One hundred seventy-two years ago, Friday, January 9, 1835, in Monroe County, Mississippi, Gideon Lincecum, Frederick Weaver, Benjamin Nix, John Gwin, Calvin Weaver (Frederick's son), and G. Lincecum (Gideon's brother) climbed on their horses and left their homes near Cotton Gin Port to begin a trek to explore Texas.
FREDERICK WEAVER was my great-great-great-grandfather. He is identified in Burkhalter's biography of Lincecum (p.35) as "a sixty-year-old Methodist minister." At the time Weaver may have been living between present-day Parham and Hatley, Monroe County, MS.
CALVIN WEAVER, son of Frederick, was about 33 years old. At this point, little is known of Calvin Weaver.
BENJAMIN NIX was the 28 year-old son of John Nix, my great-great-great-grandfather. He returned from this journey to his wife, Delila Nix, and children in Monroe County, MS, where he died in 1840.
JOHN GWIN, one of the younger men on the trip, is somewhat of a mystery. He may be the son of Matthew Guinn/Gwin who died about 1823 leaving John and other siblings with mother, Mary Guinn/Gwin. More research is needed. If he this John Gwin, he was probably in his early twenties when he rode to Texas with the Lincecum party.
G. LINCECUM, Gideon's brother, cannot be identified other than by the "G" initial. Unfortunately Hezekiah Lincecum, their father, named most of his sons with names beginning with the letter G: Gideon, Garland, Green, Grant, Gabriel. In later years, Grant Lincecum was known to be living in Catahoula Parish, LA. The 1835 exploratory party crossed Catahoula Parish during the last few days of January. Lincecum's relatives, the Bowies, also lived in that parish. There is no mention in the journal, however, of the group interacting with the Bowie family when they passed by.
Dr. GIDEON LINCECUM, forty-two-year-old leader of the exploratory party, was a Monroe County merchant and doctor when he started his quest for information about Texas. He did not return to Mississippi until August 1835.
At the time Dr. Lincecum left his home in Monroe County, he was living about ten miles from Cotton Gin Port, probably on land near William Wall's tanyard. There is speculation that the Lincecum property was near present-day Parham Gin Road not far from the Hatley-Detroit Road.
The party of six men (Gideon and Frederick were the "old" ones; the others were called "the young men") set off on horse-back with "two good pack horses" and "a camp dog." The ground was covered with snow at their departure. Their destintion was the great vast country to the west of the United States, Texas, which was under Mexican control.
They had slightly over $1,000 to pay for their expenses of the journey --- but primarily they planned to provide what they needed by living-off-the-land. According to Burhalter (p. 36), they carried "meal, a little bacon, a six-gallon brass kettle, coffee pot, pin pans, and a pint tin cup a piece . . . a good double tent . . . rifles . . . coffee, sugar, and soap." Further in the discussion, it is revealed that they also had salt, a small steel mill for grinding corn, and red pepper.
The land of Texas to which they travelled was "Coahuila y Tejas" or Mexican Texas, a State of the country of Mexico. Mexico had won its independence from Spain in 1821. By 1823, in an attempt to gain settlers from the United States, Mexico had encouraged "Yankee" colonization of the vast state of Mexican Texas. Austin's Colony of 300 families had settled along the Brazos River and other families were scattered about east Texas.
By the early 1830s, Mexico, through a series of conventions, attempted to gain control of the settlers by passing a series of laws: a ban on slavery, disarmament of Texas settlers, and expulsion of illegal immigrants from the U.S.A. were the issues that caused the most anger among the early colonists. Rebellion soon followed.
In 1835, the colonists issued their first declaration of Texas independence; in March 1836 they declared their independence from Mexico. Four days later the Battle of the Alamo resulted in the deaths of all the revolutionaries there. In April 1836, the decisive Battle of San Jacinto resulted in the the formation of the independent nation, The Republic of Texas. In 1845 Texas was admitted as a state of the United States of American. By 1861, Texas seceded from the U.S.A. and joined the Confederate States of America. In 1870, Texas was readmitted as a state of the U.S.A.
It was into this political turmoil that the brave party of six from Monroe County, MS, ventured on their journey to Mexican Texas in January 1835. Lincecum scouted out property that he wished to settled upon but it was twelve or thirteen years later, 1848, before he actually moved to Texas. By then the region had won independence from Mexico, had formed a separate nation, the Republic of Texas, and had become a State of the United States of America.
When the scouting party from Cotton Gin Port disbanded at Bastrop, Texas, on March 8, 1835, Gideon Lincecum continued his exploration of Mexican Texas alone not returning to Monroe County until August. Most of the others returned immediately to Mississippi and it is assumed they arrived home by the end of April to mid-May.
Calvin Weaver obviously stayed in Texas when the group of six splint up near Bastrop, Texas. Calvin joined the fight for Texas Independence and was present at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836.
From the journal that Gideon Lincecum wrote while on the journey, the group's route on horseback across Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas can be determined. Here are some annotated entries from that journal.
January 9, Friday, 1835: At the end of their first day of travel, they camped three miles inside the Chickasaw Nation.
January 10, Saturday: Camped on the "Hoolky" [Houlka River]. There is a Houlka River/stream in Clay County, MS near the county line.
January 11, Sunday : Camped on Natchez Trace in Cocktaw Nation at Noah Wall's old place. Most of the stands/inns along the Natchez Trace in Indian Nations were operated by Europeans who had either some Indian blood or were married into influential Indian families. Noah Wall married into an Indian family, the Folsums, and he, himself, may have been part Indian. He left with the Indians after the final treaty was signed and died 1842 in Oklahoma. Gideon Lincecum and Frederick Weaver were neighbors of William Wall. There may be a relationship between William and Noah Wall; more research is needed.
January 12, Monday: Made only three miles; stayed at Moors [Moores].
January 13, Tuesday: Made only seven miles. Pigeon Roost Creeks in Choctaw County, MS.
January 14, Wednesday: Made only nine miles.
January 15, Thursday: Water bound all day.
January 16, Friday: Made 10 miles; stayed at Daniel McCurtain's old place.
January 17, Saturday: Made 30 miles.
January 18, Sunday: Traveled 27 miles in clear weather.
January 19, Monday: Made 30 miles; slept at Livingston. Livingston, MS is a town in Madison County. It is not known if it on the Natchez Trace or if they left the Trace and went over to Livingston. Present-day Livingston is between Canton and Flora, MS.
January 20, Tuesday: Went 30 miles in rain.
January 21, Wednesday: Made 30 miles.
January 22, Thursday: Passed through Gibson Port. Port Gibson, a town on the Natchez Trace, was also close to the Mississippi River.
January 23, Friday: Crossed the Mississippi River.
[NOTE: Assuming they departed from the home of Gideon Lincecum which was "ten miles north of Cotton Gin Port" perhaps near the present-day town of Smithville then called Wall's Tanyard or near the present village of Parham where others in the party lived, the distance to Port Gibson is about 250 miles. Their journey across Mississippi took the better part of 15 days, an average of about 16 miles per day.]
January 24, Saturday: Camped in the Mississippi Swamp west of the river in LA.
January 25, Sunday: Traveled out of the Mississippi Swamp.
January 26, Monday: Crossed the Ouachita River, LA. May be in Catahoula Parish, LA. Gideon Lincecum's brother, Grant, and other family members including some of his Bowie relatives lived in Catahoula Parish by the late 1840s but it is not known what year they moved there.
January 27, Tuesday: Camped in long leaf pine forest.
January 28, Wednesday: Crossed Little River about 18 miles north of Alexandria, LA. There is a Little River in Catahoula Parish northeast of Alexandria.
January 29, Thursday: Crossed Red River. The Red River is the eastern boundary of Natchitoches Parish
January 30, Friday: So cold that not much travel.
January 31, Saturday: Made 22 miles and camped "in the poorest country I ever saw."
February 1, Sunday: Made 28 miles; camped near Fort Jasup [Jessup]. Fort Jessup is a town in Sabine Parish not far from the Sabine River.
February 2, Monday: Made 36 miles; camped within 3 miles of Sabine River. The Sabine River forms the boundary between LA and TX along the southern parts of the states.
February 3, Tuesday: Crossed the U.S./Texas border; camped 12 miles inside Mexican Texas. The group probably crossed Sabine River somewhere on a line between Fort Jessup, LA and San Augustine, TX. The present-day Toledo Bend Reservoir, a large lake on the Sabine River has changed the traditional crossings once located there.
[NOTE: If you take a modern map and draw a straight line between Port Gibson, MS and San Augustine, TX, it will cross most of the features mentioned in Lincecum's journal of his group's trek across Louisiana. In all probability the Lincecum group crossed (from the east) the following parishs of LA: Tensas; Catahoula; LaSalle; Grant; Natchitoches; Sabine. It took the group the better part of twelve days to cross Louisiana by horseback. They averaged about 16 miles per day through Louisiana. The route is approximately 190 miles.]
February 4, Wednesday: Passed through Ayish Bayou Land and St. Augustine (a little town 25 miles east of Nacogdoches). Probably San Augustine County and the small town of San Augustine. Ayish Bayou is located in San Augustine County, TX.
February 5, Thursday: Turned south from St. Augustine to look at lands along the Snow River.
To be continued. . . .
Thanks to the Monroe County MS Roundtable Discussion Group for their assistance and encouragement -- J. Harlow; R. Thompson; J. Sullivan; J. Alverson; M. Riggan. The major source for the journal of the trip written by Gideon Lincecum is Lois Wood Burkhalter, GIDEON LINCECUM 1793 - 1874: A BIOGRAPHY [University of Texas Press, Austin, 1965] pps. 303 - 317.
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