Sunday Morning, September 25,1955
By Doyle Akers
W.O. Ball, 82, remembers the fort.
It was located on his property five miles southwest of Sherman
back in the 1920's after he moved to Grayson County from McAllen in 1921.
But the second story, which had been built of wood, had
in 1920, and there was only the lower floor left. Measuring some 15' X
15', the foot had stood at the headwaters of Choctaw Creek since the
1800's, when Robert Achison first settled the land and quarried the
It was during the days when Indians raided freely across Red
River from the North, stabbing into the settlements, stealing horses,
burning homes and kidnapping children.
Some of the Indians who raided the Achison homestead are still
there.. buried in the Negro graveyard near the old site of the Rock Fort
where Loyd Laughlin and his family live now. (*this was written in 1955).
Those Indians who stayed are a symbol today of the effectiveness
of the tiny fort, built from hand-cut stones, which were moved from the
Atchison quarry a mile southwest. Moved through dense woods, then stacked
to form a bulwark against flaming arrows or lead musket shots.
"Folks came and wanted them stones." Ball said, "I wouldn't
let them have them because that old fort was a landmark and should have
And so, between 1921 when Ball first bought the land, to about
22 years ago, when he sold to Kay Kimble, the landmark stood, a white symbol
of courage of the early settlers in Grayson County.
Ball lives in a comfortable white home situated on 15 acres
of the Robert Achison survey. The remainder of the 196 ace tracts went
from Kay Kimball to Laughlin and in the interian(sic) "folks came
in and hauled away the stones".
Today the foundation of the small family fort is still evident.
Giant stones have tumbled down an embankment, lying for these many years
unmolested. The outline of the original building is still there, and to
the north a few paces are the stones which mark the final resting place
of those who so often came and built a fence around the graveyard several
Cattle Graze Graves
But the fence today is gone, a giant limb from a nearby tree has
fallen across the stones and the cattle graze contentedly over the graves.
Achison's wife is buried in the graveyard. The date of birth
of Mary Achison is listed as Aug. 9, 1808. She died July 17, 1880, a month
before the Old Settlers Association met for its reunion in Sherman for the second
time in history.
Robert Achison was the organizations' first president and
it's ironic to note that the group, in effect fathered by Achison, was dedicated
to the preservation of the memory of old settlers.
The headstone, marking the graves of Achison and his wife,
was supplied by the L.G. Gilmore of Sherman, whose name appears on the
side. The stone has the appearance of marble and rises some 12 feet above the prairie.
Footprints of Fame
Achison, dedicated to the memory of the settlers, slipped
in and out of Grayson history in a kind of obscure way, although leaving
footprints of fame in the pages now and again.
He served as Sherman's second postmaster, taking the position
from James Thompson who served from March 8, 1842 to June 10, 1841. Taking
over on that day, Achison continued as postmaster until April 25, 1854.
Rock Fort disappeared through the years. The school house
was torn down and the church was moved to Sherman. The Achison Quarry was
abandoned some 50 years ago; but the black, fertile soil remains in constant
use, free now from the Indian raids and trampling hooves of the buffalo
herds which passed this way for the last time so many years ago.
Robert Achison was 74 years of age when he was chosen president
of the Old Settlers Association at the initial meeting August 28-29, 1879 at a
grove on the J.C. McKinstry farm near Sherman.
At that time, there is a mention in the pages of Grayson history
that Achison had been a Texan for some 40 years.
When the second meeting of the group was held on the J. Bledsoe
property, Achison's name was absent from the rolls. That was in August
The names of those present when Achison was elected president
reads like the list of orignal surveys of Grayson County. Old settlers
One of the resolutions adopted at the 1879 meeting said, in
part, "That the names of the old pioneers who have passed away shall ever
be held sacred in the memory of this association".
Remember Robert Achison?
W.O. Ball would like to.
"Seems a shame," He said. "They would tear down the old Achison
Fort, it was a landmark."
Ball, although moving from McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley,
was no stranger to Grayson County and had heard the stories of the old timers
while he was farming in Collin County as early as 1896.
Moved to Grayson
He migrated into Collin County in that year from his birthplace
in Tennessee. He traded his property there for a valley farm, but "Mrs.
Ball didn't like it down there", so the couple moved back, settling in Grayson County.
They have been here ever since.
The parents of three children , one having died, the Balls have
a daughter living in Colorado and another in Denison.
"Old man Achison had a lot of slaves," Ball said, "some of
them are buried up there on the hill where the old Rock Fort Church used
to stand. Lots o' Indians buried up there too.
"And back over there," Ball said, with a wave toward the southwest
across the creek and to a heavily timbered hillside, "was where the Achison
On another stone, equaling the elder Achison's in height and
standing nearby, is the inscription, "Laura B. Atchison, Born Grayson County,
Texas, Jan 22, 1846, died July 2, 1862".
The hands which carved the words for the 16-year-old's stone added:
"Cold, Cold is thy grave" For the storms of thy life are now
o'er. Thy home is above place with the Blessed. For thou dwellest