Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Tale Of Two Texas Historical Markers In Arlington's River Legacy Park

Way back in 2003, when the new section of trail opened on the north side of the Trinity River in River Legacy Park, two Texas historical markers were moved from their original locations near what they were historically marking, to a new location adjacent to the River Legacy Park paved trail.

At the bottom of the Bird's Fort Historical Marker a sign has been added which says...


I believe the location of Bird's Fort was long ago bulldozed by the Veridian development.

Way back in 2003 and for a few years after that, at the end of the River Legacy trail, at the 7 mile mark, one could leave River Legacy Park and explore a vast wasteland where off roaders had built all sorts of things, including one of the most Tarzan-like treehouses I have ever seen. Somewhere near this location were the remains of Bird's Fort, which I never found.

The info on the Bird's Fort Historical Marker is interesting.....

In an effort to attract settlers to the region and to provide protection from Indian raids, General Edward H. Tarrant of the Republic of Texas Militia authorized Jonathan Bird to establish a settlement and military post in the area. Bird's Fort, built near a crescent-shaped lake one mile east in 1841, was the first attempt at Anglo-American colonization in present Tarrant County. The settlers, from the Red River area, suffered from hunger and Indian problems and soon returned home or joined other settlements.

In August 1843 troops of the Jacob Snively Expedition disbanded at the abandoned fort, which consisted of a few log structures. Organized to capture Mexican gold wagons on the Santa Fe Trail in retaliation for raids on San Antonio, the outfit had been disarmed by United States forces.

About the same time, negotiations began at the fort between Republic of Texas officials General Tarrant and General George W. Terrell and the leaders of nine Indian tribes. The meetings ended on September 29, 1843, with the signing of the Bird's Fort Treaty. Terms of the agreement called for an end to existing conflicts  and the establishment of a line separating Indian lands from territory open for colonization.

Well, the Bird's Fort Treaty did not work out too well for the Indians. But, what treaty really ever did?

Due west of the Bird's Fort Historical Marker is the SLOAN-JOURNEY EXPEDITION OF 1838 Historical Marker. That Historical Marker is also interesting....

In the Spring of 1838, Captains Robert Sloan and Nathaniel T. Journey led a group of about 90 Northeast Texas frontiersmen on a punitive expedition against the Indians who had raided their homes in present day Fannin County. The trail led them to the vicinity of present day Euless and Arlington, where they attacked a small Indian village, killed several Indians and recovered a few horses. The Sloan-Journey Expedition is among the first known Anglo-American activities in what is now Tarrant County that helped to open North Texas to White Settlement.

White Settlement? Is that not a West Fort Worth suburb?

These Texas Historical Markers put me in mind of a Historical Marker I saw years ago, in Northern California, near Lava Beds National Monument. That particular Historical Marker marked the Captain Jack fiasco, where a band of Modoc Indians kept the American army at bay for a long enough time that the world got caught up in following the heroics of Captain Jack and his band of Modocs.

The "old" Historical Marker sort of puts Captain Jack in a bad light as a bad guy. But, when you visit the Lava Beds National Monument site of the actual siege, you get a more balanced historical perspective of the tragedy that happened at that location.

I wonder what a revisionist Texas Historical Marker might say about what is described in these two Texas Historical Markers in River Legacy Park?

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