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FENCED-IN VILLAGE

FENCED-IN VILLAGE. Fenced-in Village ranked second in importance among the settlements established by the Alabama Indian tribe in the Big Thicket region. The center of this village was on a hill of the Kisatchie Wold or ridge five miles southeast of Peach Tree Village in northwestern Tyler County. The Fenced-In Village site is on present County Road 135 of the Tyler County road system, midway between Mount Zion Church and Bethany Church. The location of this village is shown on a map included with the surveyor's field notes for a Republic of Texas two-league grant of land for the Alabama tribe in 1840. Also, it is shown on a map of Liberty County (which included Tyler County during the years of the Republic of Texas) drawn by H. L. Upshur in 1841. This village and the surrounding territory were included in a survey of land patented to Harmon Frazier. The Alabamas usually demonstrated considerable skill in trailblazing and in selecting advantageous sites for their villages. The choice of the Fenced-In Village site is a good example. The hilltop location provided drainage, and the existence of nearby springs and the headwaters of several creeks assured an adequate water supply. The Liberty-Nacogdoches Road passed through this Indian community, which developed into a significant trading center. Typically an Alabama Indian village, such as Fenced-In, was actually a community in which cabins were located in a succession of neighborhoods scattered through the woods and along streams and connected by a network of trails. Cabins were usually grouped in family or clan units, with adequate land around each cabin for cultivating vegetables and growing fruit trees. Near the center of each community was a square ground used for a variety of governmental, social, entertainment, and religious activities. Thus, a village would usually be a scattering of homesites extending for miles around a square ground. The identification of this village as "Fenced-In" may suggest a number of Indian cabins enclosed by a rail fence, but this name refers only to a tract of land in the village site designated for agricultural use by village residents. A rail fence was constructed around this community gardening or farming area to provide at least partial protection for the Alabama Indians' vegetable crops and fruit trees. Incoming white settlers saw the desirable agricultural land in the surrounding area, and the land around Fenced-In Village was soon surveyed and claimed by these newcomers. Also, the Alabamas' rights to hunting grounds in the area were disputed and restricted. In 1840 the Fourth Congress of Texas had passed an act granting two leagues of land, including the village, for the Alabamas. Apparently, when surveyors arrived in the area, the remaining Alabamas left, believing that the men had come to secure the land for white settlers. They abandoned at least 200 acres of fenced-in agricultural land and moved south along Big Cypress Creek.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Gustav Dresel, Houston Journal: Adventures in North America and Texas, 1837–1841, trans. and ed. Max Freund (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1954). Howard N. Martin, "Polk County Indians: Alabamas, Coushattas, Pakana Muskogees," East Texas Historical Journal 17 (1979). Harriet Smither, "The Alabama Indians of Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 36 (October 1932). Dorman H. Winfrey and James M. Day, eds., Texas Indian Papers (4 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1959–61; rpt., 5 vols., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1966).

Howard N. Martin

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Howard N. Martin, "FENCED-IN VILLAGE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/bpf02), accessed September 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.