Cass County


This information is copied from The Cass County Genealogical Society, 1975, Vol. II, No. 3, pg. 13-15.

The Daughters of American Revolution will be chartered by the time this reaches you here in Cass County. They have chosen for their Chapter name "Trammel's Trace". Mrs. Louise Martin has been the Organizing Leader and has done a wonderful job in organizing this Chapter here in Cass County. This material was gathered by her to mail into the headquarters in Washington D.C. to give the history of the name chosen by the members. The Organizing Members will be listed in another quarterly. May we say "THANKS" to Mrs. Louise Martin, who cared enough to do all the hard long hours of wor, and even spent her own money to accomplish the goal she had set and to help others prove their generations. May the Cass County people be grateful to her for many generations to come.

By: Annabel Pagan
Texarkana High School
The Junior Historian
September 1856

D.A.R. proof, gathered by Mrs. Louise Martin

North of Texarkana is the point where Trammel's Trace crossed the state line entering Texas. Here the contour of the hills leads to Spring Lake Park where the bold, flowing spring and great trees have given comfort to travelers since time immemorial. Of the present-day Texans who throng to this spot by the hundreds for recreation, few realize the tremendous significance to the pioneers of this abundant supply of pure water.

The thoughtful observer might well recall Nicholas Trammel, the adventurous soul who penetrated the early winderness and opened the door to the great state of Texas for such heroes as Stephen F. Austin, James Bowie, Sam Houston, David Crockett, and others, who followed the trail which bore his name.

The changes of the twentieth century are all two rapidly erasing evidence of the Trace. Even now the monument marking the old Epperson's Ferry crossing on Sulphur River, one of the best known spots on Trammel's Trace, will soon be flooded by the waters of Texarkana Lake.

Sometimes described as an early Indian trail and sometimes as a horse path, the Trace is supposed to have been run as early as 1813 by Nicholas Trammel, a scout of some distinction, whose family had pioneered many frontiers in westward expansion. He was born in Tennessee where his father, Nicholas Trammel, Sr., was one of the original founders of Nashville, Tennessee, which was then called Nashborough. The elder Trammel, who was also a scout and trader, eventually lost his life defending the settlement against the Chreokee Indians. Nick Trammel moved across the Mississippi with his grandparents and down the Southwest Trail with his uncles (Mrs. Forester had pencil note "Phillip Trammel, great grandfather in legislature of Illinois. Two of his uncles were scouts in the American Revolution")

Although he was commissioned by the government (United States) to cut many trails, only the one in Texas bears his name. Trammel's Trace is distinctly Texas history. It was the first road to Texas from the northeast, forming the connecting link between the Southwest Trail from St. Louis and the King's Highway.

Beginning at Fulton and taking advantage of the high ground available, Trammel's Trace ran southwesterly. Skirting Lake Comfort and crossing McKinney Bayou, it left the bottom land and proceeded to the present-day Sugar Hill Plantation. At the entrance to the Plantation it crossed the Arkansas-Texas state line between mounds 102 and 103, just north of Texarkana. According to surveyors' notes and descriptions of headright Surveys of Texas, it bore southwesterly, crossing US Highway 82 at present-day Nash, where Nick Trammel once had a camp and stockade corral. It continued on its southwesterly course, by-passing today's towns of Red Water and Maud, until it intersected State Highway 8 about one and one-half miles south of Maud.

Thence in a gradual curve to Sulphur River the Trace reached Epperson's Ferry where, in 1936, a monument was erected bearing this inscription:

"Site of Epperson's Ferry
At this crossing, constructed by nature
and used by the Caddo Indians, early
Frency and Spanish explorers, and
travelers over Trammel's Trace, 1815
1830, Mark Epperson before 1837
established a ferry used until the
construction of a wooden bridge
antecating the modern structure
erected in 1924."

East of the old ferry and just within sight, a tumbledown pile of stones marks the stie of the old stone chimney from the home of the ferryman, Mark Epperson. In a short time all this will be flooded when the Texarkana Dam is complete. Another revered spot of pioneer history will be erased, unless someone takes the necessary measures to remove the monument to an appropriate place.

From Epperson's Ferry, Trammel's Trace continued southwesterly passing near Bryan's Mill to the fork where it joined the old trail to Jonesboro, known in the record as the Spanish Trace. From this junction the main trace ran almost due south passing to the east of present day Hughes Springs and continued in a gradual curve to a crossing of Big Cypress Bayou just west of today's Jefferson. According to tradition Nick Trammel also had a stockade and corral on the north side of this crossint.

From this point the location of Trammel's Trace is well established in the organization of Harrison County, and again as being the line dividing Rusk and Panola counties. It crossed State Highways No. 43 and 149 at Tatum. In 1936 the state of Texas erected a monument approximately thirteen and one-half miles east of Henderson to mark the Trace. The length of Trammel's Trace is about one hundred and eighty miles.

Although the records of land surveyors do not determine the exact location of the trail from Mount Enterprise to Nacogdoches, Hunt and Randall's map of Texas, dated 1838, shows its path from the southwest corner of what is now Panola County to Nacogdoches. According to this map it was near the present highway from Mount Enterprise to Nacogdoches.

As the Trace cut across the famous buffalo hunting grounds in the bend of Red River, it followed, for the most part, old Indian trails which spread out from the main Caddo Village.

Trade in the West had long been carried on by scouts from the Mississippi Valley. Since life for them was a rugged struggle in the wilderness, they wisely incorporated many ideas from the Indians and worked out many for themselves. With colorful trinkets and a string of pack horses carrying woolen shirts, blankets, and so forth, the scout made his way to the Indian Villages, and at river crossings he bartered his wares for pelts, or sometimes eagle quills filled with gold, which were brought from the Far West.

Shipping over Red River in those days was not practical because of a hugh blockade of trees and driftwood stretching for over one hundred miles above Natchitoches, known as The Great Raft. There was, however, one passage around the blockade known only to scouts and Indian guides. Every fall when the floods came, they packed rafts and floated their goods to the New Orleans market over this little known route.

Game in these parts was plentiful, and all that was not eaten was "Jerked", or dried and smoked. The tongues of animals were salted and smoked. On the trip these were simply boiled over the campfire. Corn was parched, and a conserve was made of mashed fruit and honey dried in the sun and rolled - then sliced with a hunting knife. During the spring the traders gathered wild greens and onions, which were then called "Shawnee Salad". What they learned from the Indians, they passed on to the settlers.

When the frontiersmen camped, they set snares for animals and baited traps before the pack horses were unloaded so they could kill game for the day. They carried oiled skins which were stretched over bent saplings, lined with rawhide to make a shelter. This hung low to the ground on the windward side, and the fire was built on the open side not only for warmth but also for protection. At night wild animals would lurk in the darkness, but would never come into the circle of light made by the fire.

Trade in the West proceeded at a rapid rate, and settlers beyond the Mississippi looked on Texas with longing for the rich land that was theirs for the taking. Before 1824, the Trace was strictly for pack horses, but Andrew Davis helped Nicholas Trammel cut trail for wagons in that year.

Many of those who traveled over the Trace died at the Alamo. Some of those were David Crockett and James Bowie. Thus, in the lives of many Texans, Trammel's Trace holds a real meaning. The complete history of the Trace as such has been lost with the passing of the years. Just as the people moved west, the eyes of the rest of the world turned toward the Pacific, and Trammel's Trace was almost forgotten. Before the last memory fades and while documentary evidence of the Trace's location is still available, this gateway to a new horizon should be marked forever with appropriate monuments so that posterity may properly remember and appreciate this early Texas trail.

NOTE: Mrs. Louise Martin received this copy from Mrs. Willard Jaynes of Linden - formerly Mrs. M.M. McMichael.

© 2010 TXGenWeb