“GTT” Gone To Texas
Early Texas Redbone Families
Presented by Stacy R Webb
Setting the Stage
Redbone Progenitors and their families arrive to Spanish Texas
In 1721 a group of Cherokees moved west to the Rocky mountains, after a tribal disagreement. Many years later this dislocated branch of the Cherokees began appearing in the Neutral Zone and by 1820 they moved into Spanish held Texas. Among the names of the east Texas Cherokee settlers were Duwali, (aka Colonel Bowls) Gatunwali, Fields, Bowls, Bowles, Boles, Brown, Chicken Trotter, Corn Tassel, The Egg, Harris, Harlin, Cuktokeh Jolly, Kanati (Long Turkey), Nekolake, Oosoota, Piggion, Saulowee (Tsulawi), Tahchee, Talontuskee, Talihina (Mrs. Sam Houston), Toquo (Turkey), and many others. Dr. Kennedy identified Duwali as a Turkish word meaning “great leader”. The Cherokee Duwali was a chief among the east Texas Cherokees . Chief Bowles or “Duwali” was the son of a Scottish Highlander from North Carolina and a Cherokee woman. It is unclear when he was given or assumed his Cherokee name of Duwali. Chief Duwali first led his people west to what is now Arkansas. They lived there for a while. Later they moved to East Texas. After being cut off from the Eastern Cherokees who stayed behind, Chief Duwali’s Cherokees became the Western band of the Cherokees.
Could there be a connection between this group of Cherokee and The Old Settlers of the Mississippi Territory? Perhaps so!
Along with the Cherokee, several other tribes from the Southeastern United States also moved into this region of Texas. These were the Alabama, the Coushatta, the Shawnee, the Biloxi, some Creek Indians and a few other smaller groups.
After 1750 numerous Spanish cattlemen moved their herds into the
Rio Grande, Nueces, and San Antonio valleys. Tomas Sanchez located his herd near Laredo, and Enrique de Villareal developed his Rincon del Oso Ranch on 400 sq mi (1,036 sq km) granted to him along Corpus Christi Bay. Blas Maria de la Garza Falcon’s Rancho Santa Petronilla was also near Corpus Christi. Antonio Gil Ibarbo located large herds in East Texas around Nacogdoches.
In the 1740s seventeen ranching families settled north of the Rio Grande, and by 1750 many of these were among the first to move their herds to the Coastal Prairie between the Nueces and Guadalupe rivers. Meanwhile, the settlements of Dolores and Laredo on the Rio Grande became headquarters for many other Spanish ranches. The herds of Andalusian cattle grew in number, became increasingly less domesticated, and by 1820 ranged as thousands of wild cattle in the Brush Country of southern Texas.
While the Spanish were introducing their cattle of Iberian ancestry into Mexico and southern Texas, the early colonists from northwestern Europe were introducing their breeds of cattle to eastern North America and evolving an open-range cattle culture in South Carolina. Their descendants brought cattle herds to East Texas during the 1820s, spreading along the Coastal Prairie, Blackland Prairie, and Piney Woods. The Texas cattle herds increased to the degree that in the mid-1830s, the estimated cattle population in the Department of Brazos and Nacogdoches had risen to over 75,000 head.
Redbone Cattle Ranching
The multiethnic character of early Texas cattle ranching is suggested by the diverse origins of the major stockmen. James Taylor White (Leblanc), a Cajun from Louisiana, owned the largest herds east of the Trinity River by 1830, though he was soon rivaled by the “redbone” Ashworths,
Perkins, Dials and Johnsons who moved in from South Carolinian via Louisiana. These families were known as mixed white, black, and Indian ancestry. Thomas O’Connor, an Irishman from Wexford County, became the leading rancher in the Coastal Bend country north of Corpus Christi in the 1840s, and the German Klebergs later helped build the famous King Ranch in South Texas.
Among the early Angelina County stockmen were pioneering settler and cattleman James Ashworth and his wife Mary (Polly) Perkins and their son-in-law Patrick Johnson, who married their daughter Mary Vianna.
They arrived from Southwest Louisiana. The Ashworths and Johnsons as well as others such as Dials and Goins were members of a Southwest Louisiana group of Redbones. The Redbones are a dark-skinned people with Europen features who emigrated from the Pee Dee region of South Carolina to South Louisiana about 1810. The Redbones brought their cattle culture with them, and University of Texas geographer Terry Jordan credits the Redbones as inventing the Texas cattle industry in Louisiana and bringing it to Texas. James Ashworth’s brother, Aaron, was an early settler in the Orange area and supplied beeves to feed Sam Houston’s army. It is said that Aaron Ashworth had over 3000 head of cattle in the woods.
GTT…GONE TO TEXAS
1803 Louisiana Purchase. The Neutral Territory or “No Man’s Land” Before there was a Texas, both France and Spain claimed the region on both sides of the Sabine River–an area known as the “neutral ground“, “no man’s land“ or “Sabine Free because of early explorations by both nations. French explorers claimed all land drained by the Mississippi River and its tributaries as Louisiana Territory. Spain claimed all southern lands beginning with the first watershed west of the Mississippi. The dispute arose over claims that the “first watershed” was the Sabine or the Atchafalaya River. As a result the land between the two rivers was claimed by both nations. When the U.S. purchased the Louisiana territory in 1803 and inherited France’s claims, the U.S. and Spain agreed that the disputed strip would be neutral territory until an agreement could be reached by the two nations.
The strip soon became a refuge for outlaws and deserters seeking to avoid the laws of any government, leading to the violent Regulator-Moderator War in Shelby and surrounding counties. GTT ‘Gone To Texas’ was a contemporary term for fugitives from justice.
Neutral Zone boundary was further confused in 1819 when the U.S. purchased Florida from Spain and a new, tentative agreement established the Sabine as the international boundary. Texas, at the time, was still Spanish territory, but became a part of Mexico when Mexico won its independence from Spain. When the Republic of Texas was born in 1836, it became a matter of urgency to mark the actual boundary between the Republic and the U.S. A joint commission was established in 1838 to survey and map the land along the boundary.
1813 Keziah Nash d/o Th Nash and wife of Philip Goins has children “legitimized” in the Catholic Church. Father Thomas Nash and Philip Goin make their marks. Later she claimed a birth location as “Las Adaes” and did not speak English.
Jan 16, 1827 Listed under Capt Hugh B Long from Atascocita were mustered into service, Hugh b & WM Johnson, Isaac Harris, Aaron & John Drake, James Griffin, Joseph Clark, John Cherry, Thomas D Goin, Wm Taylor, William Roberts, Wm & Thomas Nash (returned Feb 1st)
1829 Jim Bowie and his party held off a group of Indians at the San Saba Mines near Calf Creek in Texas. He was accompanied by Matthew Doyal. Born in Kentucky, he grew up poor in Louisiana, near some Redbone identified families, where with his brothers John and Rezin he eventually became a slave-trader in association with Jean Lafitte, the pirate and hero of the War of 1812. The brothers bought a sugar plantation and Jim became prominent in local society, serving in the state legislature. In 1827 he killed two men during a savage gun and knife duel in Natchez and became a fugitive GTT. In San Antonio Jim became friendly with the vice governor and married his daughter in 1831 after acquiring Mexican citizenship and land grants. In 1835, a widower, he joined the revolution and was elected colonel of militia, in which capacity he participated in the battle of Concepción and the first siege of the Alamo that ended with the expulsion of Mexican troops from Texas. Bowie refused to accept the authority of Travis, but by the time the Mexicans returned under Santa Anna he had been stricken with typhus. He was bayoneted to death in the sickbay, reportedly wielding his eponymous knife to the end.
1830 A large group of Redbones settled on the west side of the Sabine River in what is today Newton County, Texas. Some of the family names in that area were Adams, Bass, Bennett, Bond, Brack, Brown, Clark, Coleman, Cole, Collins, Davis, Droddy, Goins/Goings/Goyens, Hall, Harper, Hart, James, Johnson, Knight, Lee, Lewis, Martin, Mattox, Moore, Nash, Page, Parker, Perkins, Powell, Smith, Stringer, Taylor, Thompson, Weeks, West, White, Willis, Williams, Woods, Wright, and Young.
April 1830–Relations between the Texans and Mexico reached a new low when Mexico forbid further emigration into Texas by settlers from the United States.
1831 William Ashworth had emigrated from Louisiana and many friends and relatives Redbone families followed him. The Ashworths immigrated to Louisiana from South Carolina in 1799. During the Revolution against Mexico, William and Abner Ashworth paid Gipson Perkins and Elijah Thomas to take their places in the Texas Army. The Ashworths were classified as “free blacks” and were land and slave owners.
1832 William Goyens married Mary Pate Sibley, the daughter-in-law, of DR Sibley. Mary Pate Sibley Goyens had one son, Henry Sibley , however Will iam and Mary Goyens had no children.
26 June 1832–The Battle of Velasco resulted in the first casualties in Texas’ relations with Mexico. After several days of fighting, the Mexicans under Domingo de Ugartechea were forced to surrender for lack of ammunition.
1834 The heirs of Nancy Johnson Gowans widow of Thomas D Goyens, a slave owning family receives one league & labor, 26,000,000 square acres in the County of Liberty about seven miles from Trinity River boarder by the Wm Hardin survey.
1834-1836 Ben Ashes (signed Old Settler Treaty, Mississippi Territory) son of Thomas Nash/Ash gives character certificate, General Land office Texas. Ben gives permissions to allow white families to survey on “Coushatty” Land. The Ashworth Family, William, Aaron, Jesse & Abner give various character certificate, General Land office Texas.
1835 Battle of Goliad George Collingsworth, Ben Milam, and forty-nine other Texans stormed the presidio at Goliad and a small detachment of Mexican defenders.
6 March 1836 — Texans under Col. William B. Travis were overwhelmed by the Mexican army after a two-week siege at the Battle of the Alamo in San Antonio. Daniel William Cloud, a Redbone progenitor was killed.
February 23, 1836, William Goyens helped to negotiate the Forbes-Houston Treaty insuring Cherokee neutrality in the War. Later, The Texas Senate rejected the treaty with the Cherokees which initiated the Cherokee War of 1839. Chief Big Mush and Chief Bowls died on July 16, 1839 and the Cherokee people were forced to abandon their lands.
March 4, 1836, Capt. Benjamin Harper raised a company of 28 men at Beaumont and started westward. Upon reaching Liberty, his company was merged with those of Capt. William Logan and Capt. Franklin Hardin. Most of this company were from Liberty County, but the remainder were from Jefferson and Orange Counties, as follows: from Beaumont, Benjamin Harper, Ephraim Bollinger, Peter Bollinger, David McFaddin, M. J. Brake, and Hezekiah R. Williams; from Pine Island settlement, Lefroy Guidry, David Choate, Stephen Jackson, Lovic P. Dyches, and Michael Peveto, Jr.; from Taylor’s Bayou, William Smith; and from Old Jefferson, David Cole and James Cole. All of these men later fought at the Battle of San Jacinto.
When the Battle of San Jacinto ended, there were still large Mexican armies stationed in Texas, and these had to be escorted back to the Rio Grande River at the very moment that many men from the 90-day militia companies were due to be discharged. When Captain Logan’s company disbanded, Captains Harper and Hardin re-enlisted most of them in new 90-day companies needed to go to the Mexican border. Among Harper’s enlistees from Jefferson and Orange Counties were George Allen, E. Bollinger, W. H. Irion, James McFaddin, C. Bollinger, Moses Allen, David Scott, John Clark, Gilbert Stephenson, Clark Beach, Absalom Jett, John Allen, Aaron and William Ashworth, and John Turner.
1840 The largest Indian fight in Texas history was the Linnville Raid culminating at the battle at Plum Creek. Among the people fighting in that battle were: Owen, Archibald Gipson, Watts, James Bird, Hall, Nichols and Joseph Wood.
The Ashworth Act, passed by the Texas Congress on December 12, 1840, came in response to an act passed on February 5, 1840, which prohibited the immigration of free blacks and ordered all free black residents to vacate the Republic of Texas within two years or be sold into slavery. The earlier act was designed to make color the standard mark of servitude in Texas by eliminating the free black population. It repealed all laws contrary to its provisions and nullified the act of June 5, 1837, which permitted the residence of free blacks living in Texas before the Texas Declaration of Independence. On November 9, 1840, the Hardin and Richardson petitions were referred to the Committee on the State of the Republic. A bill exempting Samuel McCulloch, Jr., and some of his relatives passed its first reading the same day.
Political Correctness At Work?
On November 10, 1840, the Ashworth bill passed the House, and the McCulloch bill was read a second time. At this reading attempts were made to amend the bill by adding the names of William Goyens,qv who was supported by Thomas J. Rusk,qv and two other parties. The amendments lost, but the original bill passed.
1842 — San Antonio was again captured, this time by 1400 Mexican troops under Adrian Woll. Again the Mexicans retreated, but this time with prisoners.
1840 Joshua and Jennie Goins Perkins with son Jesse Perkins took their families westward into Texas.
1846 Benjamin Nash signed The Old Cherokee Settlers Treaty. The Treaty Party was made up of the Eastern Cherokee living in the west, and the North Carolina Cherokee most being of mixed-blood families, generally of one-quarter blood or less who did not remove during final removals.
1850 Leonard Covington Sweat after the bloody Rawhide Fight in Vernon Parish, Louisiana, a fugitive of the law for murder he fled to Texas. His family soon followed. The fight occurred at the schoolhouse on Burton Creek in the Walnut Hill area, at James Groves’ trading post. Known as Glass Window Trading Post because the building held the only known windows in the area. The trading post was established by James Groves, a wealthy white man and son-in-law Redbone progenitor, Thomas Nash. Some time after the fight James Nash son of Thomas Nash/Ash died of knife wound as reported by his wife Mary “Polly” Perkins Nash. His family soon followed, Perkins settled in Piney Woods.
1850 Stephen Nash settled with his Uncle Benjamin Nash/Ash at No Zulch , Madison County where they continued to trade by way of the Old El Camino Real which split and continued south into San Antonia or “The Old San Antonio Road” and north to Nacogdoches.
1854 Samuel Gowan enlisted under PH Rogers as private with the Texas Rangers.
1856 Orange County, Wars. Orange (once part of Madison Co) had the largest aggregate of “free blacks” in the state, numbering about 100. The nucleus of the Mulatto colony included Aaron, Abner, William, Jesse, and Tapler Ashworth and their children; Hiram Bunch, Gibson Perkins, and Elijah Thomas, all of whom were either brothers, in-laws, or were otherwise closely related Redbone families. The wives of some of them were white, whereas a few white men in the county had Mulatto wives (mixed marriage was illegal, although seldom enforced). Most of the Ashworth’s having arrived in Texas by 1834, a few of them held Mexican land grants.
Vigilantes Vs Free Negroes in Texas
Frederick Law Olmsted, in Texas, 1857
A Journey through Texas (New York, 1857).
A characteristic of vigilantism often is that it is hard to tell the vigilantes from the desperadoes. So it was in the “guerrilla of skirmishes and murders” that developed in east Texas in the 1850’s. An issue of racism was present, there was feud like involvement of entire families, and the victims included not only the sheriff and deputy sheriff, but a couple of strangers caught in the cross-fire. Guerrilla, feud, battle–it was also vigilantism. The account that follows is by a noted traveler and reporter on Texas and the antebellum South.
This county has been lately the scene of events, which prove that it must have contained a much larger number of free Negroes and persons of mixed blood than we were informed on the spot, in spite of the very severe statute forbidding their introduction, which has been backed by additional legislative penalties in 1856. Banded together, they have been able to resist the power, not only of the legal authorities, but of a local “Vigilance Committee,” which gave them a certain number of hours to leave the State, and a guerrilla of skirmishes and murders has been carried on for many months, up the banks of the Sabine, with the revival of the old names of “Moderators and Regulators” of the early Texans.
1857 Vigilance Committee
Upon this the Vigilance Committee was organized, and the sheriff, who was suspected of connivance at the escape of Ashworth, and all of the Ashworth family with their relatives and supporters, summoned to leave the county on pain of death. On the other hand, all free men of color on the border, to the number of one hundred and fifty, or more, joined with a few whites and Spaniards, formed an organized band, and defied the Committee, and then ensued a series of assassinations, burnings of houses and saw-mills, and open fights. The Moderators, or Committee-men, became strong enough to range the county, and demand that every man, capable of bearing arms, should join them, or quit the county on pain of death. This increased the resistance and the bloody retaliation, and, at the last accounts they were laying regular siege to the house of a family who had refused to join them. The feud appears to have commenced with the condemnation, by a justice of the peace, of a free mulatto, named Samuel Ashworth, to receive twenty-five lashes, on a charge of malicious killing of his neighbor’s hogs, and of impertinent talking.
Thirty families had been compelled to leave the county, and murders were still occurring every week. Among those killed were two strangers, traveling through the county; also the deputy sheriff, and the sheriff himself, who was found concealed under the floor of a lonely house, with a quantity of machinery for the issue of false money, and immediately shot; the proprietor of the house, defending h imself, revolver in hand, fell pierced with many balls. The aid of the military power of the State had been invoked by the legal authorities, but the issue I had not seen in the newspapers.
1857 James Goyen enlisted San Saba under JH Conner as Mounted men with the Texas Rangers.
1857 Raborn Goyens & Seaborn Goyens enlist as under WR Woods as Mounted men with the Texas Rangers. Both son’s of progenitor Redbone family, Jeremiah & Sarophina Drake Goins.
1860 Raborn Goyens & John N Goyens enlist under WR Wood as Minute men with the Texas Rangers.
1896 Nash Family, descendant of Thomas Nash, “A Full Blooded CherokeeIndian” makes application to Cherokee Nation. Part of the family removes to Indian Territory and another part settled in East Texas, and refused removal. “Our family out there was walking to East just to get something to eat. Why would we want to go starve with them”?
Redbone Families continued to migrate to Texas. The Mayo wagon train was a late migration of Redbone families from Holmes Co., FL to Rapides, LA. They set out on their journey late in the year of 1857 or early 1858 to Rapides Parish, La. A large number of families left the Choctawhatchee River area of northwest Florida and journeyed west. These families, often described as “mixed-bloods” joined an older settlement of Reverend Joseph Willis, Goins, Perkins, Nash and Sweat families to produce what is known today as the “Red Bone” community. Some of the families moving back and forth between La. and Tx. so often they are enumerated in both locations in the same census year.