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Cherokee County, Texas


Benge, Chief Samuel

Marker location: 4.2 miles north of Jacksonville on US 69, then 5 miles west on FM 855 and 2 miles north on FM 2137 to CR 3601

Text: A leader of the Cherokee Indians in Texas during the 1830s, Samuel Benge was present at the negotiations with General Sam Houston, John Cameron and John Forbes in early 1836 to secure a treaty with the Cherokee in return for neutrality during the imminent war for independence from Mexico. As a condition of the resulting Houston-Forbes Treaty, the Cherokee were to occupy specific lands in east Texas, and Chief Benge, a signer of the treaty, was required to move east across the Neches River into what is now Cherokee County. The Cherokee upheld their part of the treaty during the war, but the Republic of Texas senate later nullified the treaty, a step toward the ultimate removal of the Cherokees from Texas. (2001)

Bowles', Chief, Last Homesite

Marker location: 2 miles north of Alto on US 69 to CR 2405, (2001)

Text: In 1836, General Sam Houston negotiated a treaty with the Cherokees in Texas allowing possession of the lands they occupied in east Texas. The leading figure among the Cherokees at that time was Duwali (also known as Bowl, Chief Bowles and Bold Hunter). After the Texas Revolution, the Senate of the Republic of Texas declared the treaty invalid. Near this site in 1839, Chief Bowles learned of Texas president Mirabeau B. Lamar's orders to remove the Cherokee from Texas. Bowl mobilized his people to resist the expulsion, but they were defeated and the chief was killed at the Battle of the Neches on July 16, 1839, in what is now Van Zandt County. (2001)

Bowles, Great Chief  (Last Home of Bowles, Great Chief of the Cherokee Nation)

Marker location: near Alto

Text:  Here he received President Lamar's decree of expulsion form Texas of the Cherokees and associate tribes in June 1839. Chief Bowles was killed in a decisive battle in the present Van Zandt County, July 16, 1839 and the tribes expelled.

Delaware Indian Village

Marker location:  about 2.5 miles west of Alto on SH 21 (1936)

Text: Noted as interpreters and messengers of peace, the Delawares were chiefly instrumental in bringing other tribes to the General Treaty at Bird's Fort (in the present county of Tarrant) in 1843.

Fry's Gap

Marker location: 3 mi. NW at int. of CR 3305 and CR3306 (2002)

Text: Fry's Gap A gap in a ridge near Gum Creek headwaters made a natural trail for early travelers, including Kickapoo Indians. The Fry family settled along the creek in the 1840s. Early industry in the Fry's Gap Community included Joseph Fry's grist mill and blacksmith shop, as well as Rhome Ragsdale's brickyard, kiln, paint factory, cotton gin and corn mill. When the Texas & New Orleans Railway came through in 1902, it used the old trail for the line. The depot at Fry's Gap soon became a shipping point for produce, lumber and oilfield supplies. Fry's Gap was also winter home to the J. Doug Morgan traveling tent show in the 1920s. Fry's Gap faded, but descendants of its early settlers remain. (2002)


Marker location: 2 miles SW of Alto on Hwy 21

Text: In the present county of Cherokee was the home of the exalted Grand Xinesi-Chief Priest and Custodian of the Sacred Fire of the Hasinai Confederacy of Indians. If fire was allowed to die out, it was his duty to carry more fire with proper ceremony to their homes to be rekindled. It was to the Hasinai -- the principal tribe of this Confederacy -- that the word "Texas" was generally applied.

Killough Massacre

Marker location: 7 miles northwest of Jacksonville on US 69, north to FM 855 then southeast on CR 3405 to monument site on CR 3411

Text:In this area, on October 5, 1838, the Killough, Wood and Williams families were attacked by hostile Indians and Mexicans: 18 were either killed or carried away; 8 escaped on horseback; 3 women with a baby fled on foot and were saved on third day by a friendly Indian. Was biggest Indian depredation of East Texas. Bodies of the victims found were buried here.

Little Bean's Cherokee Village

Marker location:  3 miles west of Rusk on US 84 at FM 347

Text:n the winter of 1819-1820 Chief John Bowles led about sixty Cherokee families from Arkansas to East Texas. Near this site a small settlement was established by a leader named Little Bean. They remained until 1839, when the Republic of Texas government forced the tribe to move to Oklahoma. The land later was opened to Anglo settlers. Early owners of the Indian village were Reza J. Banks and Lewis Rogers. Little Bean, who died in 1839, is thought to be buried in the vicinity of the village. (1999)

Mound Prairie

Marker location: 8 miles west of Alto on SH 2, just past Caddo Mounds State Park

Text: Bulging out of the earth a few yards form this point, three prehistoric Indian mounds interrupt the prevailing flat terrain. Long overgrown with grass, the mounds and adjacent village (covering about 100 acres) constitute one of the major aboriginal sites in North America. From about 500 to 1100 A.D., Caddoan Indians inhabited the village, which lay near the southwest edge of a great mound-building culture. Called "Mississippian," this culture once flourished throughout the present eastern United States. Excavations during 1939-41 and 1968-69 showed two of the mounds to have had ceremonial purposes. One may have been capped with bright yellow clay and both apparently supported temples. The tallest mound (about 20 feet) revealed several major burials. The village, surrounding the mounds but not settled before they were built, contained many round houses that probably resembled giant bee hives. Thousands of pot fragments, some pipes, charred corn cobs and nuts, and flint points were found in the area. Centuries after its abandonment by the Indians, this region was again a center of civilization when, in 1690, the first Spanish mission in Est Texas was built nearby to minister to the Neches Indians. (1969)

Neches Indian Village

Marker location: 8 miles west of Alto on SH 21 just past Caddo Mounds State Park

Text: Here at the opening of the 18th century stood a village of the Neches Indians. Their name was given to the river and later to a mission, San Francisco de los Neches, established nearby. With the Cherokees, the Neches Indians were expelled from Texas in 1839.  (1936)

Neches Saline Road, Old

Marker location: US 175, 2 miles northwest of Jacksonville

Text: Originally an Indian trail. Used in 1765 by the Spanish priest Calahorra on an Indian peace mission. Gained importance, 1820s, for use in hauling salt from Neches Saline to Nacogdoches. Survivors of the Killough family massacre of 1838 fled via the road to Fort Lacy. The Texas Army used it en route to fight Mexican rebel Cordova in 1838 and in Cherokee War, 1839. Some of Kentucky volunteers went this way to the Mexican War, 1846. After Indian wars, road brought in many settlers. Jacksonville, Dialville and Larissa grew up along its path. (1970

This  information comes from The Texas Historical Commission Markers.