Before roads and rails came ‘traces’

East Texas was traversed by several roads, or “traces,” prior to the Revolution of 1836 that separated the country from Mexico.

Surveyors of the early land grants used the approximate distance from roads as a means of locating these grants on the land maps of Texas. From these descriptive phrases, the approximate location of roads that existed prior to early road maps is determined.

Survey results locate Trammel’s Trace as early as 1838. This trace meandered south from the Red River. Whether this trace was used by Nicholas Trammel to transport stolen goods from Southeast Texas to Arkansas as early as 1816, or was the trace located by another Trammel from Clarksville to Nacogdoches in 1825 is a matter debated by historians.

The Nicholas Trammel trace is generally thought of as lying in Panola and Harrison counties.

Another trace mentioned as early as 1838 is the Caddo Trace, which originated east of the Morris-Cass county line and went west.

In 1846, the First Regiment, Kentucky Volunteer Cavalry built a military road through this area for “one-time only use.” This road meandered from Fulton’s Crossin on Red River through Bowie County to Epperson’s Ferry north of Bryan’s Mill on Sulphur River; through northern Cass County to just south of the County Line Church and Cemetery; west through Morris County to the Sycamore community, where they crossed Boggy Creek and intersected a road thought to be Caddo Trace, then north and west into Titus County.

In Titus County, the regiment turned south to Gilmer and may have come into the Longview area before turning and passing the “ruins of Old Fort Sherman” southwest of Mount Pleasant.