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FORT DAVIS

FORT DAVIS (Stephens County). When Camp Cooper closed in February 1861 as Union troops were withdrawn from the frontier, several white families remained along the Clear Fork of the Brazos River in what is now northern Shackelford and southern Throckmorton counties. After the Elm Creek Raid by Comanches in October of 1864, in which several people were killed and three were kidnapped, several families decided to gather in a common location for protection against the Indians. On October 20, 1864, a stronghold called Fort Davis was established just across the county line in Stephens County. It was only one of several such "forts" along the frontier.

The post was located on the east side of the Clear Fork about fifteen miles downriver from Camp Cooper. It measured about 300 by 325 feet, and a street ran through it from east to west. About twenty picket-style houses with dirt roofs were set so as to form a loose stockade. A picket stockade fence around the entire fort was begun but never completed. A large stone house built earlier at the location served to anchor one corner of the works and provided protection for women and children in case of attack. Although an attack never materialized, inhabitants did have several confrontations with the hostiles in the area around the outpost. In 1865 Sam Newcomb opened a school in a structure on the northeast corner. Supplies for the inhabitants had to be freighted in by wagon from Weatherford, to the east, a dangerous journey of some days over poor roads. Originally, the flag of the Confederacy flew over Fort Davis but was destroyed by lightning and not replaced.

Fort Davis was abandoned in 1867 when Union troops returned to the area to establish Fort Griffin on the Clear Fork about ten miles upriver, a site much preferred to the unsatisfactory one further upriver where Camp Cooper was earlier located. Today the site of Fort Davis is owned jointly by H. G. Law and the Jones Company of Albany. The stone structure has been restored by Joe Carlton as a hunting lodge. The tombstone of Sam Newcomb is still visible near the site.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Mrs. L. E. Farmer, "Fort Davis on the Clear Fork of the Brazos," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 33 (1957). Marilynne Housely, "Forting Up on the Texas Frontier during the Civil War," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 17 (1941). John Chadbourne Irwin, Autobiography (MS, Richardson Library, Hardin-Simmons University). Sallie Reynolds Matthews, Interwoven: A Pioneer Chronicle (Houston: Anson Jones, 1936; 4th ed., College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982). Samuel Newcomb, Diary (MS, Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University). Susan Newcomb, Diary (MS, Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University).

Lawrence Clayton

Citation

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

Lawrence Clayton, "FORT DAVIS," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/uef18), accessed August 27, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.