A Civil War Miscellany
Bonham Daily Favorite, August 29, 1993
An interesting bit of Red River Valley folklore concerns Sophia Coffee Butts, famed hostess of Glen Eden Plantation at Preston Bend, and her gallant ride to save North Texas from invasion by Union troops. In 1863 and 1864 many residents of the area were apprehensive about an almost certain invasion from the forces of Union General Steele. Frequent sightings of "Yankee" scouts were reported throughout the area and a rumor was widespread that an attempt was to be made to kidnap Colonel James Bourland, Fannin County pioneer who was commander of Confederate troops along the frontier.
The legend recounts that when a band of these scouts arrived at Glen Eden and Sophia learned of their mission, she set about entertaining the "enemy" with all the guile and charm of a Southern belle. As the men were wining and dining, Sophia saddled her horse, swam across the river and galloped to Bourland's camp to warn him. Many swore that her actions not only prevented the kidnapping but also help prevent the threatened invasion (discounting of course the impact of Bourland's own garrisons, the troops headquartered at Bonham, or the many other companies in Indian Territory between General Steele and the river.)
Bourland himself may have fueled the invasion rumors in correspondence to General Henry McCulloch at Bonham. Reporting on the deserters in the area in an April 2, 1864 communique, Bourland repeated information brought by a Lt. Whaley from Captain Mains in Montague County. Mains had interviewed wives of some of the deserters and had gained information of more than 1000 men massed along the river.
Bourland added that a young man by the name of Carter had recently returned from Indian Territory and he verified that the men had now moved up on Beaver Creek where they joined with about 3000 Union troops who intended to make a raid on this part of Texas within the next ten days.
Later dispatches brought by Lt. Whaley stated that a suspected band of Indians and Jayhawkers were probably in the same area and that the Indian raids taking place in North Texas at the time were originating from that area.
Whaley reported that two thirds of the Confederate force at Buffalo Stations and Fort Belknap had deserted.
Indian raids continued in Cooke and Montague Counties but the anticipated invasion from the north never came.
With the loss of the U.S. Postal Service at the outbreak of the Civil War, the Confederate government empowered each state in the Confederacy to set up their own postal system, establishing post offices, routes, and appointing the postmasters.
During the years 1861 to 1865, nine post offices were operated in Fannin County. Fourteen men served these offices during the duration. At Bonham Henry Hoffar was appointed July 12, 1861 and Tillman A. Caldwell was appointed his successor on September 1, 1864. Three men served at Honey Grove, D.M. Morrison appointed July 12, 1861, Orville Smith appointed January 4, 1864, and Sinclair Stapp on January 3, 1865. Warren also had three men to serve. J.C. Parrish was named on July 17, 1861 but may have died before taking office. James K. Blair filled the position on August 30. William H. Brooks succeeded Blair on September 15, 1864.
The remaining six offices each had only one postmaster, all of whom were appointed either in the summer after the start of the war or early in 1862. It is assumed that these men served until the dissolution of the Confederacy. At Ladonia D.S. Redner was appointed January 17, 1862, and Thomas Higginbotham was appointed to the Bois d'Arc office on the same day. This last appointment is something of a mystery. Where was this post office.7 The name Bois d'Arc was the old name for Bonham and Bonham had appointees at that time. Was there another little community who adopted the same name? If so, where was it located?
Elbridge Harle received his appointment at Orangeville on July 12, 1861 followed three weeks later by John R. Garnett's appointment at Garrett's Bluff on August 6, 1861. (Garrett's Bluff was actually in Lamar County but most of its mail patrons were in northeast Fannin County.) J.J. Smith, at Oak Hill, and Walter Davie at Sowell's Bluff were both appointed on March 13, 1862.
From the Fannin County Commissioners Court records, May 21, 1865: It is ordered that the sum of $__ be appropriated for the purpose of purchasing arms and ammunitions for the protection of the county in the war. Alfred E. Pace, C.C. Alexander, and J.R. Russell are appointed treasurers and agents to receive all moneys. They are further empowered to investigate and adopt the safest, most advisable, and speedy plan to select and procure the amount of ammunition and arms.
The Commisisoners Court authorized $9.42 in payment to Charles DeMorse, publisher of The Northern Standard for printing Confederate Loan Script for Fannin County.
The Court ordered $1200 of the jury fund to be appropriated for the purchase of tents and camp equipment to the volunteers of Fannin County in the war.
June 15, 1863. The Commissioners Court ordered a levy of 17 1/2 cents as a special tax for the purpose of supporting and properly protecting absent soldiers families in Fannin County.
November 16, 1863 the State Military Board advised that 480 pairs of cotton cards could be purchased at Austin for $4800. The Court ordered Samuel J. Gailbraith to procure the same and transport to Fannin County. They also allowed $756 for Galbraith to purchase 30,000 percussion caps, at Austin for the county. Galbraith was ordered to deliver 100 of the caps to Captain Davis and Captain Hobbs for their companies of minute men.
August 21, 1865. At the August Term of the Fannin County Commissioners Court , Robert H. Taylor appointed Chief Justice of Fannin County by the provisional governor Andrew Jackson Hamilton, ordered all county officials to report to the courthouse to take their oath of amnesty and file bonds. Included in these officials were Alexander Moore, James M. Biggerstaff, John G. Jones, C.C. Nelms, S.J. Galbraith, J.B. Anderson, A.P. Carter, E.B. Hicks, and R.S. Hunt.
Fannin County Museum of History
One Main Street, Bonham, Texas