The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 49, July 1945 - April, 1946

Cihe house of Harr ald Zaeyport
J. VILLASANA HAGGARD
T HE HOUSE of Barr and Davenport, with headquarters in
Nacogdoches, was from 1798 until 1812 the chief agency
of Spanish trade in East Texas and in the Neutral Ground
area--that long and narrow strip of land lying between
Louisiana and Texas, whose ownership was disputed for fifteen
years by Spain and the United States. This commercial house
freighted merchandise from Louisiana to Texas and transported
peltries, furs, and livestock back to Louisiana. In the interval
between the establishment of the Neutral Ground in November,
1806, by an agreement between General James Wilkinson,
commander of United States troops, and Lieutenant Colonel
Sim6n de Herrera, commander of Spanish troops, to its dissolu-
tion by the proclamation of the Adams-Onis treaty on
February 22, 1821, much diplomatic activity was carried on
between the United States and Spain in an attempt to fix a
definite boundary between the two countries. While diplomatic
negotiation was in progress, settlers moved into the disputed
area; and traders, filibusters, and fugitive slaves used the
Neutral Ground as a bridge leading to Texas.
The Neutral Ground was created as a compromise between
the widely divergent views of Spain and the United States with
regard to the western boundary of Louisiana. The differing
claims had arisen through the several transfers of Louisiana
between Spain and France and its purchase by the United
States without there ever being a definite delineation of
boundaries. The readiest method of reaching a compromise
suggested to both contestants was a strip of neutral territory
to lie between them for a number of years pending a satisfac-
tory settlement. The Neutral Ground agreement was of such
an informal nature that no definite boundaries were assigned
to the disputed territory. The sole stipulation, so far as is
known, was that the Sabine River on the west and Arroyo
Hondo on the east should be the boundaries beyond which
neither Spanish nor American troops should pass. But the
arroyo was a short and winding stream running west of
Natchitoches and southeast into a swamp. Notwithstanding its

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 49, July 1945 - April, 1946. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146056/. Accessed September 20, 2014.