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JONESBOROUGH, TEXAS. Jonesborough and Pecan Point share the distinction of being the first Anglo-American settlements in Texas. Located just above the mouth of Lower Pine Creek upon the site of later Davenport in what is now Red River County, Jonesborough was named for Henry Jones, who hunted on the Red River as early as 1815. Among other settlers who were living in the vicinity as early as the spring of 1817 were Adam Lawrence, Caleb Greenwood, William Hensley, William Cooper, and John Ragsdale. Authentic sources make it fairly clear that Lawrence and Hensley located there in the winter of 1815.
Before 1820 a number of other families, including those headed by John Robbins, Hiram and A. Tidwell, John Styles, and James Walters, joined the Jonesborough settlement. The expulsion of settlers north of the Red River by United States troops increased the population of the Jonesborough prairie after 1821, and the number was further augmented by the dissolution of Miller Countyqv, Arkansas Territory, in 1825. Many prominent pioneers of North Texas then crossed the river to become permanently identified with Jonesborough. On the other hand, a number of Jonesborough residents left for Stephen F. Austin's colony in 1822 and 1823, John Rabb, Daniel Gilliland, and Joseph Newmanqqv being among the emigrants.
In 1832 Jonesborough was chosen county seat of Miller County, which was situated wholly on the south side of the Red River after 1828. The community flourished since it was at the head of steam navigation and a number of merchants and trading companies had establishments there. Best known were those of George W. Wright and James F. Johnston, Thad W. Riker and Company, Williamson and Bowerman, and William M. Harrison. Abraham Mittower was the leading physician.
Capt. John Hart recruited a company of riflemen for service in the Texas Revolution in 1836, but the Jonesborough men arrived too late to take part in the fighting; however, Gen. Sam Houston made them responsible for guarding captured Mexican general Antonio López de Santa Anna. James Clark, the tavern keeper, had entertained many personalities of the revolution, including Sam Houston and Ben Milam.
Jonesborough was incorporated by the Congress of Texas in 1837, although Clarksville, the county seat, was taking many of its citizens. As late as 1841 Jonesborough retained some of its former activity, but the gradual westward movement of the frontier drew the trading companies to sites up the river. Jefferson became a more convenient entrepôt for commodities, and Doaksville, across the river, monopolized the Indian trade of the Choctaw Nation. Still the fertile prairies, cultivated by slave labor, produced huge quantities of cotton. The great freshet of 1843 ruined the buildings and shifted the channel of the river a mile to the north of the old site.
In 1950 nothing remained of Jonesborough save a half dozen cottonwood stumps leaning over the former bank of the river where, traditionally, steamboats were tied up in the period of major activity, 1832–43. Davenport occupies the location of Jonesborough but historically has no bonds of unity with the first village. Historical markers for the site of Jonesborough stand on the north side of Farm Road 410 six miles northwest of Blakeney.
BIBLIOGRAPHY:T. Lindsay Baker, Ghost Towns of Texas (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Rex W. Strickland, "Jonesborough, TX," accessed April 24, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hvj16.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.