Bosque County: Land and People (A History of Bosque County, Texas) Page: 5
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white man's whiskey) and petty larceny,
posed no problem. The terrible raids along
the Texas frontier came from the Comanches
(whom John Graves in his Goodbye to a
River, calls simply "the People") and their
allies, the Kiowa and Southern Cheyenne.
They were the so-called "wild Indians" of the
West. And, in defense of the central Texas
Indians, it should be pointed out again that
they always took the side of their American
friends in the terrible atrocities of the era
from 1850 to 1875.
The American Approach to the
The main traveled road to the junction of
the Bosque and Brazos rivers began far to the
southeast, as a frontiersman would have
defined far, in the lands on both sides of the
Brazos in what was known in the late days of
Mexican-Texas history as the Sterling C.
Robertson Colony, and, later, as Milam
County. As fate would decree, it was there
that the first American pioneers moved from
their earlier homes in Arkansas and northeast
Texas to settle along the Brazos at such
present ghost towns of Sarahville de Viesca,
Nashville-on-the Brazos, and Port Sullivan.
Sarahville de Viesca was so far beyond the
early settlements north and west of the Old
San Antonio Road as to be of little signifi-
cance in the advance of the frontier, except,
it may be added that it was the forerunner of
present Marlin, Texas. Old Nashville, or
Nashville-on-the-Brazos is a different story
and should be looked at more.
In recording the dawn of settlement in
early Milam County, Katherine Bradford
Henderson has written:
Just when Nashville was started we do not
know. Calvin Boales, with the Tandys and
William Smith, arrived in Texas in 1834. On
their way they met Jerry and John Bailey.
And about the same time came the Powers
and McCanliss families. When they arrived
at Nashville only two settlers had preceded
them. One of these was James McLaughlin.
Doctor Robert Davidson and his family lived
there in 1834, and the McLennans remained
there for awhile in 1835. . . . The town was
regularly laid off by General Thomas J.
Chambers in the fall of 1835.
The town founded by the families of
McLaughlin, Davidson, Boales, and others
was "situated on the southwest bank of the
Brazos River. . . . Nashville was on a beauti-
ful prairie plateau, slightly undulating, ex-
tending to the river bluff. In the background
were small belts of timber, with mottes of
post oak and live oak in the open. Less than
a mile to the south a large timber region set
in, extending to the northeast of Williamson
County near Thorndale. To the west the
heavy timber borderling Little River was
visible." North of the village of Nashville the
wide valley of the Brazos stretched unbroken
beyond the Little Brazos near present
Hearne. In the early years of Milam County
the Brazos bottom was "covered with a thick
growth of heavy timber and dense under-
wood." On the southeast "the prairie exten-
ded a mile or so down the river, and in that
direction was a wet-weather branch flowing
into the river. Near its east bank was the
Nashville-on-the-Brazos consisted of "an
aggregation of small log and board houses
erected near the river bluff. Some of the log
dwellings were double pens, without a hall
between"; others were of the single-pen type
of either hewn or unhewn logs. The Brown
residence, probably a typical Nashville home,
"was built of hewn cedar logs, one room 16
x 18 feet and about 9 feet high, plain chimmey
at the west end, covered with oak boards
about three feet long, showing 18 inches and
held in place by weight poles. There were two
small unhewn log houses close by-one for
the smokehouse, the other for the corn crib."
The field "enclosing some 8 or 10 acres" was
south of the house.
These crude log cabins of Nashville provid-
ed home and hearth for approximately
seventy-five frontier families who lived in the
community during the middle and late
1830's. Among these pioneers of a new
frontier, Frank T. Brown (whose quoted
descriptions filled much of previous par-
agraphs) remembered Thomas C. Thomson,
Sterling C. Robertson, E.S.C. Robertson,
Alexander Thomson, James G. Swisher, O.T.
Tyler, Laughlin McLennan, George B. Erath,
Captain Eastland, Ethan Stroud, Captain
John Bird, James Robinett, W.S. Wilson,
Moses Griffen, W.B. King, Benjamin Bryant,
Joseph Rowland, R.M. Coleman, Thomas H.
Barron, Daniel Cullins, David Clarke, James
Coryell, Stephen Frazier, Moses Cummings,
Frank W. Johnson, Mrs. Matilda Connell,
James Graves, William Moore, Lewis Wash-
ington, Isaac parker, Daniel Moses, Massillon
Farley, N.C. Raymond, Frank T. Duffeau,
John Cockrell, Henry Kattenhorn, E. Law-
rence Stickney, Daniel McKay, Gus Sullivan,
W.H. King, John R. Craddock, M.M. Hubby,
John C. Pool, William and Thomas Roberts,
John Taylor, George Green, Lewis Moore,
Jacob Groos, Henry Eichelberger, and Albert
In his History of Bell County, George W.
Tyler included the above names on his list of
Nashville residents and adds the following:
Lige Bailey, James Bell, Gid Bowen, Calvin
Bowles, John D. Brown, George W.
Chapman, Herman Chapman, Goulsby Chil-
ders, Isaac Crouch, Robert Fieury, Jacob M.
Harrell, Jack Hopson, James Howlett, Neil
McLennan, John McLennan, James Shaw,
William Thomson, John Chalmers, John H.
Connell, Aaron Cullins, and Daniel Parker.
Both Brown and Tyler readily admit that it
was an impossibility to remember or locate
all of the frontiersmen that stopped for
awhile at Nashville during this early period.
It is significant, however, that many of the
Nashville residents listed above were only
temporary citizens of the community. Many,
after remaining near Nashville for varying
lengths of time, moved on to blaze new
frontiers in Bell, McLennan, Coryell, and
In the meantime Viesca had been all but
abandoned. Established in 1834 as the head-
quarters for Robertson's land office, this
amall village was the residence of William H.
Steele, who issued land titles to the settlers,
and Moses Cummings, the "principal and
scientific surveyor." Here, too, were kept the
maps, field notes, proofs of immigration, and
other archives of the colony. In 1835 Z.N.
Morrell found "one family and forty prospec-
tors from Tennessee" living at the Viesca
settlement. On December 26, 1835, the name
was changed from Viesca to Milam. Port
Sullivan, located on another bluff above the
Brazos, was founded as an agrarian commu-
nity by Augustus W. Sullivan and John C.
Pool between 1835 and 1839. River naviga-
tion extended to this point on the Brazos
during the years of the Republic of Texas.
The First Texas Rangers
In the fall of 1836 a battalion of rangers was
raised in Milam County with Captain Thom-
as H. Barron as commander; Barron was
assisted by Lieutenants Charles Curtis, Da-
vid W. Campbell, and George B. Erath.
Hardin Nevill, William Neale, Lee R. Davis,
and James McLaughlin served as sergeants;
the thirty-six privates of the company includ-
ed James Coryell, Daniel and Aaron Cullins,
Anson Darniel, and Claiborne Neal. Follow-
ing the 1838 election of Mirabeau B. Lamar
as President of the Republic of Texas,
warfare intensified all along the Texas fron-
tier. Lamar had neither experience with nor
sympathy for the Indian. He believed in their
total destruction or total expulsion from
Texas as a matter of policy. And this policy
was applied with vigor along the Brazos as the
instances cited below suggest.
It was as an aspect of the general pattern
of aggressiveness under Lamar that two years
after the organization of the first company of
rangers, a second ranger company was
formed in Milam County in early 1839; this
group was commanded by Captain George B.
Erath. His staff officers included Richard
Ellis, Neil McLennan, William F. Thompson,
and James Shaw. The muster roll of the
enlisted men of the company listed (among
others) the names of Calvin Boales, John
Beals, Daniel Cullins, Anson Darniel, John
Hobson, L.B. Ham, Lewis Moore, Henry
Kattenhorn, John C. Pool, I. Standefer, and
John Teal. All of these men were veterans of
many years on the Texas frontier.
The Texan Santa Fe Expedition
While the Milam County frontiersmen
were pushing north along the Brazos, the
Texan Santa Fe Expedition crossed the
Bosque terrotory in 1841 en route from
Brushy Creek near Austin to Santa Fe, New
Mexico. The hardships of travel through the
central Texas region are described by George
Wilkins Kendall in his Narrative of the
Texan Santa Fe Expedition. According to
the Kendall account, the members of the
expedition saw their first antelope between
the South and Middle Bosque rivers, forded
the main Bosque with some difficulty near
the present Eichleburger Crossing in McLen-
nan County, and entered the confines of
Bosque County proper a considerable dis-
tance east of Valley Mills at a point "between
Willow Creek, a tributary of Childers Creek,
and the cedar brakes of the Brazos." Follow-
ing the level grasslands across the prairies of
eastern Bosque County, the expedition cros-
sed the headwaters of Coon Creek and
continued northward to cross Cedron Creek,
Steele Creek about "six miles east of the
present town of Morgan," and departed from
the Bosque territory by way of the Powelldale
Mountains and Kimball Bend.
Two years before the rugged pioneers of
the Santa Fe Expedition crossed the Bosque
and Brazos rivers Captain George B. Erath
led a small group of surveyors and rangers
into the area. George B. Erath, looking back
on a distinguished career as both Indian
fighter and surveyor, recorded the role of the
surveyor-who with the aid of Jacob staff,
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Bosque County History Book Committee. Bosque County: Land and People (A History of Bosque County, Texas), book, 1985; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth91038/m1/21/?q=campbell: accessed August 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Denton Public Library.