Flag Springs

By: Steve M. King

Type: General Entry

Published: January 1, 1995

Flag Springs is a popular spring-fed watering hole and cow camp on the Fort Worth-Fort Belknap road and an unnamed tributary of Salt Creek, ten miles east of Fort Belknap and three miles north of Graham in central Young County. A large pool at the spring, twelve feet in diameter, is fed by a constant flow out of Cisco sandstone. A smaller pool, four feet by two feet and thirty inches deep, has long provided water to wayfarers. Plains Indians camped by the watering hole as they ranged through the northern end of the Cross Timbers hunting deer and following buffalo down from the Great Plains. The remains of a bedrock metate and evidence of paleolithic campsites may still be seen at the spring.

After an attack by Indians on Company G of the Frontier Regiment on Salt Creek Prairie on September 13, 1864, Lt. William R. Peveler sought refuge at the small settlement by the springs, bearing some seventeen wounds. The nearest physician, summoned from Palo Pinto, performed surgery with implements forged at the springs. On Monday, April 10, 1865, as the Young County government began to falter, the commissioners' court voted to remove the county records and papers from the courthouse at Belknap and place them for safekeeping at the stone stable at Flag Springs. Whether the records were ever actually hidden there is unclear. During the roundup in July 1870 J. B. "Blue" Terrell and eleven other cowboys camped at the springs were attacked by Indians. Some ten days before, the same group had lost forty-five horses to the Indians at Lost Valley Pens on Salt Creek Prairie. This time the cowboys were better prepared and recovered ten to twelve horses from the Indians. In August 1878 horse fanciers in the area organized a jockey club in Graham and built a racetrack east of the springs. The springs were used to keep the refreshments cool. Races were held on regular occasions, with prize purses as high as $400 and occasional sweepstakes. The last race on the original track was held in 1905. In the 1920s oil-exploration and road crews blasted out much of the natural dam at the springs, lowering the water level to three feet in the large pool.

This spring is not to be confused with Flag Springs in Archer County, visited by Randolph B. Marcy during his 1849 expedition.

Gunnar Brune, Springs of Texas, Vol. 1 (Fort Worth: Branch-Smith, 1981). Benjamin Capps, The Warren Wagontrain Raid (New York: Dial, 1974). Carrie J. Crouch, Young County: History and Biography (Dallas: Dealey and Love, 1937; rev. ed., A History of Young County, Texas, Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1956). Joseph Carroll McConnell, West Texas Frontier (Vol. 1, Jacksboro, Texas, 1933; Vol. 2, Palo Pinto, Texas, 1939). J. W. Wilbarger, Indian Depredations in Texas (Austin: Hutchings, 1889; rpt., Austin: State House, 1985).

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

Steve M. King, “Flag Springs,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/flag-springs.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995