Alabama Trace

By: Howard N. Martin

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: September 6, 2018

The Alabama Trace was an Indian trail that extended from a point on the Old San Antonio Road about three miles west of what is now San Augustine, Texas, to the Lower Coushatta Village (Colita's Village) on the Trinity River in what is now San Jacinto County. The route of this trail is shown on Stephen F. Austin's memorandum for a map of Texas in 1827. Surveyors' passing calls in field notes for original land surveys in selected East Texas counties confirm the location of this trail, which passed through four Alabama Indian village sites in the Texas counties of Angelina, Tyler, and Polk. From the Old San Antonio Road this trail went southwest through an Alabama village on the Angelina River near the junction of this river and Attoyac Bayou, and then crossed the Neches River at the Spanish-designated "pass to the south," where Fort Terán was constructed in 1831. The next important locations on the Alabama Trace were the Cane Island Village and the Peachtree Village of the Alabamas in northwestern Tyler County, after which the trail crossed into eastern Polk County and went south along the east side of Bear Creek, passed through an abandoned Alabama village on what is now the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation, went through a prominent Indian campground at the junction of Big Sandy Creek and Bear Creek, and from this point went on south to terminate at the Colita Village of the Coushatta Indians on the Trinity River. The Alabama Trace was used extensively not only by Indians but also by illegal immigrants and contraband traders who entered Spanish Texas from Louisiana on the Old San Antonio Road. They found that they could avoid Spanish military patrols operating from Nacogdoches by using out-of-the-way trails such as the Alabama Trace to bypass Nacogdoches. During the Republic of Texas period, Samuel T. Belt began operating a ferry across the Neches River at the Fort Terán site. Stagecoaches traveling from Houston to San Augustine went via Montgomery, Swartwout, Livingston, and the Fort Terán site, and then used a segment of the Alabama Trace for the remainder of the trip to San Augustine.

Ellen Marshall, Some Phases of the Establishment and Development of Roads in Texas, 1718–1845 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1934). Howard N. Martin, "Polk County Indians: Alabamas, Coushattas, Pakana Muskogees," East Texas Historical Journal 17 (1979). Stephen F. Austin's Memorandum for a Map of Texas, 1827 (S. F. Austin Collection, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin).

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

Howard N. Martin, “Alabama Trace,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 14, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 6, 2018