Caney Bridge


    A trail out of Mulberry going south around the river’s bend used “Cottonwood Crossing” on Caney Creek. It dates from that first charted road (1838), the “Old River Road,” when the destination was still Warren. This crossing was approached in a narrow flood plain where a shelf of sandstone gave firmer passage for wagons and ox carts.  By the 1870s other roads into Mulberry were following the straight lines of major property divisions. In 1907, the location of the present bridge on Caney and Reid’s Crossing were probably the same. The bridge is less than a half mile downstream from Cottonwood Crossing near a line fixed when four Reid sisters divided their inheritance.

    1905 October 6: The Bonham News reported: “New Iron Bridges. [It has been] some time since the Commissioners’ Court let the contract for five new iron bridges to be erected in the county. Col. Campbell, of Dallas, a member of the firm of contractors, is in the county looking after the construction of the bridges. The material was shipped to Ladonia, and is being sent to the various points from that place.” In 1914 Court minutes were still citing locations where “iron bridges” will be built.

    A “citizen’s” letter (also in 1905) was philosophical as it described Red River and the aggravation of another road change:

    I notice an article in the Ravenna News in reference to the public roads of the county (especially those about Ravenna).... It is very true that the money appropriated by the Federal government, as well as the State, from year to year, for many things, could better be used on the public roads, especially the one hundred thousand dollars spent on Red river. Everybody who knows anything about Red river knows it would be just as easy to dip the water out as it will be to remove the sand, because the sand runs like water and is continually changing from one sand bar to another.... But that money is gone and there is no use to grieve over it, but why should we let the roads get in the condition they are in on account of it?... The mud holes get deeper and wider from year to year, till they are just impassable in a time like this. The overseers work the roads like the Arkansas man covered his house: when it’s dry they don’t need it, and when it’s wet they can’t.... The Mulberry and Denison road through Caney bottom has virtually been killed by changing the road through a wet place that can’t be crossed after a rain....

    1907 May 15: B. B. Stubbs and others petitioned to change the “New Road (Mulberry and Denison Road) beginning at the bridge at Reid Crossing on Caney Creek and running West....” But long since, in 1843, Warren had lost its status as “county seat.”

    Mike Busby, a great grandson of J. F. and Bettie Hall, will call it his “Secret Road.”

The Road to Warren

    Sam Houston is credited with the return of a son kidnapped by Indians to Joseph and Louisa Sowell, but Judge Simpson will famously described the sad end of their story:

    Capt. Sowell, when I came to this country, was living on a bluff at Red River below the mouth of Sandy Creek in this country and yet known and called Sowell’s Bluff.... Capt. Sowell had a fine and favorite charger which he kept to himself securely locked in the stable, the guests’ horses in a substantial enclosure close by. That night the Indians had cut the door facing in two with their knives.... Sowell armed with a pistol...a volley of arrows at him, one passing through his stomach and out at the back.

    This happened in 1841 at Sowell’s tavern in Warren. One day (maybe a hundred years later) some boys returned home excited; they’d found his tombstone in a wood, still Sowell’s Bluff to this day. Follow a road from the Bluff to Warren.

“First Settlers” is from Rex Wallace Strickland’s “History of Fannin County, 1836-1843”.

His map shows entire county; here name of “Bastian Oliver” in Mulberry Bend is dimmed

on lands of Nathaniel T. Journey, Samuel Johnson, Hardin Hart and Gideon Smith

    Once more, look back: The year is now 1842, and the scene shifts, in Judge Simpson’s continuing narrative, as he recounts one of the many adventures of an early “Mulberry” resident, Alonzo Larkin. And about him, there’s more to come.

    The day the Hunter family was killed a man named Alonzo Larkin left my house to go to Hunters and reached it late at night. He hailed it several times but getting no answer turned his oxen out to graze and entered the house. Stumbling over some object on the floor he discovered that it was a dead body and supposing the Indians still in the house thought he too would be scalped and tomahawked, he at once started through the dark creek bottom to Dameron’s house a mile distant. He found Dameron unconscious of danger and unaware of the murder of their neighbors. When informed of it they became alarmed and kept guard all night. Mrs. Hunter, the little girl and negro woman were buried on Caney next day.

    Back in Warren: For “making an affray” a printed form was ready to cite those who would do it.  A True Bill of the Republic of Texas (modified to State of ) was filed in Bonham on November 11, 1847:

    The Grand Jurors of the State of Texas...charged to enquire for offenses committed... that one John Kitchins...and one William C. Twitty...the first day of July...with force and arms ...being unlawfully assembled together and arrayed in warlike the Town of Warren, in a certain public street...unlawfully and to the great terror and disturbance of divers good citizens...did make an affray by fighting together to the evil example of all others in like case offending, and against the peace and dignity of the State.

    Twitty was twice a son-in-law of Daniel Montague, in 1842 marrying Rebecca, and again in ‘51, Elizabeth. He will prosper as a “land locator,” and, in 1862 in Cooke County, play a role in the “Great Hanging” at Gainesville.

    1859 February 22: [Commissioners Court ordered Samuel Johnson and others to] ... lay off and mark a road extending from Warren by way of Caney Bridge, Tackett’s Spring, William’s Mill on Bois d’Arc so as to intersect the road from Paris to Warren.

    Johnson’s property included “Cottonwood Crossing.”  John Kitchin was postmaster in Warren between 1847 and ‘49; he also bought and sold a number of lots. “Louisa M. Laughlin formerly Louisa Sowell to John Kitchings for $ the town of Warren... formerly owned by Joseph Sowell and occupied by him as a tavern stand...November 12, 1853.”

    In the fall of 1836 Daniel Montague had been in the town of Warren on Red River operating a general store. The place was named for Abel Warren of Massachusetts who had come with “romantic notions” about the frontier. He had a fair education and remained just long enough to build a block house and trading post. It was John Trimble who established the school. “He cleaned the stable, split logs and inserted wooden legs in provide seats....”

    The site of Warren was five miles west of the mouth of Caney Creek and Nathaniel Journey’s campsite. But as early as November 1836 Journey had already sold his claim to more than 4,600 acres to Daniel Montague for $1,250. Journey and wife Rebecca signed “by making their several marks.”

    1837 December 12: The Second Congress of the Republic of Texas passed the General Land Act. Two days later Fannin County was created out of Red River County with a distant western boundary extending to “the cross timbers.” Five days later Daniel Montague became county surveyor and John Hart, sheriff.

    Terms of the Act: Married men might receive one league and labor of land (4,605 acres) and single men one-third of a league (1,476 acres). Men who married after their entrance into the Republic received an additional two-thirds of a league and a labor.

    1838 April 9: Commissioners’ Court made Warren the county seat and ordered that a stockade be built around Abel Warren’s block house. Warren continued as county seat until administrative functions were moved to Bonham, originally called Bois d’Arc, on January 16, 1843.