Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Early Texas Towns and Cities -- Mount Pleasant

In the northern part of East Texas, when Texas was still a part of Mexico back in the early 1830s, the Caddo Indians lived peaceful lives in their rounded huts and were known for their large burial mounds. Legend speaks of a particularly high hill the Caddo called ‘Pleasant Mound,’ soon to be known as Mount Pleasant.

When pioneers came to the frontier, the area’s rich land, many creeks, forests, and abundant wildlife, the place lured many to settle and build their homes there. The area is known today as Titus County, named after Andrew Jackson Titus (1814-1855), who was an early resident of the settlement.

In Vow Unbroken, Andrew Titus owned and operated the first trading post, and meets my hero Henry Buckmeyer of the Texas Romance Family Saga series in 1832 when he buys an extra team of mules to get the heroine’s cotton harvest to market in Jefferson. They end up being fast friends with the trader showing up in many other books of the series.

Then in 1840 and the new Cross Timbers Romance Family Saga, Andrew sells the clan from Tennessee a few Texas Headrights along with supplies. He’s the one credited with the good roads between Clarksville, thirty-plus miles to the northwest to Pleasant Mound for the grangers to move their crops to market in the river port of Jefferson.
The Caddo remained in northeast Texas as late as 1845, living peacefully with the white men, but as more and more Anglos came from the east, most disappeared, moving north of the Red River into Oklahoma. On May 11, 1846, the Texas legislature created Titus County. Three other pioneers, John Binion, Sr., Richard Moore, and L. Gilbert, then set aside a forty-eight block town site, laying it out to serve as the new county seat.

The town experienced a steady growth in the 1800's that included farmers planting in the rich soil and lumbermen harvesting the large supply of hardwood trees. By 1850 the population was recorded at two hundred twenty-seven, but by the end of the century, rose to over three thousand. Countywide, the population tripled from three thousand to nine thousand-plus in one decade (1850 to 1860. Land sold for two to ten dollars per acre.

Back then the county was much larger including our present-day Franklin and Morris Counties. High waters along the many creeks and the flooding of the Sulphur River often halted travel in the early years. Record time to haul cotton from Mount Pleasant to Jefferson was five days by ox wagon.

Truck farming with cotton and corn as the main cash crops grew commercially significant. Most families kept oxen, mules, milk cows, hogs, and chickens. They hunted deer, turkeys, pigeon, bear, and small game such as rabbits to eat with the vegetables grown in their gardens.

They lived simple lives with farmers going to town to handle business and purchase other necessities, bringing heavy wagon traffic to Mount Pleasant’s town square. Hitching rails were provided to tie their teams while they shopped with merchants who extended credit with a mortgage on the farmer's crop.

In 1861, Texas voted to secede from the Union, though it was a close and highly contentious debate. Titus County residents voted for it 411 to 285 then as many as three thousand men left to fight with the Confederates. During the Civil War, Mount Pleasant became the site of a confederate transportation depot. Its mission to build wagons, fit them out with teams of oxen, horses, and mules caused a boom to the population.

The wagons were to move men and supplies to the front including beef, butter, corn, rice, cotton, oats, sweet potatoes, flour, cornmeal, leather, lumber, pottery, tobacco, whiskey, and wool. The new depot hired on blacksmiths, carpenters, harness makers and wheelwrights. were employed, and the city’s population boomed.

An old pottery founded during that time moved to Mount Pleasant as well and became one of the largest industries of its kind in the state. Lignite coal mines added to the town’s economy, as did the many new manufacturing plants—nine sawmills, eight gristmills, seven tanneries, and a steam powered distillery.

After the North won the war, grave markers all over the county testified that too many of their young men had given the ultimate sacrifice. A statue of a Confederate soldier facing north was erected in memory of more lost men who never returned. Veterans coming home found farms mostly neglected for the four long years of the war and the area suffered.

It took close to two years before most farms were operational again with cotton "king" once again.

Bio: Caryl McAdoo prays her story brings God glory which is what she lives to do. Her award-winning, best-selling novels enjoy a lion’s share of 5-Star ratings from Christian readers around the world. With thirty-eight titles, it’s obvious she loves writing almost as much as singing the new songs the Lord gives her—listen to a few at YouTube. She and high school sweetheart Ron celebrated fifty years of marriage in June 2018; they share four children and eighteen grandsugars. The McAdoos live in the woods south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County in far Northeast Texas, waiting expectantly for God to open the next door.

Contact and follow Caryl at: Website  /  Amazon  /  BookBub  /  Facebook  /  Twitter  /  YouTube  /  Puzzle

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