Fannin County Museum of History


‚ÄčOne Main Street, Bonham, Texas

Perpetual Peace and Friendship

Bonham Daily Favorite, April 10, 1994

Admittedly a lack of official records and newspapers for the Red River Valley in those earliest days of settlement by immigrants from the United States present a difficult situation in trying to determine the extent of any Indian depredations against the settlers. Since none of the later writers make mention of such occurrences, it seems reasonably certain that nothing of this nature occurred. It seems that only when the tide of settlers increased markedly about 1838 that the hostilities began.

As the first incursions began to occur along Red River, President Sam Houston set into action his Indian policy formulated in a Texas law of December 5, 1836. Houston's plan was to establish peace, friendship, and trade with the Indians residents of Texas in addition to providing adequate protection to those settlers along the frontier .

The enacted law empowered Houston to appoint and send agents among the Indians and make treaties with the tribes. His powers also extended toward the construction of blockhouses, trading posts, and forts in the area most likely to experience difficulties with the Indians. He also was able to create a military force to guard the frontier. In all likelihood the act creating the Fannin Guards in 1840 was the result of the powers extended to Houston by the Congress. Nothing in the extant records however, indicate the construction of Fort Inglish and Fort Lyday were in any way connected with the presidential powers.

After five Fannin County deaths at the hands of Indian marauders in 1838, the treaty-making aspects by appointed agents was put into action. Houston named Holland Coffee, Silas Colville, Daniel R. Jackson, and A.O. Houston agents to meet with the chiefs of several tribes and to bring about a suitable treaty between the parties.

On September 2, 1838 these men met with representatives of the Keechi, Tawakoni, Waco, and Tawehash nations along with their associated bands for "the purpose of establishing and perpetuating peace and friendship between the Republic of Texas" and those mentioned tribes. The parties, according to the official report filed by Coffee met "near the mouth of Washita at Shawnee Village in Fannin County, Republic of Texas." (Note: The location of this meeting was somewhat to the west of Coffee's trading post in present day north central Grayson County.)

No record exists to indicate how long it took to hammer out the treaty. A reading of the five articles strongly suggests that these points might have been prepared in advance of the meeting and presented to the Indian representatives on something of a take it or leave it basis.

Article 1 states, "there shall be perpetual peace and friendship between all the Citizens of the Republic of Texas and all the Indians composing the Keechi, Tawakoni, Waco, and Tawehash nations and these associate bands or tribes of Indians."

The remaining articles dealt with a general forgiveness on the part of both parties for previously committed hostile acts, and agreement by the Indians to pay full value for injury to persons or goods of any trader established near their settlements or hunting grounds.

The willingness of the Indians to enter this treaty was to be rewarded by the commissioners with presents as soon as the treaty was signed under condition of article four.

Article five read, "this treaty shall be obligatory on the nations or tribes from and after the date hereof and on the Republic of Texas from and after its ratification by the government thereof."

The treaty was signed by the four agents appointed by Houston along with the representatives of the Indian Tribes, Oso, Chief of the Keecki ; Tocarawate, Tawakoni Chief; Carawatta and Orahsta, Tawehash Captains; and Ichata and Wakka, Captains of the Waco.

Nothing accompanies the copies of the treaty to indicate what sort of presents were presented after the signing or even if the presents were immediately forthcoming. However, a ledger sheet appears among the Indian Papers of the Republic of Texas titled "A Ledger Sheet of Gifts to Indians, 1843. It is possible that they are the gifts from the original treaty or they may be gifts presented later after the lessening of tensions between these tribes and the frontier settlers. Whatever the time frame for the distribution of these gifts their number and makeup are of interest

Three of the columns indicate the names of the tribes, the number, and the number of warriors. The variation in the numbers would seem to indicate that these were presented at a gathering or meeting rather than to the entire tribe.

The Keechi numbered 28 with 12 warriors. The Waco and Tawakoni are listed together with 126 and 54 warriors. There is no listing for the Tawehash.

The ledger also details the actual presents given with a division for the members of the tribe and separate gifts for the chiefs. It is indicated that the total of presents is under $100 to each tribe.

Again the Waco and Tawakoni are listed together. The accounts are follows:

Wire    $13.60
Blue Drilling    15.47
Sheeting    6.00
Bed-tick    15.30
Knives    10.00
Paints    5.00
Total  $65.37


3 brass kettles & 2 Hatchett pipes entered on first bill 3 blankets    $16.50
 3 blankets

3 Red Strouding flaps 3.00
Tobacco    1.50
Knives    2.50
Paint    .75
Total    $24.25

Total amount to Waco and Tawakoni

The Keechi tribe received essentially the same gifts to a total expenditure of $39.00.