Fannin County, Texas


​​The following article was published in the August 23, 1992 issue of the Bonham Daily Favorite.

Historic Tulip founded by Rowlett group

By John Frair

The history of Fannin County is said to have begun with the arrival of Dr. Daniel Rowlett and a part of six associated families in the later part of March, 1936.

Before 1836 hunters and trappers had been in the out of the area.  Probably more than one person had set up temporary residence west of the Bois d'Arc Creek.

Rowlett recalled in later years the names of four men who were in the county when [he] arrived.  Two are still unknown (Johnson and Jay) but the other two were probably Charles Quillan, who received a First Class Land Certificate No. 30 and gave his date of entry into Texas as December, 1834, and Stephen Westbroom who lived at Warren in 1840.

When the Rowlett group arrived in the northeast corner of Texas Carter P. Clifft and John Emberson were already at Rocky Ford on Bois d'Arc Creek near the present site of Monkstown.

The Rowlett party consisted of Daniel Rowlett, of Wadesboro, Kentucky, John and Edward Stephens of Lamar County, Alabama, Daniel Slack of Mississippi, and Richard Locke of Somersville, Tennessee.  This group hired Captain Benjamin Crook, of the Steamboat Rover, in the fall of 1835 to bring them from Memphis, Tennessee.

The party's contract with the captain was to bring them to Jonesboro in the Mexican province of Texas.  Jonesboro was located on the south bank of the Red River opposite the mouth of the Kiamichi River and was the first American settlement in Texas.

The voyage was necessarily slow and the steamboat did not arrive at Jonesboro until March 1, 1836.  Rowlett and his party were joined here by Jabez Fitzgerald and Mark R. Roberts, two Tennesseeans, who had traveled overland with their families to Fort Townson Landing.

The group stayed at Jonesboro for several days before heading west to Carter P. Cliffts residence at Rocky Ford.

When they arrived at the spring on Bois d'Arc the men left the women at Clifft's and went further inland in search of building land.

Daniel Slack elected to settle onthe east of Bois d'Arc while Rowlett selected his land in the Tulip bend of the Red River.  There they built several small cabins on the bank of the river about 100-yards west of the mouth of Pepper Creek Camp, and named their settlement Lexington.  It is believed that at some time it was renamed Tulip.

The families settling with Rowlett were, according to early court records, Locke, Roberts and Fitzgerald.

About 2 months after the group settled here they formed themselves into a small militia company and 5 men under the command of Rowlett started up the river along the south bank of Red River on a scouting expedition.

Two days later they discovered an Indian trail leading northward toward the river.  When they followed the trail they discovered a group of friendly Kickapoo Indians that informed them of the defeat of the Mexicans at San Jacinto.

The group continued on to a point north of where Denison is now and then turned south to the headwaters of the Trinity River.  Finally they went to the headwaters of Bois d'Arc and following the creek they finally arrived back at Rocky Ford on May 17.

Rowlett and the others spent the next two months securing their settlement and sent out small parties of men to determine the location and mood of the Indians in the area.

As soon as they had the settlement secure Rowlett along with Richard Locke, Daniel Slack and John Seymore rode to South Texas to joint the Texas' battle for independence from Mexico.  The group joined General Sam Houston's army too late to be of any service in the war effort and returned back to Tulip.

The Tulip Bend settlement and the one around Ft. Inglish served at this time the nuclei for a large number of pioneers who had come to North Texas.

With the passage of the Texas General Land Act in 1837 a provision was made for each county to have an official surveyor and a Board of Land Commissioners.  The third Board of Land Commissioners were appointed in April, 1840 and consisted of James S. Barker, Daniel Rowlett, John G. Jouett, and John P. Simpson.  This board issued titles to millions of acres of land in Fannin County.

The official business of the Board of Land Commissioners was carried out in the cabin of Jacob Black in Tulip Bend.  Beside the land transactions, the 1st action of the Commissioner Court was taken in this cabin, according to the History of Tulip by Dock Hiller, when John G. Jouett presided as Chief Justice with Daniel Rowlett and William Williams acting as attorneys for applicants for administration of deceased friends.

During 1839 and '40s Texas' President was opposed to a war policy and favored treaties with the Indians.  He instructed officers and citizens to use their influence to gather together the detached and broken tribes of Indians scattered over the Republic.

Dr. Rowlett collected a tribe of Coushattas at his place on Red River and had oversight of them until they could be provided for by the government.  The Coushattas under this protection left however after a series of events created distrust between the settlers and the Indians.

According to Dock Hillard, the trouble began because of Daniel Dugan's hatred of the Indians that had killed his son near Orangeville.  A second incident also involved the Dugan family.

"Three young men, Green, hoover, and Gordon werre occupying one room of the house, the old man Dugan the other room.  George C. Dugan and his brother William occupied the stable loft to guard the horses.  The young men had retired but the family had not gone to bed, [when] the Indians suddenly forced open the door of the room where the young men were sleeping, and discharged a number of shots into the bed, killing Green and wounding Hoover, they then rushed into the house." according to Hillard's report.

Gordon grabbed the door and slammed it shut throwing the Indians out into the yard where they were attacked by the dogs.  The Indians then started shooting the dogs.  Old man Dugan fired as fast as he could at the Indians and they returned his fire.

George and William were watching one Indians that had set his gun at the door of the stable and was trying to pen the lock to get the horses out.  He was in a position however that kept them from being able to shoot him.

"After the fight was over at the house two Indians came up to the stables with lariats on their necks when the two Dugans let hem have the contents of their guns.  One of the Indians fell dead, the other ran a  short distance and fell uttering savage groans in his dying agonies.  The Indians at the stable door then ran off, leaving his gun," according to Hillard's account of the incident.

One of the Indians killed at the Dugan's was discovered to be wearing a calico hunting skirt that Dr. Rowlett had given to him and the gun at the door of the stable belonged to a Coushatta chief living at Dr. Rowlett's.

The story is related that Catherene, the youngest daughter of Daniel Dugan (who had been killed by Indians earlier) that she would cut off the head of the 1st Indian she saw.  She accordingly shouldered an ax and marched to the stables and severed the head from the body of the dead Indian.  She then carried the head to the house as a trophy.  Ms. Dugan later used the skull for a decoration in her home according to Hillard's tale.

After the battle, the Indians left Tulip Bend and fled into the Indian Territory.

Soon afterward Captain Joseph Sowell and a dozen men crossed the Red River at night and crept up on the Indian village.  They charged the Indians and fired into the wigwams killing ten or twelve Indians.  Since it was a violation of the International law at the time between the United States and the Republic of Texas Sowell and his group kept quiet about the incident.

The Indians did, however, retaliate with an attack on Sowell's tavern near Warren where Sowell was killed in the battle.

Around the mid-1800s Tulip has a Masonic lodge, a school, a general store, a blacksmith and wood shop, two gins and a mill and a church.

In W. A. Carter's History of Fannin County the settlement was described as having excellent farms, rich red lands, producing one-half to a bale of cotton per acre, corn from forty to sixty bushels, wheat, oats and vegetables, and no finer fruit county can be found than that extending from Ravenna to Tulip.

Until about 1900 the settlemtn had a school, a church, and an average popultion of about 50.  The post office was established in 1839 and was discontinued about 1910.  At the turn of the century a stage ran semi-weeklly to Bonoham and mail was delivered tri-weekly.

Some of the early citizens included P. L. Pearson, postmaster; R. L. McRae, liquor, Pope and Spurlin, general sotre, R. C. and J. N. Thompson, mill and in.