Texian Stomping Grounds Page: 1
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ON THE JEFFERSON ROAD
By Frank Bryan
All roads led to Jefferson in the early days. It was the head
of navigation on Caddo Lake and was the only steamboat land-
ing in the Piney Woods of East Texas. It reached its prime
as a trading center during the so-called "Reconstruction Days,"
that clouded era between the end of the Civil War and the com-
ing of the railroads. During this era Jefferson was the largest
cotton export city in all of Texas, and the principal port of
entry for Northern capital, speculators, reformers, Republican
Party organizers, plain crooks and budding young Western des-
peradoes. All of these "Newcomers," as they were known to
the natives of the Piney Woods, were lumped into one general
This so-called Reconstruction era has been generally recorded
in history as a dark and stormy period; "tragic" is the word some
apply. Historians are notoriously short of humor. The early
natives--both black and white-of East Texas were not. It takes
spice to make a pudding remembered with a smacking of hungry
lips. The visiting Carpetbaggers gave spice to life in the Piney
Woods during the time when the men of the Woods traveled
the Jefferson Road.
It has been said that certain of the natives of the Piney Woods
could smell a live Carpetbagger five miles away; and that when
they smelled one, their bristles would begin to rise like those of
any good dog passing within five miles of the Dogfight Crossing
To understand Dogfight Crossing on Tanyard is to under-
stand the Jefferson Road; for the Jefferson Road was largely a
meeting place. Along this road white men met, Negroes met,
horses, dogs and mules met, and gathered together. Friends met
friends; strangers met strangers; and if there chanced to be
differences, these were settled on the spot, whether among men
or dogs. Each individual covered only the ground he stood on,
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Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964. Texian Stomping Grounds, book, 1941; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc67663/m1/9/: accessed July 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.