Grayson County; an illustrated history of Grayson County, Texas. Page: 4
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were used in making the furniture. Sophia described her
first home at Preston Bend as follows: "The first quilt
I had in Grayson County, I picked the cotton out with
my fingers and I quilted it. I then made me a rag carpet
and put it on the puncheon floor. A goods box nailed
up to the house for my wardrobe-and on viewing
my quilt, carpet and wardrobe, I was the happiest woman
Yet Sophia's life was much easier than that of most
pioneer women, made so by the possession of slaves.
The boy named Lewis bought at Fort Smith may have
been the first. From that purchase forward, Sophia added
to the number of slaves that worked her plantation
until slavery was abolished. She is said to have worked
her slaves hard. In view of this, it is remarkable that no
record remains of runaway slaves or insubordination on
her place. She was a capable manager and a commanding
figure, and her slaves may well have admired her
as well as feared her. She owned at one time perhaps
more than thirty Negroes.
Sophia's life was made interesting, moreover, by
the presence of neighbors. Although by her own statement
Old Warren was the nearest inhabited place at the
time of her coming to Preston Bend, Judge James G.
Thompson bought land from Holland Coffee in 1842
and built his home there soon after. Soldiers from Fort
Washita, built in 1842-3, furnished Sophia with all the
company she could desire.
JAMES G. THOMPSON HOME-This is a rear view of the
house after it had been reconstructed at Pawpaw Hill. Shingles
are a modem addition to prevent rotting of the logs as the result
of sweating due to the use of concrete for "chinking." This is the
oldest existing building in Grayson County. It housed the first
Preston Bend became a popular place for crossing
the Red River; and Coffee's stockade and trading post
being one of the best known places in North Texas,
Sophia saw many travelers. Sophia liked to talk of these
in later years, and many legends have grown up of the
famous men whom she entertained. But she did not
have a good memory for names. Although the list of
guests which she compiled for herself contained the
names of many outstanding historical figures, she was
probably conscious of no intention to deceive. People
whom she actually entertained were other early settlers
such as the Montagues, the Throckmortons, John Neely
Bryan, Col. Jim Bourland, and such military officers
as Marcy, McClelland, Arbuckle, and other army personnel
who from time to time passed through the area.
The Indian troubles of 1839 had been discouraging
to most of the North Texas settlers; and many, including
Holland Coffee, were considering withdrawing
from the country. But complaints to the government
brought the attention of the military department of
the Republic. 1840 saw the construction near presentday
Pottsboro of temporary Fort Johnson by Col. William
G. Cooke, and Fort Preston by Lt. William Preston,
from whom Preston Bend received its name.
These were not forts in the usual sense, but stations
for storing supplies. From such forts companies of
rangers, organized from the settlers of the area, would
set out to intimidate the Indians by retaliatory raids.
Fort Preston consisted of two buildings. These were
constructed of brick in order to make them less vulnerable
to destruction by fire, and the bricks were fired
in a kiln on the Coffee place by the Coffee slaves.
The tradition of hospitality at Coffee's Station is
strong and the picture of a jovial Holland Coffee friendly
to all settlers is attractive; but sober fact declares
he was a quarrelsome man. There is indication that at
one time he broke his partnership with Colville and
divided the Preston Bend property. At another time he
was sued by Charles Jackson over the matter of a promissory
note. There was also the trouble with John
Hart which ended in murder and the suit brought by
Martin D. Hart. No suggestion of popularity is conveyed
by an incident that happened in August of 1842.
The Northern Standard (Clarksville) reports that
while at Dagley's Landing Col. Coffee was fired
upon by assassins from ambush. The ball did not take
effect even though it passed through both breasts of
Coffee's coat and pierced the sleeve at the shoulder.
It was not even suggested by the editor, DeMorse, who
knew Coffee well enough, that the attack might have
been made by Indians.
The death of Silas Colville in 1844, however, as
he went from Preston to Old Warren was attributed
to Indians. But in spite of Colville's murder, it was
deemed safe to live at Preston Bend without benefit
of stockade. Accordingly the house which came to be
called Glen Eden was built in 1845-6 at a distance of
about 150 yards from "Coffee's Fort." The new building
was a two-story double log house with central dog
trot and a brick ell containing kitchen and dining
room. The typical galleries in the front and back considerably
contributed to the comfort of the place at
most seasons of the year. Massive white chimneys at
either end of the house and English ivy impressed
themselves on the minds of many who were familiar
with the place.
Legend tells us that Holland Coffee exercised a
pacific influence on the Indians. Sophia liked to recall
his efforts to ransom captive whites. Although documentation
is scarce, the historical marker erected by
the state at Preston Cemetery perpetuates the tradition
and Wilbarger records the instance of a Mrs. Crawford.
This woman, daughter of James Goacher, was taken by
the Indians of central Texas from her home near Bastrop.
Coffee arranged for the release of Mrs. Crawford
and two children in return for 400 yards of calico, a
number of blankets, some beads, and other merchandise,
all of which he furnished at his own expense.
Coffee is reputed to have known seven Indian dialects,
an acquirement that certainly would have prepared
him for negotiation around the council fire. On at
least two occasions we know that Coffee served officially
as translator and advisor to agents whose business
it was to strike agreements with assorted tribes. The
first of these instances occurred on August 24, 1842,
probably at Cash Creek, described as ninety miles west
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Landrum, Graham. Grayson County; an illustrated history of Grayson County, Texas., book, 1960; Fort Worth, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24647/m1/8/?q=durst: accessed March 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .