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 Forts Trail Region

Map of Young County Historic Sites
Markers (click on a topic to jump to that section.)
Brazos Indian Reservation School | Brazos River Indian Reservation | Brooks Home, Lewis Pinkney | Butterfield Overland Stages | Camp Belknap, C.S.A. | Carlton-Johnson-Proffitt Grave | Common Grave | Site of Cottonwood Spring | Old Donnell Mill | Fort Belknap | Old Fort Belknap Powder Magazine | Harmonson Ranch | Indian Raid on Elm Creek, C.S.A. | Johnson, Brit | Little Salt Creek Indian Fight | Markley Cemetery Decoration Day | Medlan Home, A.B. | Military Road (Ft. Belknap-Ft. Phantom Hill) | Military Road (Ft. Belknap-Ft. Worth) | Military Road (Ft. Belknap-San Antonio) | Neighbors, Major Robert S. | Proffitt Cemetery | Tonk Valley Community | Tonkawa Scouts, C.S.A. | Warren Wagon Train Massacre | Young County Jail | Young, Colonel William C.
Uncommemorated and Unmapped Sites
Young County Raid October 1864 | David White and Britt Johnson | Dillard Brothers | Millie Durgan | Frank Taylor | Sherman Receives Conclusive Information | Cottonwood Springs | Fort Belknap to Brit Johnson | Graham/Fort Belknap | Brit Johnson | Skidmore, Elijah | Warren Wagon Train Massacre Trip
Uncommemorated Active Battle Map (Stories below are on map.)
Henry Eberson and John O. Allen | Lindy Harmison, Cole and Will Duncan | John Heath | Dozier, James B. | Conrad Newhous and Martinas | Citizens Encounter Indians Near Flat Top in Young Co. | James K.P. Wright | Lone Wolf's Revenge Raid | African Brit Johnson, Dennis Cureton and Paint Crawford | Indians Attack the Warren Train | Johnson, Proffitt and Carrollton | Peveler Ranch Encounters | Night Fight at the Lost Valley Pen | Jesse Stem | W.H. Steadham and Matt Brogdon Fight | L.P. Brooks and Others Fight in Young County | Captain Ira Long and Men Fight in Jack County | John Crow | Frank Myers | William Holden | Tackett Fight | Graham
Brazos Indian Reservation School

Marker Title: Brazos Indian Reservation School
Address: FM 2179, North of Graham
City: Graham
Year Marker Erected: 1972
Marker Location: from Graham, take FM 2179 about 2 mi east.
Marker Text: Operated for Indian children living on Brazos Reservation, a 37,000-acre refuge created by state in 1854. Here over 1,000 Anadarko, Caddo, Delaware, Ioni, Shawnee, Tawakoni, and Tonkawa people lived, farming and acting as U.S. Army Scouts. Despite racial strife outside reserve, teacher Z.E. Coombes (1833-95) reported unusual good will and harmony in classroom. Subjects taught were English, spelling, writing, and arithmetic. From 34 to 60 students were enrolled. School closed when Indians were moved north in 1859.

Brazos River Indian Reservation

Marker Title: Brazos River Indian Reservation
Address: Shawnee Park, SH 16
City: Graham
Year Marker Erected: 1970
Marker Location: SH 16, Graham; In Shawnee Park.
Marker Text: In February 1854 the Texas Legislature designated 12 Spanish leagues (or 53,136 acres) of land to be maintained as Indian Reservations by the Federal government. In August 1854, Major Robert S. Neighbors, United States supervising Indian agent, and Captain Randolph B. Marcy, of the United States Army, made surveys in both Spanish and American measurements; American dimensions were platted, totaling 69,120 acres. In the 8-league tract here in Young County--on either side of the Brazos River --were placed tribes of Anadarko, Caddo, Tehuacana, Tonkawa, Waco and others, together with splinter groups of the Cherokees, Choctaws, Delawares, Shawnees and some other remnants. The southern Comanches had their 4-league reservation about 45 miles to the west. Under the guidance of United States agents, the Indians of the Brazos River Reservation made much progress in agriculture, stock raising and other arts of civilization. Drouth and other adversities, however, led to closing of the reservations. Emptied in 1859 when the Indians were removed to vicinity of present Anadarko, Oklahoma, lands of the reservation reverted to the state, and were opened to the pre-emption of Texas citizens in 1873.

Lewis Pinkney Brooks Home

Marker Title: Lewis Pinkney Brooks Home
Address: Pinkney Brooks Road
City: Graham
Year Marker Erected: 1965
Marker Location: From Graham, take Hwy. 209 west about 8 mi (Loc. near old McCambridge) to Local road (Pinkey Brooks Rd), Follow one mi. to house.
Marker Text: Home of Lewis Pinkney Brooks, Civil War veteran. He rode mule, Georgia, to Texas, 1866. Stone for 1875 home quarried on place. (Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 1965.)

Butterfield Overland Stages

Marker Title: Butterfield Overland Stages
Address: SH 251 South of Newcastle
City: Newcastle
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: Ft. Belknap, SH 251, about 3 mi. south of Newcastle. Marker Text: The Butterfield Overland Stages connecting St. Louis and San Francisco with semi-weekly service, 1858-1861, traversed this county, with a station at Fort Belknap.

Camp Belknap, C.S.A.

Marker Title: Camp Belknap, C.S.A.
Address: SH 251 South of Newcastle
City: Newcastle
Year Marker Erected: 1963
Marker Location: Fort Belknap, SH 251, about 3 mi. south of Newcastle.
Marker Text: Confederate frontier post Camp Belknap located this vicinity. Local soldiers, determined to guard edge of settlement against Indian raids, Union invasion from Indian Territory, joined frontier regiment of Texas Cavalry and Rangers. Chain of posts from Red River to Rio Grande patrolled. Regiment concentrated vicinity this camp, spring 1863. Fought Comanche attack near Elm Creek 1864. Constantly looking for marauders, short on food supplies and ammunition, these Confederates effectively protected setters and supply trains. (Erected by the State of Texas 1963.)

Carlton-Johnson-Proffitt Grave

Marker Title: Carlton-Johnson-Proffitt Grave
Address: US 380, West of Newcastle
City: Newcastle
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: US 380, 8 mi west of Newcastle, Roadside Area.
Marker Text: In memory of Patrick Euell Proffitt, Rice Carlton, and Rueben Johnson, three 19 year old boys killed in one of the Elm Creek Indian raids, July 17, 1867.

Common Grave

Marker Title: Common Grave
Address: US 380 West of Newcastle
City: Newcastle
Year Marker Erected: 1966
Marker Location: US 380, 8 mi. W. of Newcastle; In Proffitt Cemetery.
Marker Text: Three youths slain by Indians in an Elm Creek raid, July 17, 1867: Rice Carlton, Age 19; Reuben Johnson, born 1847, son of J. Allen Johnson; Patrick Euell Proffitt, born March 7, 1848, son of Robert S. Proffitt. John Proffitt, a brother, was donor of cemetery tract.

Site of Cottonwood Spring

Marker Title: Site of Cottonwood Spring
Address: SH 114, SE of Olney
City: Olney
Year Marker Erected: 1974
Marker Location: From Olney, take SH 114 Southeast about 9 miles.
Marker Text: 19th century oasis around a lone cottonwood tree and a good spring. Wagon ruts from heavy traffic attracted here are still visible on hill to the southwest. In 1849, Capt. Randolph B. Marcy, U.S. Army camped with his soldiers at this spring as they mapped a gold-seekers' road to California. Capt. Marcy was to return as escort (1851) for Col. W. F. Belknap, en route to establish Fort Belknap (15 miles southwest), and with Maj. Robert S. Neighbors (1854), exploring for Indian reservation sites. Maj. Enoch Steen of the 2nd U.S. Dragoons was here in 1855, platting a route to Fort Riley, Kan. The Leach wagon train camped here in 1857 while opening the Butterfield Overland Mail route, along the Preston Road to Red River. Riding to the north of Red River to fight wild Comanche raiders, two expeditions camped here in 1858: Capt. John S. ("Rip") Ford with Rangers, in April; Maj. Earl Van Dorn with U.S. Cavalry in the fall. Maj. Neighbors in August 1859, escorting Texas Indians to reservations in present Oklahoma, found the spring dry. Water returned, however. Cattlemen used the spring for generations, until in mid-20th century, the water table dropped permanently and the cottonwood died. (1974)

Old Donnell Mill

Marker Title: Old Donnell Mill
Address: FM 1974, SW of South Bend
City: Eliasville
Year Marker Erected: 1965
Marker Location: From South Bend, take FM 1974 southwest about 7 mi.
Marker Text: After heartbreaking failures, James D. Donnell; his wife, Julia; and sons, Will and Tom, finished the dam and mill here in 1876. The mill withstood floods and began turning out meal and flour for a vast region. It operated almost half a century. The Donnells had migrated from Missouri to Texas, and Young County. Their mill yard was the community gathering place. Crossing river here was San Antonio to Austin to Fort Belknap Military Road of 1850s, used by famed 2nd U.S. Cavalry, under Albert S. Johnston and Robert E. Lee. Also nearby was site of 1850s community of Clear Fork, settled by George, William, and Jonathan Lee Dobbs, Rev. Pleasant Tackitt, and others. Indian marauders drove away most settlers. But in 1876 J.L Dobbs returned to claim his land. Also in 1876 Elias De Long opened a store that became the post office. (To his name the Post Office Department added "ville", titling the place Eliasville.) In 1893 a bridge was built here; the present bridge in 1957. Among other settlers were Captain Joseph Benedict and wife Adele, granddaughter of the colonizer W.S. Peters. Their son, Harry Yandell Benedict, became 10th president of the University of Texas. A successor in that office, Homer Price Rainey, also grew up here.

Fort Belknap

Marker Title: Fort Belknap
Address: SH 251, S of Newcastle
City: Newcastle
Marker Location: SH 251, from Newcastle, about 3 mi south.
Marker Text:--

Old Fort Belknap Powder Magazine

Marker Title: Old Fort Belknap Powder Magazine
Address: SH 251, S of Newcastle
City: Newcastle
Year Marker Erected: 1962
Marker Location: From Newcastle, take SH 251 south about 3 mi to Ft. Belknap.
Marker Text: Best preserved of the original structures at Fort Belknap. The Fort, named for its builder, Brig. Gen. W.G. Belknap (1794-1851), was one of the frontier posts placed by the Federal government along a line from the Red River to the Rio Grande to guard settlers from Indians, soon after Texas joined the Union. This was one of 9 stone and 7 picket houses on the site by 1853. Restored by the State of Texas in 1936. (Recorded Texas Historic Landmark-1962.)

Harmonson Ranch

Marker Title: Harmonson Ranch
Address: US 380, E of Newcastle
City: Newcastle
Year Marker Erected: 1982
Marker Location: From Newcastle, take US 380 about 5 miles east.
Marker Text: Kentucky native Peter Harmonson (1797-1865) came to Texas in 1845 as a settler in the Peters Colony. The following year he helped form Denton County, where he served as the first sheriff. In 1854 he brought his family here and established a ranch near this site known as Harmonson Rancho. An organizer of Young County, he served as its first chief justice. He died from a wound received in an Indian raid on the Elm Creek community. In 1869, after it was sold, his ranch site and his son Z.J. "Jack" Harmonson figured in a skirmish between Indians and local cattlemen.

Indian Raid on Elm Creek, C.S.A.

Marker Title: Indian Raid on Elm Creek, C.S.A
Address: US 380, W of Newcastle
City: Newcastle
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: From Newcastle, take US 380 West about 8 mi.
Marker Text: Indian troubles continually plagued the Texas frontier in the Civil War, with great loss in lives and property. One of the most serious raids occurred near here on Oct. 13, 1864, at Fitzpatrick Ranch. Comanches killed seven ranch people and five Confederate soldiers. Six women and children were kidnapped. 10,000 cattle were stolen. Brit Johnson, African slave who that day lost his whole family, later "joined" the Comanches, got their confidence, and freed his people . Later Indians punished him with mutilation and death.

Britt Johnson

Marker Title: Britt Johnson
Address: FM 1769, 6 mi. NW of Graham
City: Graham
Year Marker Erected: 1972
Marker Location: From Graham, take US 380 5 mi NW to FM 1769, then about 1 mi north.
Marker Text: (1823-1871) Cowboy, Indian scout, orderly at Fort Belknap in 1850s, who lost a son (Jim) as one of 12 persons killed in Elm Creek Indian raid, Oct. 12, 1864. His wife Mary and children, Jube and Cherry, were among 6 persons captured. Johnson traced his family and by stealth took them from Indian Territory. But the Indians took vengeance. On Jan. 24, 1871, Johnson's camp near here was attacked by Kiowas. Over 100 empty rifle shells at the site showed how valiantly he and companions Dennis Cureton and Paint Crawford fought before being killed and scalped. They were buried by U.S. cavalrymen. (1972)

Little Salt Creek Indian Fight

Marker Title: Little Salt Creek Indian Fight
Address: SH 114, SE of Olney
City: Olney
Year Marker Erected: 1971
Marker Location: From Olney, take SH 114 about 6 mi SE.
Marker Text: Duel between a cattle roundup crew and Indians, on May 16, 1869. Cowboys attacked at their work were Shapley Carter, Bill Crow, and Henry Harrison, all of Palo Pinto County; crew captain Ira E. Graves, J.W. Gray, W.C. Kutch, and Jason McClain, of Jack County; George and John Lemley and Rube Seachrist, Young County; Dick, the cook from Tarrant County. All day the crew held at bay 57 Comanches, who left that night. Nine cowboys were wounded--Carter, Crow, and John Lemley died. Texans never forgot the unprovoked attack.

Markley Cemetery Decoration Day

Marker Title: Markley Cemetery Decoration Day
Address: SH 16, 20 Mile N of Graham
City: Graham
Year Marker Erected: 1975
Marker Location: From Graham, follow SH16 north about 20 mi to roadside graveyard.
Marker Text: Cemetery was begun in 1881, with interment of M.C. Norfleet, adjacent to the old Plum Grove School. By 1890, the burial ground had fallen to neglect. A group of men from the surrounding rural community, including J. C. Calvin, J.W. Cox, R.E. Currie, S.G. Dean, Nelson Owen, M.A. Stewart, Andy and Ike Tinney, J.M. Wallace, and W.M. Watson, organized an annual "Graveyard Working Day", to be held on the first Saturday in May. In the early years, people came by wagon and horseback, some camping overnight. After the cleaning work had been completed bouquets of wildflowers were replaced on the graves. About 1900, the settlement was named "Markley", in honor of A.C. Markley, an area landowner who had served in the frontier army during the Indian wars. In 1925, the observation was changed to the first Sunday in May. Although a perpetual care program has been initiated, decoration ceremonies have persisted as an annual social event, preserving a heritage of community cohesiveness and participation. Among the grave decorated each year are those of thirteen Confederate veterans of the Civil War: John F. Bussey, J.C. Butler, Jessie Byrd, R.E. Currie, George J. Lucas, J.D. Mankins, J.L. McDaniel, J.L. Norfleet, Nelson Owen, J.C. Stanley, James Stinnett, Cates Thompson, and David White.

A.B. Medlan Home

Marker Title: A.B. Medlan Home
Address: SH 67 & County Road, SW of Graham
City: Graham
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: Take SH 67 south about 5 miles then left on county road about 5 mi. (Private, no Access).
Marker Text: Built of brick made on this farm, settled 1855 by A.B. Medlan, Texas Ranger, Church leader and builder, treasurer and commissioner of Young County. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 1964

Military Road (Ft. Belknap-Ft. Phantom Hill)

Marker Title: Military Road (Ft. Belknap-Ft. Phantom Hill)
Address: SH 251, S of Newcaslte
City: Newcastle
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: Fort Belknap Grounds, 3 mi S. of Newcastle on SH 251.
Marker Text: Past this point extended a military road surveyed in 1849 by Colonel J.E. Johnson who was detailed by the U.S. War Department to locate the most feasible route from Red River to El Paso. From 1851 to 1854 it connected two frontier forts, Belknap and Phantom Hill, 73 miles apart. Traveled 1858 to 1861 by stages of the Butterfield line which connected St. Louis and San Francisco.

Military Road (Ft. Belknap-Ft. Worth)

Marker Title: Military Road (Ft. Belknap-Ft. Worth)
Address: SH 251, S of Newcastle
City: Newcastle
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: Fort Belknap; 3 mi S. of Newcastle on SH 251.
Marker Text: Past this point extended in 1851 a military road connecting Fort Belknap and Fort Worth. Over it passed troops, travelers, and supplies for the frontier posts.

Military Road (Ft. Belknap-San Antonio)

Marker Title: Military Road (Ft. Belknap-San Antonio)
Address: SH 251, S of Newcastle
City: Newcastle
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: From Newscastle, take SH 251 3 mi south to Ft. Belknap.
Marker Text: Past this point extended a Military Road connecting Fort Belknap and San Antonio. Blazed in 1851 by Lieutenant Francis T. Bryan of the U.S. Army. Traveled by troops, supply trains and frontier settlers.

Major Robert S. Neighbors

Marker Title: Major Robert S. Neighbors
Address: SH 251, S of Newcastle
City: Newcastle
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: From Newcastle, take SH 251 South 3 mi to Fort Belknap.
Marker Text: As Indian agent, forceful peacemaker and humanist, Maj. Neighbors had more influence over Texas' Indians than any other man of his era; came to Texas in 1836. He served as quartermaster in Texas army, 1839-41. While on Texas Ranger duty in San Antonio, 1842, he was taken as a prisoner of war to Mexico by Gen. Adrian Woll and spent 18 months in Perote Prison. Began his service to the Indians in 1845. As agent for Lipan-Apache and Tonkawa tribes, he used field system of control, visiting Indian homes, learning a red man's way of life, improving living condition, helping them to trade. He ably defended their rights, was counselor and friend, and sought new homes for them, never faltering in commitment to their safety. As a Texas commissioner in 1850 he organized El Paso County; he was also a state representative, 1851-1852, and a presidential elector in 1852. Major Neighbors later became the supervising agent for all of the Indians in Texas. Frontier civilians and soldiers failed to support his Indian policies. Many became hostile. On Sept. 14, 1859, he was murdered near here by a white man as he was returning after safely removing all reservation Indians from Texas. He was buried in Belknap Cemetery (1/2 mile E. of Town).

Proffitt Cemetery

Marker Title: Proffitt Cemetery
Address: US 380, W of Newcastle
City: Newcastle
Year Marker Erected: 1990
Marker Location: From Newcastle, take US 380 about 8 mi west to Roadside Cemetery.
Marker Text: Members of the Robert Smith Proffitt family came to this area about 1862 and established homes. A son, John Proffitt (1846-1925), amassed large land-holdings and built a gin and other businesses. The developing community was named Proffitt. At its height it boasted homes, a post office, school, retail businesses, a Methodist church, and Baptist church. On July 17, 1867, three young men were killed in an Indian raid near this site. They were buried in a common grave on John Proffitt's land about one mile south of town. Theirs was the first burial in the community graveyard which became know as the Proffitt Cemetery. The cemetery contains both marked and unmarked graves of area pioneers. The numerous interments of infants and children illustrate the often harsh conditions of frontier life. The largest number of burials occurred in the years between 1910 and 1920, and include many victims of the World War I-era influenza epidemic. Also buried here are veterans of the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Maintained by a cemetery association, this historic graveyard stands as memorial to Young County pioneers.

Tonk Valley Community

Marker Title: The Tonk Valley Community
Address: SH 67, S of Graham
City: Graham
Year Marker Erected: 1972
Marker Location: From Graham, take SH 67 about 5 mi south.
Marker Text: Earliest known attempt at permanent settlement in this valley was made in 1851 by Elijah Skidmore, who was killed after a few months on the frontier. Locality takes its historic name from the Tonkawa nation, known in its own language as "The most human of people". In 1855 the Tonkawa were placed in this valley on reservation provided by an act of the Texas Legislature; but in 1859 the tribe was removed to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). After the Civil War ended in 1865 and especially after the Indian reserve was opened to settlers in 1873, pioneers established livestock farms here. Their children went to school in log cabin with dirt floor and homemade split log benches. Schoolmistress Addie McNabb accepted as salary a gray plow pony and a small amount of cash. In 1877 Baptists organized a church with the Rev. G.W. Black as pastor; also in 1877 Methodists founded Monk's Chapel, with Rev. B.H. Johnson as pastor. The first building strictly for church use was erected 1909. School consolidation (1922) enlarged community and (1948) saw local children transported into Graham. Community life is centered in the churches.

Tonkawa Scouts, C.S.A.

Marker Title: Tonkawa Scouts, C.S.A
Address: SH 251, S of Newcastle
City: Newcastle
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: From Newcastle, take SH 251 South about 3 mi to Ft. Belknap.
Marker Text: By the time of the Civil War, 1861-65, Texans knew the horrors of Indian warfare. Hostile tribes made a business of stealing horses, cattle, women and children. The paths they followed in the "bright Comanche moons" were marked by fires and ruin. The Tonkawa tribe, by contrast, sought friendship with Texans. They became valued allies in the Civil War, scouting against hostile Indians and watching for signs of Federal invasion. Old Texas Indian fighters, who once had fought Tonkawas along with others, in wartime asked for Tonkawa scouts. Along the frontier defense line from Red River to the Rio Grande, commanders valued them so much they fed them at personal expense when necessary, to obtain their help. A few Tonkawa scouts were more useful than two or three companies of regular soldiers. They could stalk enemies better than bloodhounds. They paid for their Confederate loyalty. On Oct. 25, 1862, near present Anadarko, Okla., hostile Indians attacked the Tonkawa camp, killing 137 men, women and children out of 300. When later their Chief Castile requested a tribal home in Texas, they were located at Fort Griffin, where they remained until 1884, and then were removed to Oklahoma. More

Warren Wagon Train Massacre

Marker Title: Warren Wagon Train Massacre
Address: SH 16, NE of Graham
City: Graham
Year Marker Erected: 1977
Marker Location: From Graham, take SH 16 about 8 mi NE.
Marker Text: On Salt Creek Prairie (1.5 mi. W), On May 18,1871, Kiowas and Comanches from the Fort Sill Reservation, in present Oklahoma, attacked a train of 12 wagons owned by Capt. Henry Warren, contractor of supplies for U.S. forts in this frontier region. Seven teamsters were killed. The chiefs who led the raid were soon arrested, and Satank committed suicide. In a nationally spotlighted trial at Jacksboro, Satanta spoke with great eloquence on behalf of his people. Texas' Governor, E.J. Davis, later commuted the death sentences given by the court.

Young County Jail

Marker Title: The Young County Jail
Address: 612 4th St.
City: Graham
Year Marker Erected: 1976
Marker Location: 612 Fourth Street, Graham.
Marker Text: (1878-1921) This jail was built with two stories in 1878. The jailer lived downstairs, and above were two cells--one with a steel cage for maximum security. There were many dramatic jailbreaks, with lives lost on both sides of the law. In 1881, killer Jack Post, the only man legally hanged in this county, rode from the jail astride his coffin. The five Marlow brothers broke out in 1888, causing a major shootout and manhunt. The property was phased out as a jail in 1921, and saw many changes in use and appearance before being bought by Kelley B. King in 1975.

Colonel William C. Young

Marker Title: Colonel William C. Young
Address: SH 251, S of Newcastle
City: Newcastle
Year Marker Erected: 1963
Marker Location: SH 251 3 mi. South of Newcastle, Fort Belknap.
Marker Text: (1812-1862) Tennessee lawyer, U.S. Marshall, frontier Texas Ranger, Annexation Convention member 1845, colonel Mexican War. During Civil War, raised and commanded 11th Texas Cavalry. Secured safety of northern Texas through capture of Forts Cobb, Washita and Arbuckle and negotiations with Comanches, Kiowas and Chickasaws. Fought Battle Chustenalah. Murdered in Red River cane "brakes" by renegades for testimony in Gainesville hanging. (Erected by the State of Texas 1963.)

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