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Young County History 1922

Soon after the establishment of Fort Belknap and Phantom Hill a grand enterprise was inaugurated by the State and Federal governments in conjunction. It was thought that the native tribes of Texas were entitled to a domicile in the state on some of its vast unoccupied domain in order to reclaim them from the savage conditions by in­ struction in the arts of civilization. The Legislature set apart about 55,000 acres of land to be reserved to the United States for this purpose. Two agencies were located, one the Brazos Agency on the main Brazos River close to Fort Belknap, and the other fifty miles south­ west, on the Clear Fork in Shackelford County. The latter agency was called Camp Cooper. All the Caddo tribes, together with the Nomadic and Pacific Tonkawas, were placed upon the Brazos Agency. The southern Comanches, the dread scourge of the Texan frontier, were placed at Camp Cooper. This attempt at civilizing the Indian failed. Some reprobate Indians at the Reserve occasionally got away and indulged in a marauding expedition among the white settlements, and the crime, when traced to the agency, because of the difficulty of fixing it upon the responsible parties, was laid to the whole tribe. Then, too, the robberies and murders committed by the wild tribes outside the Reservation confines were often charged to the agency tribes. Further, the reserves on the Clear Fork and the Brazos were located in a region possessing unexcelled grazing facilities, and the Texas stock raisers, in constantly increasing numbers, braved the dangers of Indian attacks and brought their herds to fatten upon the rich pasturage. The Reserve Indians were accused of committing depredations as well as hostiles, and a conflict ensued in which a number were killed. The result was that the experiment of domiciling the Texas tribes within the state was abandoned, and in August. 1859, Major George H. Thomas of the United States army, transferred the tribes to the Indian Territory. It was this removal which incensed the Texas Indians and became the signal for the series of depredations which devastated the Texas frontier for many years.

With the beginning of the Civil war, the western posts were abandoned, and that gave an opportunity for the Indians to press their attacks with greater vigor than ever. Under the Confederate government a regiment of troops was stationed on the frontier, but it was insufficient for adequate protection. Before the beginning of the war it was reported that the Indians had been scourging Young County, and during the persistent warfare that followed, the country was largely depopulated and the settlements receded so far that Belknap was almost isolated. In October, 1864, a large party of three or four hundred Indians raided the settlements adjacent to Fort Belknap and murdered several families and drove off a number of horses. That was probably the immediate cause for the abandonment of county organization.

Beside the military post at Fort Belknap the route of the Overland Southern Pacific Mail lay through Young County, and the line of stages went through Fort Belknap from 1858 until the opening of the war. Because of the military post and the location on this over­ land route, and notwithstanding that Young County was thirty or more miles west of Parker and Wise, it received a great influx of settlers throughout the '50s, so that for years afterwards it main­ tained its pre-eminence among the surrounding counties. A Belknap correspondent in 1859 says : "We have in town five dry goods stores. one hotel, several public buildings, two blacksmith shops, one wagon shop and 'nary' grocery."



33° 6' 25.416" N, 98° 35' 22.2" W