Wednesday, September 13, 2006
International Boundary Marker Ceremony
The Sons of the Republic of Texas (SRT) will dedicate a Texas historical marker on Saturday, October 7, 2006, 2 PM, at the site of the only known international boundary marker between the Republic of Texas and the United States. The boundary marker, set into the ground on April 23, 1841, marks the officially recognized boundary between the Republic of Texas and the United States. Located on TX Farm Road 31 and LA State Hwy. 765 between Deadwood, Texas, and Logansport, Louisiana, the boundary marker sets on the line of adjacent tracts of land owned by the Texas Historical Foundation and the DeSoto Parish Historical Society. The Panola County Historical Commission worked with those entities and the Texas Historical Commission for approval of the historical marker.
Ron Stone, Professor of Texas History at Houston Baptist University and a former television news anchorman from Houston, will serve as emcee. Stone is also an honorary member of The Sons of the Republic of Texas and a Knight of the Order of San Jacinto, the highest honor that the organization bestows upon an individual for outstanding service in the cause of Texas heritage. Mr. Raymond Powell, past president and current board member of the DeSoto Parish Historical Society, will speak about the history of the boundary marker and preservation of the historic site. The SRT will recognize historians from Panola County, Texas, and DeSoto Parish, Louisiana, for their work in obtaining recognition for this historic site. The event is expected to draw attendance by historical and heritage societies from both states, as well as individuals interested in Texas and U.S. history.
Texas Historical Commission member Bob Bowman of Lufkin, author of 30 books about East Texas, provided the following excerpts about the international boundary marker:
“The marker established the boundary between Texas and Louisiana, but there was a time when the border underwent contests between France, Spain, the U.S. and the Republic of Texas. Before there was a Texas, both France and Spain claimed the region on both sides of the Sabine River--an area known as the “neutral ground” or “no man’s land” because of early explorations by both nations. French explorers claimed all land drained by the Mississippi River and its tributaries as Louisiana Territory. Spain claimed all southern lands beginning with the first watershed west of the Mississippi. The dispute arose over claims that the “first watershed” was the Sabine or the Atchafalaya River. As a result the land between the two rivers was claimed by both nations. When the U.S. purchased the Louisiana territory in 1803 and inherited France’s claims, the U.S. and Spain agreed that the disputed strip would be neutral territory until an agreement could be reached by the two nations.
The strip soon became a refuge for outlaws and deserters seeking to avoid the laws of any government, leading to the violent Regulator-Moderator War in Shelby and surrounding counties. The boundary was further confused in 1819 when the U.S. purchased Florida from Spain and a new, tentative agreement established the Sabine as the international boundary. Texas, at the time, was still Spanish territory, but became a part of Mexico when Mexico won its independence from Spain. When the Republic of Texas was born in 1836, it became a matter of urgency to mark the actual boundary between the Republic and the U.S. A joint commission was established in 1838 to survey and map the land along the boundary.
W.J. Stone, a young engineer, was commissioned by President Martin Van Buren to perform the task “with all speed and accuracy.” The work was scheduled for completion in 1840, but wasn’t actually finished until 1841. The western bank of the Sabine was mapped and marked as the boundary from its mouth to the 32nd parallel, just north of Logan’s Ferry (today’s Logansport). To establish the line, a granite shaft was driven into the ground near the river. Three miles north, a second shaft was set. Each mile between the two shafts was marked by an earthen mound containing bottled information and a wooden mileage pole. With the passage of time and a crumbling river bank, the shaft on the Sabine was lost.
The remaining marker on Farm Road 31 was damaged in the l920s by loggers, but was repaired and still stands about 50 yards off the highway between Deadwood and Logansport. The landmark carries three simple inscriptions. On the south side are the words, “Merid. Boundary Established 1840.” On the east side, it reads: “U.S.” and on the west side are the letters, “R.T.” for Republic of Texas. An illegal trophy collector tried to dig up the marker in the 1970s, but gave up when he discovered it had a concrete foundation of ten to fourteen feet. Apparently, someone in the past wanted to make darned sure the marker wasn’t going anywhere.”
To reach the marker site from central and northern Panola County, Texas, drive two miles south of Carthage on U.S. Highway 59 S to TX Farm Road 2517, travel east on Farm Road 2517 approximately 10 miles to TX Farm Road 31, and follow Farm Road 31 to the southeast about nine miles to the Texas/Louisiana state line. Or, from U. S. Highway 84 in Logansport, Louisiana, drive north on Louisiana State Highway 764 for about three miles to the intersection with Louisiana State Highway 765, and follow Hwy. 765 northwest about two miles to the Louisiana/Texas state line. The roadside area is on the north side of the highway.
The Sons of the Republic of Texas
Billy Johnson, Past President General
David Hanover, Secretary General
Photograph: American and Texas Flags © Cjwright | Dreamstime.com