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CHEROKEE TRACE

CHEROKEE TRACE. The Cherokee Trace was a historic trail that traversed East and Northeast Texas. The Cherokee Indians are credited with blazing this route about 1821. It is also possible that the trace may have evolved from one marked by other Native American groups or French traders a century earlier and that the Cherokees further defined and smoothed out this course. According to folklore, the Indians dragged buffalo skins behind their horses to flatten the tall grass and then cleared the path of brush and logs. They charted a road that encountered the best camping places, river fords, and springs. They also planted honeysuckle and rose bushes along the route. The white blooming hedgerows functioned as bright and effective indicators of the trace, and the stiff branches and briars of the Cherokee rose later became noted by settlers as a dependable shrub for fencing.

The trail ran from the vicinity of Nacogdoches north through Northeast Texas including present-day Gregg, Upshur, and Camp counties. The road then crossed Big Cypress Creek into Titus County near the historic location of Fort Sherman and continued north to Indian settlements in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Serving as a travel and trading route for East Texas Indians, the trail also enabled the migration of many settlers into Texas. Popular tradition holds that Sam Houston, David Crockett,qqv and other participants in the Texas Revolution first crossed the Red River into Texas on the Cherokee Trace. Early land grant surveys of the 1830s and 1840s mention the trail as a landmark and also reference roads that subsequently evolved from this route such as the Fort Towson Road and Clarksville-Nacogdoches Road. In 1839, after their defeat at the battle of the Neches, many Cherokees fled Texas on this trail. Remnants of the old Cherokee Trace along with hedgerows of roses can still be found in Northeast Texas today.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Laurie E. Jasinski, "A History of Lake Bob Sandlin State Park" (unpublished manuscript, Cultural Resources Program, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Austin, March 2001). Marker files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin (Cherokee Trace—Camp County, Gregg County, Upshur County). Traylor Russell, History of Titus County (2 vols., Waco: Morrison, 1965, 1966; rpt., n.p.: Walsworth, 1975).

Laurie E. Jasinski

Citation

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

Laurie E. Jasinski, "CHEROKEE TRACE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/exc06), accessed September 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.