850s, during great California Gold Rush, by E.S. and Ithane Singletary (Brothers) and John Hughes, who hoped to find gold here. The community they started became known as "Head of Elm" for its location at headwaters of Elm Fork of Trinity River. In 1858 Head of Elm ran--and lost--race for county seat. A post office opened here (at site of marker) in 1859, with John Womble, another pioneer, as postmaster. An early store and saloon were owned by Dominick Burns. Next spurt of growth for town came with locating of Chisholm Cattle Trail through here about 1868. In 1871 village had a post office, blacksmith shop, and five stores. In 1872 I.H. Boggess (owner of the famous Stonewall Saloon) and Joe Howell bought 640 acres of land and laid out townsite, which Boggess named "Joe", for Howell. One story says he decided to add "Saint" because Joe was a staunch non-drinker; another version claims he added it to make the name longer. In 1874 citizens built an all-faiths church and in 1876 a newspaper was established. Saint Jo was organized as a town in 1880; incorporated in 1886. Population has remained about 1,000 since that time and economy is still based on farming and ranching. (1972)

Spanish Fort

Marker Title: Spanish Fort
Address: FM 103, 17 mi. W of Nocona
City: Spanish Fort
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: From Nocona take FM 103 about 17 miles to Spanish fort. Marker is on square across from old store.
Marker Text: The Commission allocated $1,500 for the monument erected near the site of the original fort. The shaft of Texas red granite rises eight feet above its triple-stepped base. The plaque, designed by Raoul Josset, symbolizes the Taovayas Indian and relates the early history of the region. The memorial was designed by Page & Southerland, architects. The town of Spanish Fort. Occupies the Site of an Ancient Taovayas Indian Village. Scene of first severe defeat in Texas of Spanish troops by Indians in 1859. Named Fort Teodoro in 1778 by De Mezieres in honor of Teodoro De Croix, Commander of the Interior Provinces of Mexico. Permanent white settlements began in this vicinity after 1850. "Let the grandeur of the pioneer be discerned in the safety he has secured, in the good he has accomplished, in the civilization he has established." (1936)

Site of the 1759 Taovayo Victory Over Spain

Marker Title: Site of the 1759 Taovayo Victory Over Spain
Address: FM 103, town square
City: Saint Jo
Year Marker Erected: 1976
Marker Location: From Nocona take FM 103 about 17 miles to Spanish Fort Marker is located next to large granite monument in center of town.
Marker Text: Col. Diego Ortiz Parilla, a commandant of Presidio San Saba (near the later site of Menard) had grave Indian problems in 1759. Priests and others were killed in Comanche attacks on Mission San Saba. Comanches and their friends were allied to Frenchmen, who were trading deep in Spanish domain. Parilla wished to whip the Comanches and expel the French. With 380 soldiers and Indian support to a total of 600 men, he left San Antonio in August. A victory over some Tonkawas on the Brazos as he marched north gave him false confidence. When he arrived at this site in October, he saw Red River forming a moat around a fort. His Apaches tried in vain to span the river and invade the fortified Taovaya village. He saw 14 or more Frenchmen; a French flag was flying. Indians played drum and fife and had plenty of guns and ammunition. He bombarded the fort with cannons, but after losing 52 men in a 4-hour battle he was glad that nightfall gave him a chance to withdraw. He was pursued for many days as he retreated to Presidio San Saba, which he reached on Oct. 25, 1759. The Taovaya Indians were later known as Wichitas, and continued to resist white men until the 1870s. (1976)

Experience of Giles Gordon

    During 1867, several Indians charged Giles Gordon, who lived in Montague County, and who was out a short distance from home, looking for cows. After being wounded two or three times, the savages attempted to pull him from his horse, but he made his steed brush next to a tree on the side where the Indian was holding, and this caused the savage to release his grip. Before Giles was again overtaken, his father, Alvin Gordon, and one other, hurried to his relief. The Indian then turned and went away.

    Note: Author personally interviewed W.A. Morris and Joe Bryant.

Spencer Mueller and Son, Ira

    During 1863, Spencer Mueller and son, Ira, were splitting rails for Lewis Davis, in the southern part of Montague County. Approximately twenty-five Indians had been raiding in that section. And as they moved northward, killed Spencer Mueller and his oldest son. John Wainscott and others helped to bring in their bodies, which were laid to rest in the Denver Graveyard.

Son of Charlie C. Guinn

    About 1861 Indians charged two sons of Charley C. Guinn, while traveling along about three or four miles from home, and about fourteen miles northeast of Montague. The older son successful escaped, but the Indians captured the younger, who was about fourteen or fifteen years of age.

The above story is from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.

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