A prominent new sign pointing the way to Comanchero Canyons Museum in now in place on Highway 86 in Quitaque.
A prominent new sign pointing the way to Comanchero Canyons Museum in now in place on Highway 86 in Quitaque.
Portions of this article are reprinted from front page story in Caprock Courier, Nov 5, 2014, by Carol Campbell, and other parts are from the official program of the West Texas Trails Meeting and from notes of various attendees.
The inaugural meeting of the West Texas Trails met on October 25, 2014, in the Hope Center at Quitaque, hosted by the Comanchero Canyons Museum and the West Texas Historical Association (WTHA). Conference moderator was former WTHA president Marisue Potts, Matador, and WTHA Executive Director Tai Kreidler of the Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
About 70 guests from Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas attended the all-day meeting with a packed program including presenters from Silverton, Quitaque, Lubbock, Amarillo, Seymour, Granbury, Crowell, Floyd County, Happy, and Fort Worth, Texas.
The keynote speaker was Dr. John Miller Morris, a Panhandle native from Clarendon, Texas, who currently is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Geography at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Dr. Morris is a geographer and historian specializing in historical geography of the American southwest. He has authored several books, including El Llano Estacado: Exploration and Imagination on the High Plains of Texas and New Mexico, 1536-1860; Coronado to Escalante: The Explorers of the Spanish Southwest; and A Private in the Texas Rangers.
The title of his keynote presentation was “Trails to Destiny.” He began by comparing West Texas trails to city trails: “wide open spaces to city grid lock; and pump jacks to car jacks;” then he took the audience on trails from our past into our future.
He outlined the first trails of man as “corridors of human travel” and then asked the question: “Why did we leave? Well, apparently human beings have a risk-taking gene, DRD4-7R, also known as ‘The Curiosity Gene’.”
“Peoples of Africa followed the migratory birds to North America; and the first human trail was 14,000 years ago by the Clovis people who followed animal trails to hunt for Alibates flint on the Canadian River. Buffalo figured out how to wander the vast Great Plains,” he said. “Vast herds used corridors of travel.”
Then the “Trouble with Trails” began when the first Europeans set out to the north in 1538, hence the Coronado Trails. The Spaniards left their horses, and the horse cultures of the Indians in the Comanchero followed the Equine Trails. Horses provided mobility across the grasslands and they found watering holes, “The Path of Living Waters.”
New trails emerged – wagon and stagecoach trails, military trails, Alkali trails, Western Cattle Trails (Chisholm and Mobeetie). Then in 1882, the Iron Rail Trails emerged, looking for smooth, flat land – the shortest and easiest routes – cutting off smaller towns like Old Tascosa. 1909 ushered in the Age of the Automobile and the Asphalt Trails emerged.
Road networks by the early 1920s followed the Ozark Trail (first east-west auto trail), which actually comes right through Quitaque. Dirt trails were paved with caliche and asphalt. Route 66 in the Depression Era moved migrants to California. Morris concluded his comments with announcing “The End of the Trail” and “may all your trails be happy trails.”
Following the keynote presentation, “The Quitaque Connections” featured presentations on
• “Texan Santa Fe Expedition,” Jerry Leatherman, Silverton.
• “Old Wagon Road,” Bob Saul, Fort Worth and Jim Saul, Quitaque.
• “Comanche Plunder Trail,” Duane Johnson, Crowell.
• “Mackenzie Trails,” Sam Watts, Floyd County and Granbury
• “Comanchero Trails — Internet Blogging and Web Technology,” Neal Odom, Happy
• Jerry Leatherman, Silverton, who spoke on the 1841 Texan Santa Fe Expedition where 327 men (270 were soldiers and the rest were merchants, politicians, and teamsters) with 20 huge laden wagons with a wide range of supplies, horses, and oxen, left Austin, Texas, to find a western trade route to Santa Fe, NM. They attempted to follow old Indian trails up the Caprock Escarpment. When they met the cap rock barrier, they couldn’t get their wagons to the top. Running out of food, the party was harassed by the Kiowa who killed five of their men.
“They left a bloody trail,” Leatherman said. These trails and camps have been “discovered” by researchers, historians, and “arm-chair” archeologists. The most famous camp discovered was “Camp Resolution” where Commander Hugh McLeod drew up a resolution detailing the decision to split the command, and the site became known as Camp Resolution. He sent 100 men with the best horses to the top to find food and guides to rescue them.
“There were at least four sites where the military and wagon train camped,” Leatherman said. “They started in Motley County. Researchers have found Camp 1 and Camp 4, and we think we know where Camp 2 and Camp 3 are located, but it has not been verified.”
A. J. Taylor, who as a young archeologist assisted Eddie Guffee in the research and excavation of the Merrell-Taylor Village site, commonly known as a Comanchero trading post, recognized special guest Patti Guffee, who assisted with the investigation by her capable lab work and research. The late Eddie Guffee was recognized by the chairperson for his untiring work to locate the sites of the camps of Camp Resolution of the Texan-Santa Fe Expedition.
• A presentation by brothers Bob Saul, Fort Worth, and Jim Saul, Quitaque, told the story of the “Old Wagon Road” on their property on the caprock near Quitaque, Texas. Known on surveyors’ field notes and abstracts as “The Old Indian Trail,” this trail extends onto the plains and parts of it are still visible today. Local legend says this was the only trail in the region where a two-wheeled cart or a four-wheeled wagon could traverse from the breaks (canyons) to the plains, and even then they had to be “double-teamed” because of the steep terrain.
• Duane Johnson, Crowell, spoke on the “Comanche Plunder Trail,” and Neal Odom of Happy, whose great grandfather worked for Col. Goodnight, spoke on the “Comanchero Trails,” internet blogging and web technology.
• Delores Mosser of Lubbock spoke to the group on “The Pastores’ Trail of Living Water.”
Following a barbecue lunch at the Tri-County Center, the group toured the new Comanchero Canyons Museum in Quitaque. The centerpiece of the museum is a “carreta,” symbolizing the type of Mexican cart the Comancheros might have used in their trade with the Comanches in the Quitaque area. Exhibits on Texan Santa Fe Expedition, the Red River War, pre-historic and historic Indian artifacts, the Otho Stubbs collection and other personal collections and art are displayed, representing a five-county region.
The afternoon program kicked off with “Carson’s Military Trail to Adobe Walls,” by Alvin Lynn, Amarillo. The Motley County native hiked 200 miles and spent 14 years writing a book on the trail that he explored with boots on the ground. He recently led a tour to The First Battle of Adobe Walls.
• “The Mackenzie Trails” by Sam Watts of Floyd County and Granbury followed with a discussion on archival maps. He found that some maps were not very accurate, but some “good maps” are currently being discovered in the state and national archives where they had been misfiled or misplaced, he said.
• A third presentation, “Chihuahua Trade Trail” by Victoria Scism offered clues on how this crew chief documents their finds along an often faint trace. More information was forth-coming by Claude Hudspeth of San Angelo on using GPS, photographs, and software programs to document a trail. Hudspeth’s pet project is the California Emigrant Trail, including the Butterfield Trail, marked by wagon parts, a few ox shoes, and many graves. To conclude the emphasis on research and documentation, Tai Kreidler handed out a list of current digital maps available online at the Southwest Collection archives at TTU and offered their resources for research.
“The first inaugural meeting of West Texas Trails was such a huge success that hosts for the second annual meeting is now open for consideration,” Marisue Potts said. “The Comanchero Canyons Museum and the West Texas Historical Association are exceedingly pleased with the turnout of this consortium on historic trails. The interest displayed in the history of this rich and colorful region is writing a new chapter.”
The Caprock Courier newspaper is pleased to announce a donation to the Comanchero Canyons Museum in Quitaque, Texas, for the purchase of a display plaque to accompany the Equus Scotti exhibit recently acquired by the museum.
Publisher Sally Threet is thrilled with the progress the Museum Board is making toward this cultural project, which will preserve many area artifacts and historical items, enabling visitors to learn and enjoy these fascinating finds for generations to come.
Briscoe County News June 25, 2014
The Comanchero Canyons Rendezvous was a success June 21, 2014 in Quitaque, with history enthusiasts coming from all over. Many people brought items to be examined by the volunteer historians and archaeologists, finding out things about their arrowheads and other treasures.
Volunteers included Dr. Paul Katz of Panhandle, Dr A.J. Taylor and Fred Oglesby of Albuquerque and Rick Day of White Flats. The professional archaeologists commented that this was a superior event to many that they have participated in.
Burgers and other goodies were served to around 100 people, and it seemed that everyone had a great time.
The building and exhibits are looking great, and you can see that the place is well on the way to opening up as a museum soon. Learn more or find out how to join in and help out at http://comancherocanyonsmuseum.com/
The Museum Board of Directors has worked very hard to put all the pieces of the Comanchero Canyons Museum in motion.
This cylinder from an 1847 Colt Walker “Transition” cap and ball revolver was dug in Floyd County, Texas in 2012.
The serial number is 1024. The first 1000 of these revolvers were delivered to the U. S. Army. Serial numbers 1000 – 1020 were presentation models given to top U.S. officials. It is not yet known who received this cylinder or how it ended up in Floyd County. Frequently owners of cap and ball revolvers carried spare cylinders in the event they needed to reload quickly. No other part of this gun was found after a search of the area. The cylinder still has three balls loaded.
This scene (inscribed on the cylinder) was on those first 1000 plus pistols. It is intended to represent the Texas Rangers in a conflict with Indians, but the artist mistakenly dressed the Rangers in the uniform of the U.S. Dragoons.
A Republic of Texas “Dragoon” button and two “trade” rings were among artifacts recovered in 2013 from one of the Texan-Santa Fe Expedition’s 1841 camp sites located in Floyd County, Texas.
The Texan-Santa Fe Expedition of 1841
By 1841 the Republic of Texas had been an independent nation for five years following a successful revolt against Mexico. The President of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, had decided to send an expedition to Santa Fe after receiving exaggerated reports that the majority of citizens of New Mexico desired to become part of Texas and break away from Mexico.
Santa Fe was the prize economic gem in New Mexico since it was the trade center of the United States. The famed Santa Fe Trail was an established trade route, originating in Saint Louis, Missouri. Texas was in desperate need of economic help and wanted to tap the huge flow of goods, gold, silver and furs funneling through Santa Fe.
President Lamar, ignoring the objections of other Texas politicians, pushed for an expedition to Santa Fe in an effort to fill the coffers of the struggling republic. A force of over 200 Republic of Texas soldiers, including one six-pounder cannon, and over 100 merchants and support personnel driving 22 heavily laden wagons filled with supplies and trade goods, made up the expedition dubbed the “Santa Fe Pioneers” by President Lamar. They left Brushy Creek near Austin on Sunday, June 20, 1841, full of expectations of riches and adventure. The adventure part they received in full measure along the way, severely testing their fortitude, supplies and well being, but the riches were a pipe dream.
Guided by a misleading guide, they struggled along on a march that wandered around some of the most difficult terrain to traverse in Texas. In the last part of August the now disgruntled Pioneers arrived in the southeastern part of Motley County, with less than half of their wagons surviving the rugged trip. The misadventures had scarcely begun. Travelling through Motley and sending a scout party into Hall County, they would ultimately wind up camping in Motley, Briscoe and Floyd counties at several different sites while they tried to find a way to get the remaining wagons up the steep caprock. They were constantly harassed by Indians, hunger, the weather and indecision. The last part of their force, with only three wagons left, was finally led up the caprock in Briscoe County in late September. They thought they were beginning the last leg of their journey. Instead they marched into New Mexico and were captured without a shot being fired by a Mexican Army. Ultimately the Santa Fe Pioneers were forced to walk as prisoners to a Mexico City prison.
The first skeletal remains of an Equus scotti in North America was discovered about 1899 a few miles from where these remains were discovered over 100 years later at Lake Mackenzie 10 miles northwest of Silverton, in Briscoe County, Texas.
Equus scotti is an extinct species in the genus that contains horses, Equus. This name translates to “Scotti’s Horse” from Latin, and was given to the extinct equine by a paleontologist of vertebrates named William Berryman Scott. Native to North America, it is thought that Equus scotti evolved from a creature that resembled a zebra more than a horse during the early Pleistocene Epoch http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Equus scotti was one of the last native horses in North America, becoming extinct during the mass extinction of large animals in the last ice age approximately ten thousand years ago. Horses were not in North America until nearly ten thousand years later, appearing when conquistadors brought them over by ship. Some of those horses escaped, becoming ancestors to modern horses.
19th century Carreta donated to the Comanchero Canyons Museum by Marisue Potts
Comanchero Canyons Museum
The Comanchero Canyons Museum, located in Quitaque, Texas, is progressing toward a projected opening in 2014. The organization began as a Texas nonprofit corporation in February of this year, directing its efforts to serve an area of the Caprock encompassing Briscoe, Floyd, Hall, Motley and Swisher counties. The intention of the museum is to focus on occupants of these counties prior to the 20th Century.
A number of exhibits are being planned, beginning with the first known inhabitants of the area, hunter-gatherers associated with the mastodons and other pre-historic animals, then progressing through the various Native American tribes, named and unnamed, early Spanish influence, including the 1808 200 man led expedition of Spaniards from San Antonio traversed this area to Santa Fe to quell an uprising, the ill-fated Texan-Santa Fe Expedition in 1841, the 4th Calvary campaigns of 1871-72, along with the battles of the Red River War in 1874-75. Artifacts from the Texan-Santa Fe Expedition and the Red River War have already been given for display in the museum, as well as fossil remains discovered in the area and an authentic Mexican carreta (cart) recently donated by Marisue Potts of Motley County, in memory of her husband, Ralph Powell. It is of particular interest due to its connection with the Comancheros that utilized this area in the 1700s and 1800s. A Comanchero was a term connected to the traders who came primarily from New Mexico to do business with the various tribes, principally Comanche, Kiowa and Cheyenne, who inhabited the canyons.
The first major donation to the museum came in the form of a 3,000 square feet church building in Quitaque, which led to the decision to be located in that town. The close proximity to Caprock Canyons State Park and their efforts to increase tourist visits to the area also helped.
A number of businesses and individuals have contributed to the start-up of the museum. Donations of money and acceptable artifacts continue to be needed for the success of the museum. In some cases, loans of artifacts are accepted.
Although originally formed with five directors, one director resigned due to a lack of time necessary to devote to the museum. The remaining directors voted to expand to a maximum of eleven directors. Presently there are eight directors of the museum. They are Jana Carpenter, Quitaque; Ronnie Carpenter, Quitaque; Anthony Kingery, Silverton; Jerry Leatherman (current chairman of the board), Silverton; Wade Proctor, Quitaque; Bryan Schott, Silverton; Cecil White, Hall County; and Kim White, Floyd County. The board is currently considering filling the last three openings, hopefully with at least one member from Motley County and one from Swisher County.