Fannin County Museum of History


‚ÄčOne Main Street, Bonham, Texas

Leftovers . . . Of A Sort

Bonham Daily Favorite, March 5, 1995

Today a look at some more of the oddments of Fannin County history :

In 1838, Le Comte Alphonse de Saligny, secretary to the French Legation in Washington, was sent as a secret agent to the newly organized Republic of Texas. France became interested in the new country and especially in the potential role that France could play in the fledgling country. De Saligny was not overly impressed by the frontier people or the ill organized government.

He left Texas but returned in 1842 to gather further information for his government. During this expedition he received a report from Charles Power, of the house of McCalmont, Brothers, and Company of Liverpool and London, which was a general appraisal of the prospects of Texas.

Addressing himself to the importance of Texas waterways, Power expressed his interest in the potential of the Trinity River this way: "I believe that the Trinity that empties into Galveston Bay will one day become the best river from the fact not generally known that that River heads within 5 miles of Red River which is about 10 feet higher than the Trinity and by cutting a canal of about 15 miles you could have a constant volume of water that would render that stream navigable as well as throw the whole trade of Fannin, Bowie, Harrison, and Red River Counties in this bay which now goes to New Orleans through Nachitoches."

* * *
Among the records to be found in the Fannin County Courthouse is an oath of allegiance filed in 1840. This is the only such document I have found and I can find no reason for it. Although applicants for the various headright certificates issued by the Republic of Texas were required to present two creditable witnesses for their date of arrival in the country, the proceedings of the Land Commissioners make no mention of such oaths of allegience.

This particular document is labeled No.l Letters of Citizenship.

Republic of Texas

County of Fannin+ To all whom these presents shall come, know ye that James Harrison native of the United States of America, born in the country of Buckingham and State of Virginia, sixty-four years of age, now of said County and Republic hath this day personally appeared before me Joseph Murphy, Chief Justice and Notary Public for sd. County and made oath that he has resided in said Republic six months immediately preceding the date hereof, that he intends to remain a citizen of this Republic and support its Constitution

NOTE: A James W. Harrison received Third Class Land Grant #118 for 640 acres from the Board of Land Commissioners. Another James W. Harrison received Third Class Land Grant #135 for 640 acres. Neither Harrison appears in later records of Fannin County.

 *   *  *  *
Newspapermen of the nineteenth century seemed to take especial delight in traveling around their region of influence to report on the conditions of the area. Charles DeMorse, Editor and Publisher of The Northern Standard of Clarksville, took such a trip in the autumn of 1844. In his report later published in the paper he wrote of his stopover in Bonham." We have seen no prettier town site for a long time than the county seat of Fannin. It is situated in the corner of a fine prairie which is just at the edge of timber. Where the town is situated declines in three directions toward a little ravine just enough to keep it free from standing water. While the timber around the three sides mentioned furnishes very pleasant shade for residences. Water of good quality may be procured in any desirable quantity anywhere by digging twenty to forty feet. The town as yet numbers but few citizens therefore, of course, but few houses. Currently it is a very pretty site and in three or four years will be quite a thriving little town should no unforeseen occurrence injure its prosperity.

Fannin is a county of fine lands and has a voting population of 400 which will be very much increased in the next two years by emigration. Indeed that county and the Trinity County beyond are acquiring most of the emigration to northern Texas. Bonham, of course, even if it were only a stopping place on the route of travel should profit by this and being the center of the county seat of a county of rich lands and increasing population and with navigation to a point within 15 miles of it will necessarily soon be a town of respectable size. There is no difficulty in bringing goods in or shipping cotton from Robert's landing on Red River 15 miles from Bonham."

DeMorse's prediction for the growth of Bonham was borne out less than four years later when Dr. Edward Smith, English physician reported that the population was about 700. The Robert' Landing referred to was an enterprise of Mark R. Roberts, one of the ten original colonists with the Dr. Daniel Rowlett party of 1836. Roberts from his land survey just north of present day Lake Fannin, operated an extensive river freight operation utilizing rafts and barges. There are numerous references to his shipping cotton from his "warehouses" down Red River to various Mississippi ports .

* * * *

Almost from the beginning of the Republic of Texas there was talk of annexation to the United States. As can be imagined there were proponents and opponents in both the Republic and the United States. On May 20, 1845 a public meeting was held in Bonham on the annexation question.

George Smith chaired the meeting and Dr. John H. Wilson acted as Secretary. A series of resolutions, which evidently had been prepared in advance by unknown persons, were read and moved for adoption. Reference was made to the U.S. Congress overtures to Texas offering certain terms of annexation and additional references were made to the President of the Republic of Texas convening the Texas Congress on June 15th. The resolutions called on the citizens of Fannin County to adopt these statements and further to instruct its representative T.F. Smith to "consumate and effect the immediate annexation of this Republic to the United States."

Representative Smith, Dr. Daniel Rowlett, and Palmer J. Pillans spoke at length against the propositions. Gustave A. Everts rebutted each of the opponents speeches.

At the vote taken under the direction of Thomas Cowart, than 2 to 1 persons voted in favor of annexation and adoption of the resolutions.

In June voters of Fannin County elected G.A. Everts and William Evans delegates to the annexation convention.