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 Wise County Historical Sites
Markers (click on a topic to jump to that section.)
Audubon | Aurora Cemetery | Battle of the Knobs | Bledsoe, George Lawton | Cattle Trail Crossing | Chisholm Trail | Deep Creek Community | East Mount Cemetery and School | El Castile (Old Waggoner Home) | Evetts, Samuel G. | Flat Rock Cemetery | Fortenberry, A.H. | Gose Trees | Huff Family Massacre | Indian Captives Dot and Bianca Babb | Old Campsite of Jesse and Frank James | Long, Texas Ranger Captain Ira | Matthews, Dr. M.W. | Ramsdale, George Lafayette | Renshaw, Dr. William | Siddons-Barnes Log Cabin | Stevens, Captain George | Texas Tourist Camp Complex | Toll Bridge & Old Bridgeport | Vesey, Randolph | Vesey, Randolph (Uncle Ran) | Waggoner Cemetery | Wise County Reunion | Wise County, C.S.A. | Woody's Cabin, Sam
Uncommemorated and Unmapped Sites
Chandler's Wise County Expedition | James Morrow's Brother
Uncommemorated Active Battle Map (Stories below are on map.)
Keep Ranch Fight | Big Raid Through Wise, Denton and Montague Counties | Murder of Mrs. Huff and Her Daughters | Capture of James and William Ball | Indians Attack the Russell Ranch | Johnson Miller | Babb Family | Killing of Long | Capture of Bud Davis | Miss Sallie Bowman | Press (Milt) Perkins | Indian Raid Near the Present Town of Rhome (Alonzo Dill, Jake Moffett and Others) | John Montgomery

Marker Title: Audubon
Address: N of intersection of CR 2585 and 2675
City: Alvord
Year Marker Erected: 1970
Marker Location: From Alvord, take CR 2585 about 5 miles northeast, turn north on CR 2675 and continue about .25 mile to marker.
Marker Text: A vanished town which was important in this area in the 19th century. It was settled by southerners and named for naturalist John J. Audubon (1785-1851). Earliest settler, D.D. Shirey, platted town out of his farm land in 1865. He and his wife, "Aunt Polly", expanded their log house into a stagecoach inn that grew famous for a lavish table. Their excellent food was set out on a lazy Susan, which was the wonder of the countryside. In the late 1860s and following decades, trail crews detoured from the cattle trail that ran to the east of here and bought supplies in the town. Audubon had a post office from June 25, 1874, to July 20, 1904. Local social and fraternal bodies included Woodmen of the World and a Masonic Lodge active from 1879 to 1886. There were three churches, a school, a telephone office, two cotton gins, several mercantile stores, several lawyers and physicians, and two blacksmiths. The noted Dr. W.B. Palmer, had a beautiful country home, "Gynndome". Bypassed by the Fort Worth & Denver Railroad in 1883, Audubon gradually declined. Post office closed in 1904; school consolidated with Alvord in 1930. Among outstanding native sons was the Reverend M. M. Barnett of the California Baptist Foundation.

Aurora Cemetery

Marker Title: Aurora Cemetery
Address: FM 114, S. of Aurora
City: Aurora
Year Marker Erected: 1976
Marker Location: Aurora Cemetery, on Cemetery Road about .5 mile south of FM 114 in Aurora.
Marker Text: The oldest known graves here, dating from as early as the 1860's, are those of the Randall and Rowlett families. Finis Dudley Beauchamp (1825-1893), a Confederate veteran from Mississippi, donated the 3-acre site to the newly formed Aurora Lodge No. 479, A.F. & A.M., in 1877. For many years, this community burial ground was known as Masonic Cemetery. Beauchamp, his wife Caroline (1829-1915), and others in their family are buried here. An epidemic which struck the village in 1891 added hundreds of graves to the plot. Called "spotted fever" by the settlers, the disease is now though to have been a form of meningitis. Located in Aurora Cemetery is the gravestone of the infant Nellie Burris (1891-1893) with its often-quoted epitaph: "As I was so soon done, I don't know why I was begun." This site is also well known because of the legend that a spaceship crashed nearby in 1897 and the pilot, killed in the crash, was buried here. Struck by epidemic and crop failure and bypassed by the railroad, the original town of Aurora almost disappeared, but the cemetery remains in use with over 800 graves. Veterans of the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts are interred here.

Indian Captives Dot and Bianca Babb

Marker Title: Indian Captives Dot and Bianca Babb
Address: FM 1810, E of Chico
City: Chico
Year Marker Erected: 1971
Marker Location: From Chico, take FM 1810 about 2 miles east to marker.
Marker Text: Two of Texas history's best-known Indian captives, 13-year-old T. A. "Dot" Babb (1852-1936) and his 9-year-old sister Bianca (1855?-1950) were stolen by Comanches from their home near here in September of 1865. While at play one day, the children were surprised by a raiding party of 35 to 40 Indians. Mrs. Babb was killed and Dot, Bianca, and Mrs. Luster (a visitor) were taken to Indian Territory (present Oklahoma). After helping Mrs. Luster escape on the way, Dot was very nearly executed, but so stoic was he in facing death that the Indians admiringly spared his life. For the next two years Dot and Bianca lived, in different tribes, as adopted Comanches. Bianca later recalled that the Indians held a feast - with coffee, a luxury - upon her arrival and that they colored her blonde hair with charcoal and buffalo tallow. Dot, after a winter as the female tribespersons' flunky, asserted his male rights and thereafter spent his time taming horses. He was taken on raids against other tribes and showed signs of becoming a fine warrior. After two years, the children's father ransomed them and a joyful reunion occurred. Both Dot and Bianca spoke with sympathy, however, of many Indian customs and of kind treatment during captivity.

Battle of the Knobs

Marker Title: Battle of the Knobs
Address: Old Decatur Rd., N of Decatur
City: Decatur
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: From Decatur, head north on FM 730, turn left onto Old Decatur Road and continue about 2 miles to marker.
Marker Text: On November 10, 1837, a company of eighteen Republic of Texas soldiers led by Lt. A.B. Benthuysen engaged in a battle with approximately 150 Indians near this site. Ten Texas soldiers were killed in the battle, and the Indian casualties were estimated at fifty. The Texans killed were Alexander Bostwick, Jesse Blair, James Christian, Joseph Cooper, J. Josslin, A.H. Miles, William Nicholson, Wesley Nicholson, William Sanders, and Lewis F. Sheuster. The geologic feature known as the Knobs serves as a memorial to the soldiers who were left on the battlefield. More of the story

George Lawton Bledsoe

Marker Title: George Lawton Bledsoe
Address: Beauchamp Drive
City: Aurora
Year Marker Erected: 1986
Marker Location: Aurora Cemetery, at southern part of cemetery on Beauchamp Drive. Cemetery road about .5 mile south of FM 114 -Aurora.
Marker Text: Georgia native George Lawton Bledsoe (b. 1805), a carpenter and cotton gin builder, came to Texas in 1834. A veteran of the Texas Revolution and the Battle of San Jacinto, he received a pension for his military service and patented land grants in Brazoria, Cooke, Jack, Fannin, and Wise counties. He was married to the former Ellen Bowdre (d. 1850) and had five children. Bledsoe is buried here along with his daughter Georgia and a brother-in-law, Preston E. Bowdre. Ellen Bledsoe and the couple's other four children are buried in Fannin County, probably in Bledsoe Cemetery near Dial.

Cattle Trail Crossing

Marker Title: Cattle Trail Crossing
Address: US 380, E of Decatur
City: Decatur
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: From Decatur take US 380 about 10 miles east to Denton/Wise County line; marker on south side of the highway.
Marker Text: Near this site ran one of the many "feeder" branches of the famous Chisholm Trail, best-known of all the cattle trails that once linked the vast grasslands of Texas with the meat-hungry markets of the north. The original trail, which stretched from the North Canadian to the Arkansas River, was blazed in 1865 by Jesse Chisholm, a half-Scottish and half-Cherokee trader. The 220-mile route, soon taken up by drovers, was extended north and south. Branches all the way from the Rio Grande gradually snaked up to join the main trail at the Red River. Although unpredictable Texas weather and hostile Indians sometimes prevented the drovers from keeping to the main route, certain points were fixed. One of these was the Trinity River ford at Fort Worth, just south of here, where cattle might have to wait for weeks to cross if the river had recently flooded. In 1895, the fenced range, railroad, and quarantines against the fever tick had reduced to a trickle the flood of cattle leaving Texas on the hoof; but by this time, the trail had helped restore the economy of Texas (wrecked by the Civil War) and it had left a legacy in folksong and legend of cowboy days on the untamed Texas frontier.

Chisholm Trail

Marker Title: Chisholm Trail
Address: Courthouse Square
City: Decatur
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: Southeast corner of Courthouse Square.
Marker Text: Application for historical marker enclosed

Deep Creek Community

Marker Title: Deep Creek Community
Address: CR 4227, N of Aurora
City: Boyd
Year Marker Erected: 1970
Marker Location: From Aurora, take Old Decatur-Aurora Road (CR 4227) about 4 miles north; cemetery is on dirt road just west of CR 4227.
Marker Text: Named for the natural landmark nearby. Settled about 1854 by pioneers Sam Woody and Tom McCarroll. Population grew as they were joined by several of Woody's former neighbors from East Texas. Along the creek, farmers raised cotton, corn, and cattle. In 1860 Tom McCright and Andrew Mann gave land for a cemetery, and local Baptists constructed a church, which doubled as a schoolhouse. Testimony to danger of frontier life is the grave of Miss Sally Bowman, who died in 1868. She was shot after a wild chase by Indians who surprised her as she tended her father's herd of fine horses. At her grave is a monument erected by the neighborhood. Other early settlers interred here include many veterans of the Civil War, 1861-1865. The community is noted as the boyhood home of Lawrence (J.L.) Ward, respected resident of Decatur Baptist College during 1900-1907 and 1910-1950. In the 20th-century, a nationally known ballet -"Winter at Deep Creek" -has recaptured the flavor of pioneer days. Produced by the American Folk Ballet, the dance was originated and choreographed by Burch Mann, a great-granddaughter of John Mann, one of the first settlers in the community.

East Mount Cemetery and School

Marker Title: East Mount Cemetery and School
Address: Off CR 3519, S of Bridgeport
City: Bridgeport
Year Marker Erected: 1974
Marker Location: From Bridgeport, take FM 2123 about 4 miles south, turn west onto CR 3519 (road will turn south, west, then north again); continue north onto unnumbered road to cemetery.
Marker Text: This community was named for the lookout point used by Indians and settlers in the 19th century. From his land near the landmark mound, W.C. Ellis designated (1876) acreage for public use, and the cemetery had been opened by 1880. Van Dearing Perrine (1869-1955), later a noted artist, lived here about 1880. His mother's unmarked grave is in this cemetery. On March 15, 1887, W.C. Ellis and T.J. Wise deeded 3 acres for the school, in which enrollment would rise at times to nearly 100 pupils in eight grades taught by one teacher. In 1930 the school was consolidated with Bridgeport.

El Castile (Old Waggoner Home)

Marker Title: El Castile (Old Waggoner Home)
Address: 1000 E. Main St.
City: Decatur
Year Marker Erected: 1963
Marker Location: 1000 E. Main St.
Marker Text:--

Samuel G. Evetts

Marker Title: Samuel G. Evetts
Address: FM 2210
City: Willow Point
Year Marker Erected: 1988
Marker Location: From Bridgeport, take FM 920 south to Balsora, then FM 2210 about 6.25 miles to Willow Point Cemetery; grave and marker in southwest corner.
Marker Text: A native of Tennessee, Samuel G. Evetts came to Texas in the 1830s. In December 1835 he was wounded at the Siege of Bexar. He later lived in Austin and Coryell counties and received land grants in those counties as well as in the counties of Washington, Williamson, and Wise. In 1870 he was granted a pension from the State of Texas for his Republic of Texas military service. By 1880 Evetts had moved to Wise County, where he died in 1884 at the age of 74. His name has also been spelled Evitts over the years. Thrice married, he was the father of eleven.

Flat Rock Cemetery

Marker Title: Flat Rock Cemetery
Address: Old Decatur Highway
City: Decatur
Year Marker Erected: 1972
Marker Location: From Decatur, take FM 720 to Old Decatur Highway, about 7.2 miles to cemetery.
Marker Text: Settled in 1850s by Moses Ball and other pioneers. Tradition says first burial here was an Indian; the second, a small girl who died while her family was migrating through the area. Oldest tombstones are dated 1878. There are many unmarked graves. Community, named for some flat stones that formed a landmark, had a Cumberland Presbyterian Church as early as 1883. Burial ground near church was deeded from his land grant on August 28, 1890, by ex-Texas Ranger George W. Stevens (1831-93) for cemetery. After 1914, population dwindled and the church was closed.

A.H. Fortenberry

Marker Title: A.H. Fortenberry
Address: FM 51
City: Slidell
Year Marker Erected: 1977
Marker Location: From Decatur, take FM 51 about 15.5 miles northeast to marker on Denton/Wise County line.
Marker Text: In the 1850s, A.H. ("Sevier") Fortenberry and his second wife Jane (Odell) moved from Arkansas to the wilderness then existing in this section of Texas. Living as a farmer and stock raiser, Fortenberry joined neighbors in warding off Indian raids which endangered the settlements. On October 30, 1868, at a site 3/4 of a mile northwest of this marker, he was intercepted and killed by Indians while trying to join a defensive posse. He was buried in the Pollard Cemetery, Denton County. It is thought that he was the last fatality in the Indian Wars in this vicinity. (1977)

Gose Trees

Marker Title: Gose Trees
Address: 402 W. Walnut
City: Decatur
Year Marker Erected: 1973
Marker Location: 402 W. Walnut -Decatur.
Marker Text: Remnant of bois d'arc hedge which encircled the log cabin of Stephen M. Gose (1824-77), early justice of the peace, blacksmith, and leader of Methodist church, who came to Texas from Missouri in 1859. The spiny trees, planted 1861, served as a barrier against prowling Indians.

Huff Family Massacre

Marker Title: Huff Family Massacre
Address: Pine Street, E of Alvord
City: Alvord
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: From Alvord, take Pine Street (Old Decatur Road) about 2 miles east.
Marker Text: An atrocity of 1874, in one of last Wise County Indian raids. While C.W. Huff and son worked in remote part of land recently settled by the family, Indians killed Mrs. Huff and daughters, Palestine and Molly. Neighbors buried the scalped and mutilated victims in a wagon bed, in the grave. It is said that lumber was later obtained for coffins and the victims were reburied. In 1879 land around plot was given for cemetery by C.W. Huff.

Old Campsite of Jesse and Frank James

Marker Title: Old Campsite of Jesse and Frank James
Address: US 380, E of Decatur
City: Decatur
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: From Decatur, take US 380 east about 5 miles.
Marker Text: Famous western frontier outlaws, who had many Texas hideouts along a line from the Rio Grande to the Red River. The camps - extending into Missouri, their home state - were used for hiding stolen horses until posses could be thrown off the trail. The campsites were sometimes known to scattered settlers, who feared or befriended the bandits.

Picture of Belle Starr and Blue Duck
Belle Starr and Blue Duck

Also, friendly with the James brothers (and also operating sometimes in Texas) were fellow Missouri outlaws, Cole Younger and "Bandit Queen" Belle Starr. This was an era of widespread lawlessness in Texas. Billy the Kid roamed into West Texas. The Daltons, John Wesley Hardin, Cullen Baker, Bill Longley, Sam Bass and many others found it easy to kill and rob and then hid in wild areas where they were beyond the reach of local officers, and food was plentiful. After reconstruction ended in 1874, Texas Rangers were reorganized, to restore respect for the law. Given special powers, in 1889-90 they arrested 579 wanted men (including 76 alleged murders). Jesse James and some other notorious badmen by then were dead. Frank, reformed, worked as a salesman in Dallas, Paris, and other Texas towns.

Texas Ranger Captain Ira Long

Marker Title: Texas Ranger Captain Ira Long
Address: CR 4226, S of Decatur
City: Decatur
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: From Decatur, take US 81/287 south about 3 miles to CR 4227 south about .5 mile, turn west onto CR 4226, and drive about .5 mile to cemetery -grave is at center of cemetery.
Marker Text: Dedicated and courageous. Born in Indiana; reared in Missouri. Wounded twice in Confederate service during the Civil War. On reorganization of Texas Rangers, 1874, was commissioned first lieutenant; promoted 1875 to captain, Company A, official escort of Major John B. Jones, Commander of Ranger Force. Did outstanding duty against Indians and outlaws, and in quieting such feuds as Mason County War. Served for six years.

Dr. M.W. Matthews

Marker Title: Dr. M.W. Matthews
Address: CR 3352
City: Paradise
Year Marker Erected: 1971
Marker Location: Southwest corner of Paradise Cemetery, just west of Paradise on CR 3352.
Marker Text: Pioneer physician and preacher. Born in Kentucky. As army surgeon in Texas Revolution (1836), treated General Sam Houston at Battle of San Jacinto. Served in the 1st and 7th Congresses of the Republic. Took part in Mexican War (1846). A firm Unionist during the Civil War (1861-65), he once barely escaped hanging at hands of southern vigilantes. Founded many churches across state. Was married twice; first to Sarah Gehagan and later to Margaret Spencer.

George Lafayette Ramsdale

Marker Title: George Lafayette Ramsdale
Address: CR 3352
City: Paradise
Year Marker Erected: 1985
Marker Location: Paradise Cemetery (just west of Paradise on CR 3352).
Marker Text: George Lafayette Ramsdale (1820-1884) was a native of Devonshire, England. By 1836, he had come to Texas and enlisted in the army during the war for independence from Mexico. After the Revolution, Ramsdale, his wife, Elizabeth (1825-1909), and their children lived in Harrison, Rusk, Houston, and Bosque counties. During the Civil War, he served the Confederacy by protecting the frontier. The family moved to Wise County in 1866, where he farmed and operated a tannery. His military service, adventuresome spirit, and community leadership are significant examples of the state's pioneer heritage. (1985)

Dr. William Renshaw

Marker Title: Dr. William Renshaw
Address: US 380, E. of Decatur
City: Decatur
Year Marker Erected: 1977
Marker Location: From Decatur, take US 380 east about 5 miles.
Marker Text: Born in Illinois, William Renshaw studied medicine and set up practice in Sparta, Tennessee. His wife Sarah received from the Mexican government a grant of land in Texas, where her father Samuel Worthington lost his life in a colonization attempt in 1828. Dr. Renshaw traveled to Texas in 1853 to locate this headright, which encompassed many acres of Wise County north of this marker site. Dr. Renshaw returned to Sparta and served two terms in the Tennessee Legislature before moving his family to Texas in 1859. The first doctor to settle permanently in Wise County, Dr. Renshaw was often away from home for long periods, with a practice extending from Denton to Jacksboro. The Renshaw's organized one of the county's earliest schools, taught by J.D. White, for their own and neighbor children. After the Civil War, the family moved to Decatur, where Dr. Renshaw and his son Lute opened a drugstore. They were devout Baptists and supported Decatur Baptist College. Dr. Renshaw died in 1887 and was buried at Oak Lawn Cemetery in Decatur. As his 10 children married, each received a portion of the Worthington survey. Two family members still own part of the property. A number of descendants became doctors. (1977)

Siddons-Barnes Log Cabin

Marker Title: Siddons-Barnes Log Cabin
Address: Main St.
City: Chico
Year Marker Erected: 1997
Marker Location: First block east of city square, Chico.
Marker Text: This log cabin, believed to have been built in the early 1870s, was the first place of worship for area Methodists and served as a schoolhouse. Dr. J.A. Siddons and his wife M.E. Siddons purchased the cabin in 1883 and enclosed it with other rooms. In 1918 J.D. Barnes and Rachel Perkins Barnes bought the property. The rooms surrounding the original log cabin were removed in the 1970s. It was moved to this site in 1987, and the fireplace stones were restored. The cabin features half-notched rough hewn oak logs, an interior loft, and measures 256 square feet. (1997)

Captain George Stevens

Marker Title: Captain George Stevens
Address: FM 720
City: Flat Rock
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: From Decatur, take FM 720 to Old Decatur Highway about 7.2 miles to Flat Rock (Cowen) Cemetery; marker and grave in northwest corner of cemetery.
Marker Text: Born in Alabama. Came to Wise County in 1855. Well known as champion of the defenseless. Active in resisting Indian attacks on pioneers. Member and guiding officer in numerous home guard units. Served as sheriff in 1860s, 1870s. (1968)

Texas Tourist Camp Complex

Marker Title: Texas Tourist Camp Complex
Address: US 81/87 - 900 Block
City: Decatur
Year Marker Erected: 1995
Marker Location: 900-904 US 81/87 south -Decatur.
Marker Text: Local businessman E.F. Boydston (1888-1945) purchased this site, a former feed lot, in 1927 for $400. Recognizing a potential business opportunity in offering services to the traveling public, he built a wooden shed and gas station in 1927. Travelers were allowed to build campfires during overnight stays, and by 1931 Boydston added three wooden cabins with garages to the camp complex. The buildings later were faced with rock, and more cabins and garages were added in 1935. The original wooden gas station was covered with petrified wood in 1935 when the highway was widened and remained in operation by the Boydston family until 1988. The Texas Lunchroom, a one-room frame building, was built in 1929. Renamed the Texas Cafe in 1935 and faced with stone to match other buildings in the complex, it was enlarged to provide second-floor living quarters. Popular with local high school and college students, as well as families and the traveling public, it was closed in the 1960s after a highway bypass built west of town diverted traffic from this area. The cafe reopened in 1993. One of the few intact examples of tourist camps built throughout Texas in the mid-20th century, this property is significant for its association with the early development of automobile tourism.

Toll Bridge & Old Bridgeport

Marker Title: Toll Bridge & Old Bridgeport
Address: FM 920 and Trinity River Bridge
City: Bridgeport
Year Marker Erected: 1972
Marker Location: FM 920 and Trinity River Bridge, just west of Bridgeport.
Marker Text: When Butterfield Overland Mail traversed this area (1858-61) on St. Louis to San Francisco route, a crossing over West Fork of the Trinity was a necessity. Colonel W.H. Hunt on February 11, 1860, obtained a charter and built a toll bridge here (50 yards west). The Overland Mail ceased operating as Civil War began. The bridge soon collapsed. However, a settlement had begun here, and in 1873 Charles Cates, a Decatur merchant, spanned the river with an iron bridge. When the Rock Island Railroad built to this point in 1893, town moved but retained historic name. (1972)

Randolph Vesey

Marker Title: Randolph Vesey
Address: State Street, at Courthouse
City: Decatur
Year Marker Erected: 1965
Marker Location: east side of Courthouse Square.
Marker Text: Respected African citizen and homeowner. Champion pioneer fiddler, popular at Forts Belknap, Griffin and Richardson and over county. Once when he was an Indian captive, held in Kansas, Texans sent ponies to ransom him. He is buried in Oak Lawn, Decatur. Born in Georgia. He served during the Civil War as body servant and voluntary battle aide to General W.L. Cabel of the Confederate army. Vesey's courage and loyalty were typical. Hundreds of slaves went to war with masters. Many operated farms and ranches of soldiers away at war, producing cotton and food for the Confederacy. Others did work for hire, with wages supporting the master's family. On patrol duty they protected homes from Indians, bandits, outlaws. During War years, 1861-1865, some 30,000 to 50,000 Africans - free and slaves - aided Confederate armies. They served with the Nitre and Mining Bureau and departments of medicine, engineers, quartermaster general, ordnance and commissary general. They built fortifications on coasts from Brownsville, Texas, to Norfolk, Virginia, and at inland points. Many were army teamsters, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, butchers, shoemakers, cooks, and nurses. Texas and other states later provided land grants and pensions for army. (1965)

Randolph (Uncle Ran) Vesey

Marker Title: Randolph (Uncle Ran) Vesey
Address: Cemetery Road
City: Decatur
Year Marker Erected: 1979
Marker Location: Oak Lawn Cemetery, Cemetery Road -North Decatur; enter at main gate, turn left at first paved road; drive past gazebo, marker on left near telephone pole.
Marker Text: Born a slave near Savannah, Georgia, Randolph Vesey was body servant to Confederate General William Lewis Cabel during the Civil War. In 1868, while living on the Montague-Wise County line, Vesey was captured by Indians and taken to Kansas. Black scout Brit Johnson ransomed Vesey with horses contributed by friends in Texas. A natural musician, Vesey often played the violin at dances in this area. He married Missouri (Zoe) Light and had two children. Recorded 1979.

Waggoner Cemetery

Marker Title: Waggoner Cemetery
Address: CR 2360, N. of Decatur
City: Decatur
Year Marker Erected: 1995
Marker Location: From Decatur, take FM 730 3 miles north, turn west onto CR 2360, about 1 mile to marker.
Marker Text: Georgia native the Reverend Henry Fullingim, his wife Martha, and their 17 children came to northeast Texas in 1849. Henry Fullingim served the area as a circuit-riding Methodist minister. Their son, Archibald, and their son-in-law, John Hale, came to Wise County in 1853 and were among the area's first settlers. Hale became the first Wise County sheriff in 1856. This cemetery is named for John T. and Sarah Waggoner, on whose land it was established. Martha Fullingim's burial in 1868 is the first recorded here. The Waggoner's deeded the property to Wise County in 1885.

Wise County Reunion

Marker Title: Wise County Reunion
Address: SH 51
City: Decatur
Year Marker Erected: 1976
Marker Location: SH 51, south side of Decatur at Reunion Grounds entrance.
Marker Text: The Confederate veterans of Wise County are said to have held occasional reunions in the 1860s-1870s. Old settlers invited both the Confederate veterans and Wise County pioneers to an 1881 reunion at Cold Springs. This was on July 12, the anniversary of Captain George Stevens' victory over hostile Indians in 1874. About 5,000 people attended the 1881 reunion. The "Wise County Messenger" reported a successful day -"only the music being a failure". Events included speeches and picnicking. The reunion began to occupy the present site in 1896. By 1900 it extended to three days - honoring old settlers on the first, the veterans on the second, and daughters and sons of Confederates on the third. Sometimes 12,000 would attend, parading from courthouse to camp ground. Programs included candidates' speeches, rodeos, and sham battles. Evenings were devoted to visiting. In 1909, the grounds were leased for 25 years. Later, campsites were leased and improved by participants. The Wise County Old Settlers Association, formed in 1904, sponsored a 1907 Pioneer History by C.D. Cates. Extended to a week, with visiting in daytime and stated events in the evenings, this reunion is now the oldest recurring public event in the county. (1976)

Wise County, C.S.A.

Marker Title: Wise County, C.S.A.
Address: Main Street
City: Decatur
Year Marker Erected: 1963
Marker Location: South side of Courthouse Square, Decatur.
Marker Text: County named for Henry A. Wise, U.S. Senator from Virginia who supported Texas annexation, later Governor and C.S.A. general. Wise County was part of District One of 33 brigade districts of Texas established to recruit men for Confederate and state service in 1861. The headquarters at Decatur became a military post with an arsenal of supplies set up in the Old Howell and Allen Store. Although the county voted against secession, men joined a military company so early that neither state nor Confederacy had any plans to take over the troops. During the war four more companies were raised. These men served on the Texas frontier and in fighting to the east. With almost all the male population drawn into service, Decatur became a refugee camp where settlers stayed for protection from Indians. In 1862 a "Peace Party Plot" aimed at revolt against the Texas Confederate government was discovered. Fifty persons were brought to trial in the arsenal. Five were found guilty and hanged. In 1863 Decatur was headquarters for 1st District of state militia. This was the second line of defense for the frontier which backed up the line of old U.S. posts located 105 miles to the west. 70 miles west were the frontier regiment outposts from the Red River to the Rio Grande. These militiamen served to protect this part of the frontier yet were able to work their farms. Late in the war, deserters came through the county. In April 1865, men from Wise and Cooke counties captured nearly 100 on their way to New Mexico. Erected by the State of Texas 1963.

Sam Woody's Cabin

Marker Title: Sam Woody's Cabin
Address: CR 4227, South of Decatur
City: Decatur
Year Marker Erected: 1970
Marker Location: From Decatur, take US 81/87 about 3 miles south to CR 4227; follow 4227 about 5 miles south to marker at cabin.
Marker Text: Tennessee pioneer Sam Woody (1826-1920) migrated to Texas in the 1840s. He brought his family to Wise County in 1854. This cabin, located near Deep Creek, was the first dwelling in the area. After Woody cut the logs, friends and relatives helped him erect the cabin in one day. Indians came here to trade buffalo robes and moccasins for corn. The house was frequently crowded with guests, for frontier travelers were never turned away. Woody guarded pioneer settlements as part of a Ranger unit and served in the Confederate army during the Civil War (1861-1865). Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 1970.

Johnson Miller

    Johnson Miller, an expert workman in wood, Bob Sensibaugh, and Mr. Browder, were working in the bottoms of the West Fork of the Trinity. Mrs. Hardwick, of Decatur, had died, and Johnson had been called to the latter place for the purpose of making a coffin. When returning to his camp, March 24, 1866, he was killed by Indians, within one mile of his destination. The savages scalped their victim and hung his clothes in nearby tree.

James Morrow's Brother

    Along about the time the three fights mentioned in three of the preceding sections transpired, a brother of James Morrow came out from Missouri to spend a few weeks on the frontier. One night while he was out a short distance from the home of his brother, an Indian shot an arrow into his shoulder.

    Ref: Same as preceding section.

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

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