ANNOUNCMENT - MARCH 1st.
Great news Tow Boat US will be housing a vessle here at the Marina. This will increase their response time to service calls and emergency responses. Be sure to check out their website and offerings. We encourage each of you to join their membership program as it is a great service and extremely affordable. follow the links to see for yourself. We are excited to have them join the family.
24/7 On-The-Water Towing
Quantrill's Trail - Gordonville
Gordonville is on Farm Road 901 and the shores of Lake Texoma twelve miles north of Whitesboro in the northwest corner of Grayson County. It was a part of Holford's sheep ranch until 1872, when Mark Clayton selected it for the site of his general store. William Clarke Quantrill and his guerrillas camped in that secluded area on their frequent visits to Grayson County during the Civil War. Quantrill's treasurer was Capt. Silas M. Gordon, after whom the Gordonville post office was named. When Quantrill left Grayson County for good, Gordon remained behind and operated a trading post in the new town. The Gordonville post office is one of the oldest in the county. The town's population reached its peak of 300 in 1925. After World War II the population declined. In 1949 Gordonville had a population of 200 and six businesses. In the 1965 the Gordonville school was consolidated with that of Whitesboro. In 1989 the community had Baptist and Presbyterian churches and eighteen businesses, while nearby Lake Texoma provided recreational opportunities. In 1990 the recorded population in Gordonville was 220. In 2000 the community contained thirty-seven businesses and 165 inhabitants.
Four Ghost Towns Under Lake Texoma
Lake Texoma is only a couple feet below normal water levels after the hot, dry summer of 2012. But in 2011 the water levels were much lower, and some American history became exposed after many, many years. Under normal conditions there are 550 miles of shoreline on Lake Texoma, with the Red River arm (45 miles long) in Texas and the Washita arm (30 miles long) in Oklahoma, all of which covers 93,080 acres impounded by Denison Dam.
In 1944 when Lake Texoma began filling up, it changed the landscape considerably, both in Oklahoma and in Texas. It forced relocation of railroads, highways, utilities, and cemeteries. A few towns, however, gave up their identities forever as lake waters submerged their boundaries and wiped them off the map. Preston, Texas, also known as Preston Bend was a prominent town located on the Red River in North Texas, ideally located and used as the Red River crossing of the Butterfield Stage Lines and the Shawnee cattle trail.
The little town prospered in the 1800s due to its strategic location for military and trade roads. Like so many other towns around the country, Preston suffered economically when the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railroad passed by to the east of town, cutting off business from travelers and cattle drives. The former town site is near Pottsboro. Hagerman, Texas was located on a spur off FM 1417 about eight miles NW of Sherman. Originally called Steedman after S. D. Steedman, a respected county judge, it swelled in population from the 1870s, and then it changed names when the railroad came through in 1909.
James Hagerman was a railroad attorney at that time. Hagerman's population was reported as 150 in the 1930s and 1940s until it became submerged in 1944, but Hagerman still showed up on a 1970 county highway map. Cedar Mills, Texas was located twenty-four miles NW of Sherman, and it, too, saw settlers arrive in the 1870s. Grain and lumber mills were built in the thick groves of cedar trees along the Red River, inspiring the name of the town and attracting commerce from farmers and lumbermen.
A hotel and racetrack were built to accommodate all the local visitors when, by 1884 the population grew to 500. Sadly, the railroad bypassed the thriving town of Cedar Mills as well, and there were only 50 residents reported in the 1930s, a few years before the whole place was flooded by Lake Texoma. Drought brought many grave stones out of the water and into the open in the summer of 2011 when lakes all over the state of Texas had water levels drop to unprecedented lows.
Woodville, Okalahoma was named after Judge L. Lipscomb Wood, a prominent Chickasaw citizen at the time and a fitting tribute to what some have called the first town in Indian Territory. It was reported to have had 360 residents in 1944 when it sank into an underwater ghost town.
Last summer a former Woodville resident is reported as sharing,
"Bonnie and Clyde used to come to old Woodville to the chicken fights and they camped right over here in this area what's known as Washita Point. One time for about three weeks they stayed in that area but then they cleared on out without causing any kind of a problem here."
Gordonville Man Finds Native American History in His Own Yard
GORDONVILLE — At first glance the oddly shaped tree in Brad Ward’s yard simply appears to be an old, misshapen tree. The post oak curves at its base, running nearly parallel to the ground, with three thick branches sticking up in to the air, away from the main trunk. The unusual shape of it makes it stand out among the other trees in Ward’s yard — precisely what you would want for something meant to mark a trail, over 100 years ago.
Recently, officials with the Comanche Nation, in a joint effort with the Texas Historic Trees Coalition, certified the tree as a Comanche trail tree. The trail trees were used to mark locations of significance, ranging from campsites, and sources of water, to locations of historic and cultural significance, to the native people of this region. Currently, there are three trees that bear such recognition along the Red River Valley — two in Grayson County, and one near Wichita Falls.
“I always felt there was something different about that tree,” said Ward, who said his wife’s family has lived on the land for over a century. For over 65 years, Ward said he was unaware of the history behind the tree, but felt there was something special about it.
When Ward, a resident of Gordonville, was younger he would always hear stories from his father-in-law about times when he was a child and Native American families would come and ask to camp near to the tree.
It wasn’t until about five years ago that Ward found a tree that looked similar to his while he was online one day. Ward said it was an accident, a misspelling of a word, which led him to the picture of the tree. What Ward had found in his search was one of the first trail marker trees to be certified and confirmed in the state of Texas by the Comanche Nation.
“I thought that if they have a trail marker tree then I have a trail marker tree,” said Ward. “I just thought if it was a historic tree it should be marked, taken care of, and people should know about it.”
Carney Saupitty Jr. with the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center said cultural sites like trail trees are a key part of the Comanche cultural identity. As recent history has brought many tribes together in a small area, the site serves as something that is distinct to the Comanche people who once roamed the Comancheria — the area stretching from Central Texas into New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas.
Saupitty said the Comanche were nomadic, following trails across the wide stretch of land, making trail markers an important part of the culture. At their height, Saupitty said there were over 40,000 members of the Comanche tribe, so many that the Comanche had a specific word for other Comanche that one did not know.
Steve Houser, an arborist with the Texas Historic Trees Coalition who studied the tree, said he has researched over 300 trees in the state. He has confirmed about seven marker trees in the Dallas area, and maintains a file on about 150 others that may be markers. Houser said the process of confirming trees can be a slow one.
“Nature has many ways to bend a tree,” said Houser, who has over 30 years working with trees and other plant life, “There are many, many bent trees out there that are not marker trees.”
For the past three years, Ward has been working with the Nation and the Coalition to confirm the history behind the tree. One of the difficulties in confirming if a tree was used as a trail marker is confirming the age of the tree, said Houser.
“An archaeologist traditionally would use a drill to bore into the tree and remove samples so they could read the growth rings,” said Houser. “I don’t do that. I don’t feel it is respectful, especially if it is a true Comanche marker tree.”
Houser said he uses techniques to estimate an approximate age of the tree and determine if it would be from the correct time frame — between 159 and 264 years ago.
While looking at dead branches from the tree, Houser said the limbs had about 23 ringers per inch. For Ward’s tree, Houser said the growth rate was slow due to the shape of the tree. Nearby, Houser said he found a tree stump with 26 rings per inch, giving more evidence of the tree’s age.
In addition to the shape and age of the tree, Houser said he noticed scarring and ribs on the bark, and compression marks from where the leather straps may have tied the tree down, giving it the characteristic shape. In addition to these indicators, Houser said he noticed a smooth nose on the bend of the main trunk, another indicator of the tree’s past.
Houser also looked at maps and the history of the site for indicators of the tree’s history. Houser and delegates from the Nation examined arrowheads and other artifacts Ward found near the site. The tree was also pointing in the direction of a low water crossing of the Red River, and there are signs of a natural spring at the site, said Houser.
A nearby tree, which has been confirmed to be a Comanche trail tree, was also on the site of a natural spring, said Houser.
The recent interest in trail trees started when the Comanche Nation recognized the first tree in Texas when it confirmed a tree in Dallas in the mid-1990s. Further interest in North Texas started after a newspaper article was published, detailing a tree in Holiday, Texas that was also recognized by the Nation.
We have one of these trees in the marina area, can you spot it?