Bosque County: Land and People (A History of Bosque County, Texas) Page: 63
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COLONY OF KENT
Solomon's Nose near site of Colony of Kent. Later
called Robinson's Bluff.
On September 3, 1850, 30 families sailed
from Liverpool, England, for Galveston,
Texas. October 21, a second ship containing
more colonists sailed. Both of these groups of
people were part of the Universal Emigration
and Colonization Company of London.
George Gatlin, a famous American artist,
lawyer, and student of Indian culture, was to
lead the party to lands on Cowhouse Creek
in Coryell County, which the group's mem-
bers had never seen, but which they were
calling "New Britain." For unknown reasons,
Gatlin did not continue leadership and
Lieutenant Charles Finch Mackenzie became
leader of the Kent Colony and was in charge
of the government, while Sir Edward Belcher
was in charge of seeing that the colonists were
properly settled in the new country.
Upon his arrival in Galveston, Belcher
contacted Jacob DeCordova, a famous Texas
land agent, and was prepared to meet Colonel
James Reily, who was to sell them the land
on Cowhouse Creek. When Reily had not
made an appearance after several days,
Belcher and DeCordova went to the land site,
leaving the company of colonists at Galves-
ton. Belcher found the site unsuitable for the
type of colony he had planned, however,
because too many hills divided the area.
The other colonists, having become tired of
waiting at Galveston, started inland by ox
cart, and they met cold, rainy weather which
made traveling miserable. When the group
reached Cameron, Lieutenant Mackenzie
and Isabella Ann Pidcoke were married. Her
father, a minister, performed the ceremony.
Some of the other group members became
discouraged, however, and bought land on
their own or went to New Orleans or Houston.
Belcher and DeCordova sent word to the
people to stay in Cameron while they went to
Waco to meet the surveyors, Major George B.
Erath and Neil McLennan. The surveyors
went with Belcher and DeCordova up the
Brazos River from Waco to a large land
holding of Richard B. Kimball of New York.
DeCordova was Kimball's land agent.
The Company bought the land in the
Kimball Bend area and in what is now known
as Union Hill and Kopperl. Each colony
member was given the same amount of land
in the Kimball holdings that he would have
received in Colonel Reily's "New Britian"
lands on Cowhouse Creek.
In January, 1851, the colonists founded the
City of Kent at the foot of a limestone hill.
At the top of the hill was a bluff called
Solomon's Nose which was later known as
Robinson's Bluff. The main street of the city
was what is now the public road which passes
between the hills near the modern day Indian
Lodge Fishing Camp.
Some of the colonists lived in dugouts.
Some lived in houses of willow limbs woven
together and covered with mud. Lieutenant
Mackenzie lived in a log house which seems
to have served as the colony's central meeting
place. Residents carried water from a large
spring that gushed from the earth near the
river a few hundred yards from Solomon's
Unfortunately, many people became ill
from exposure to bad weather. Some died and
were buried in the nearby hill in graves which
have been lost. Many colonists left and went
to other places such as Waco, Belton, or
Houston. There was dissatisfaction with
Mackenzie's military discipline and a crop
failure in 1851. When the soldiers were
moved from Ft. Graham to Ft. Belknap, there
were Indian raids. These and other reasons
caused the colony's failure.
The Mackenzies returned to England; the
Pidcokes went to Coryell County. Other
colonists went to various other places, and
the land returned to Kimball. The only
remaining emigrant in 1852 was a man by the
name of Ploughman. He was said to have had
about ten acres of Indian corn, a fine garden,
a small stock of grain, "tolerable improv-
ements," and a few cattle; what Texans would
call "a good start." Of him was written,
"Whatever finally happened to Ploughman is
not recorded. But there is a Ploughman Creek
not far from Old Kent."
by Lucille A. Hughes
OLD KIMBALL TOWN AND
Bridge over Brazos River at site of old Kimball;
built after completion of Whitney Dam.
Ruins of Kimball Academy, established 1873.
In the 1840's, Richard B. Kimball, a New
York financier, acquired land on the Brazos
River by buying up script and having the land
surveyed and patented in the general land
office of the state. He received a grant of a
league of land, 4,428.4 acres as assignee of
John Gates in the northeastern part of
Bosque County. This land included a bend,
2,720 acres, which was almost completely
encircled by the river. It is still known as
Jacob de Cordova, an ex-Jamacian newspa-
per publisher, had acquired vast land hold-
ings in the state and was publicity agent for
those and was land agent for Kimball.
Possibly De Cordova influenced Kimball to
come to that area in 1853 or 1854. They chose
a place on the river that was shallow and free
of quicksand for the site of a city. Lots were
surveyed for sale, and a public square was
dedicated. Soon after 1854, there were a
blacksmith shop, general merchandise stores,
a Baptist church, a public school, and four
saloons, in addition to the residential area.
In the Bend, Richard B. Kimball built a
house with a gallery which could command
a view of seventeen miles of the Brazos River.
He subdivided the land so that each of his
Negros had his own portion to work and
would be rewarded proportionate to individ-
ual production. Each plot of land had a cabin
which had its own area for gardening, and a
poodle dog to keep rabbits out. The planta-
tion was equipped with its own gin.
At New Braunfels, in 1842, De Cordova had
built a home he called "Wanderer's Retreat."
He built a second "Wanderer's Retreat"
between Kimball Bend and Kopperl where he
lived until his death in 1868.
When the cattle drives started, Kimball
town became a prosperous place. It has been
said that herds of cattle came through that
were so large that a single herd would stretch
from the river all the way back to Morgan,
about ten miles. The cows were started
running 400 to 500 yards from the river, and
when the lead cows hit the edge of the water,
the oncoming herd swept them on into the
river. If the lead cows started milling in the
water, and drifting downstream, to keep the
whole herd from going down stream, the
cowboys would often head the lead cow
toward the opposite bank, then shove her
head under water. When she came up and saw
the opposite shore, she swam for it as fast as
she could go. Hundreds of thousands of
longhorn cattle moved through the Kimball
crossing during the late 1860's and early
In 1865, a Mr. Payne built and operated a
ferry boat that could carry a wagon and team
for which he received two dollars fifty cents.
People were ferried across for fifty cents each.
On good days, it is said, Mr. Payne made as
much as two hundred dollars a day. He
operated the ferry for thirty years, then sold
it to W.M. Cleveland, who later sold it to Ben
McDonald. Many settlers headed west
through Kimball because it was a good place
to cross the Brazos River.
A Kimball Academy Building Association
composed of Sam Caruthers, of Hill County,
B.F. Duval, A. Willingham, I.Y. Willingham,
W.L. Bateman, Henry M. De Cordova, and
W.E. Spalding, all of Kimball, and Richard
Kimball, of Kimball Bend, saw to the build-
ing of a school of higher education, which
began classes in 1873. Some ranchers estab-
lished residence in Kimball during the winter
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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/m1/79/?q=campbell: accessed April 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Denton Public Library.