Warren, Abel (1814–1882)

By: Brian Hart

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: October 1, 1995

Abel Warren, early trader, was born on September 19, 1814, in Northborough, Massachusetts. Educated in that community's schools, he set out for adventure in the American Southwest at age twenty-one. Warren arrived in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1835 and, hearing stories of the potentially lucrative Indian trade from hunters and trappers, decided to establish a trading post on the upper Red River. The next year, accompanied by a group of adventurers and Indian guides, Warren ventured into Texas and constructed a post on the south bank of the Red River, a mile below Choctaw Bayou in what became extreme northwestern Fannin County. Warren's party erected a stockade and storehouse and immediately began to bargain for hides and furs with the Indians who ventured to the post. The operation met with little success, however, as the majority of the Plains Indians with whom Warren hoped to deal were located too far west to visit the post with any regularity. The arrival of Anglo-American settlers in the area reduced the likelihood of Indians venturing to the post. The trading post was abandoned in 1836 or 1837, and its founder returned to Fort Smith. Warren's name remained, however, as that of the first seat of Fannin County. It is likely that a settlement which developed around his old post was named Warren. In 1837 Warren made another attempt to establish a trading post, this time north of the Red River. He constructed this second operation near the mouth of Walnut Creek in what is now Love County, Oklahoma, and operated it for about eleven years. Warren opened yet another trading post in 1847 or 1848 near the mouth of Cache Creek in what became Cotton County, Oklahoma. Like his first venture, this post lasted only a short time. While Warren returned to Northborough, Massachusetts, in 1847 or 1848 to marry his childhood sweetheart, to whom he had been engaged for some ten years, his partner sold the business and made off with the profits from the sale. Learning of this in Massachusetts, Warren apparently felt no compelling need to return to the Southwest, so he remained in New England for some five years. He and his wife returned to the area in 1852. After working for a time as a contractor with the Choctaw Agency at Skullyville in the Indian Territory, he moved to the Fort Smith area and evidently operated a farm some eighteen miles south of the city. He returned to Skullyville in 1856 and made his living as a planter until 1859. Warren remained in the Indian Territory during the Civil War, though he sent his wife and children back to Massachusetts. After the war he lived in Fort Smith and on his farm south of the city until his death in 1882.

Rex Wallace Strickland, "History of Fannin County, Texas, 1836–1843," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 33, 34 (April, July 1930). Joseph B. Thoburn and Muriel H. Wright, Oklahoma (4 vols., New York: Lewis Historical Publishing, 1929).

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

Brian Hart, “Warren, Abel,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 20, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/warren-abel.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 1, 1995