Old Northwest Texas - Historical - Statistical - Biographical
Vols. I-A and I-B, Navarro County 1846-1860

Table of Contents


Research Bibliography



Old Northwest Texas (ONWT) was published in 1980 by Nancy Timmons Samuels and Barbara Roach Knox.  This two volume set contains a wealth of information concerning Navarro County and its settlers.  Though out of print, volumes sometimes appear on eBay and at Book and Paper shows.  Copies of ONWT are available for research at the Corsicana Library and the Pioneer Village.   The contents are under copyright and  therefore will not be posted.   The Table of Contents, listed below, will provide enough information to assist the researcher in determining what data is provided and which volume they will need to research.  This index is posted here with permission of Barbara Roach Knox and Nancy Timmons Samuels.

See: ‘Old Northwest Texas, Navarro County’ a solid read


Forward by Willard Heiss

PART ONE - Early History


  1. Background of Navarro County
    - Lineage
    - Creation
    - Surveyors and Indian Traders
    - The Power Structure
  2. The Texas Land System
  3. The Mercer Colony West of the Trinity
  4. Early Settlements
    Original Navarro County Area
    1. Bird's Fort
    2. Trading House Number One
    3. Bear Creek and Medlin's
    4. Red Oak
    5. Waxahachie
    6. Chambers and Upper Richland
         Creeks, Howe's, Smith's, Tarrant's, Milford
    7. South of the West Fork of the Trinity
    Present Navarro County Area
    8. Northeast Navarro
         Taos (Porter's Bluff), Chatfield, Upper Rush Creek, Bazette
    9. Central Navarro
         Richardson's (Corsicana), Beeman's Schoolhouse, Highnote Settlement
    10. Western Navarro
         Melton's (Richland, Dresden), Spring Hill
    11. Southern Navarro
         Richland Crossing, Pin Oak
    12. Southeastern Navarro
         Dunn's Schoolhouse (Hopewell), Lower Rush Creek, Rural Shade
    Present Hill and Johnson County Areas
  5. Fort Graham, Fort Worth, and the Indian Frontier
  6. Development of Navarro County
    Navarro County Namesake
    Organization and Early Government
    Early Officials
    County Seats
    Corsicana in 1850
    Around the Square, (1850-1852)
    Incorporation of Corsicana
    Navarro County Courthouse
    Corsicana in the 1850s
    Corsicana in 1860
  7. Early Voting Precincts
  8. Early Roads and Road Precincts
  9. Early Post Offices
  10. Early Churches
    Methodists in Original Navarro County
    Shiloh Cumberland and Presbyterian Church, Ellis County
    Corsicana Cumberland Presbyterian Church
    Liberty Hill Cumberland Presbyterian Church
    Old School Presbyterians
    Earliest Baptist in Original Navarro County
    Lonesome Dove Baptist Church, Tarrant County
    Society Hill Baptist Church
    Providence Baptist Church
    Corsicana Baptist Church
    Hopewell Baptist Church
    Present Ellis, Johnson, and Hill Counties
    Primitive Baptists
  11. Navigation on the Trinity


PART TWO - Federal Population Schedules, Navarro County

     Navarro County 1850
     Census Taker's Route Through Navarro County, 1850
     Navarro County, 1860

Section 1
     Heads of Households, 1850
     Heads of Households, 1860
Section 2
     An Alphabetical Arrangement of Families and Surnames, 1850
     An Alphabetical Arrangement of Families and Surnames, 1860



Notes and Biographical Sketches

APPENDIXES - Primary Source Data and Statistics

  1. Battle Creek or Surveyor's Fight, 1838, An Analysis
  2. Barksdale's Peters Colony Reports, (1844-1845)
  3. Navarro County Tax Rolls, (1846-1849)
  4. Cattle Brands, (1846-1850)
  5. Petition to Remove the Seat of Justice, (1847)
  6. Report of William Nicks Anderson, (1847)
  7. Jurors, (1849-1850)
  8. Nativity of Persons Aged Fifteen Years and Above, (1850)
  9. Occupations, (1850)
  10. Industries of Navarro District, (1850)
  11. Slave Schedules, (1850)
  12. Mortality Schedule, (1850)
  13. Social Statistics Schedule, Navarro District, (1850)
  14. Petition to Remove the Land Office, (1850)
  15. Persons Who Moved West Between 1850 and 1860
  16. Nativity of Persons Aged Fifteen Years and Above, (1860)
  17. Occupations, (1860)
  18. Slave Schedule, (1860)
  19. Mortality Schedule, (1860)
  20. Social Statistics Schedule, (1860)
  21. Industry Schedule, (1860)

Index (Name, Location, Topic)

Maps and Illustrations

Research Area of FWGS Project
Evolution of Old Northwest Texas
Northwest Texas, 1845
Counties Created by 1846
Robertson County, 1845
Northwest Texas Frontier, 1850
Original Land Districts
Mercer Colony, 1845
Settlements of Navarro District
Surveys, Pin Oak-Richland Crossing Area
Plan of Fort Graham, 1853
Lieutenant W.H.C. Whiting's Route, 1849
Plan of Fort Worth, 1853
Overlapping Surveys, Corsicana Areas
Plat of Original Corsicana
Sketch of the Court House, 1858
Early Voting Precincts: 1846-1848
Early Voting Precincts: 1848-1849
Early Voting Precincts: 1850
Texas, 1845 [1842]
Present Navarro County, Prior to 1860
Surveys, Taos-Chatfield-Post Oak Area
Surveys, Dunn's Schoolhouse Area
Surveys, Melton's-Spring Hill Area
Thomas and Mary Williams Monument Sketch
Sketch of the Battle Creek Monument


‘Old Northwest Texas, Navarro County’ a solid read

By Bill Young

Historic researchers in this area are very fortunate to have a set of books surpassed by few. “Old Northwest Texas, Navarro County, 1846-1860,” compiled by Nancy Samuels and Barbara Knox and published by the Tarrant County Genealogical Society, has got to be one of the best sets of research publications in the state. Any person wanting to do research on any family living within what used to be Navarro County absolutely needs access to these books. Printed back in 1980, needless to say, the set of books is out of print. A used set can be fairly expensive but the books can occasionally be found for sale either on the Internet or in a used book store.

Bruce McManus and I use these books constantly as one of our main resources for information about some of the earlier settlers when we are putting together information about a historical cemetery in Navarro County. I haven’t asked Mrs. Knox how long it took them to compile the information and get the books to the printer but it must have taken a number of years. Most of the material in the books deals more with genealogy than with history but there is a lot of history included. Volume I starts off with the earliest beginnings of Navarro County when we were part of Robertson County. Then the authors discuss what became Navarro County in 1846. For a few short years, Navarro County went from our present day southern border all the way past Fort Worth. During this time period, Navarro County included all or part of what is today 11 counties. Then the authors divided the next section into several categories. Early settlements, road precincts, early churches are a few and the 1850 and 1860 census lists are listed in the first volume. There isn’t an index in the back of Volume I so you need Volume II’s index to look for subject matter in either book.

Volume II has all of the biographical information about many of the early families living in the territory. Most of this material included in this volume was contributed by descendants of those listed families. However, the authors also compiled a lot of the material dealing with some of the early settlers. One of the most important factors in dealing with these two books is the fact the material is referenced and in some cases has multiple references. For researchers wanting to look up people or places for a Texas Historical Commission marker, this is an absolute necessity. For years, applications along with the narrations were submitted to the Historical Commission without many if any references. In many cases, this resulted in historical markers erected across the State with incorrect information. For instance, the Historical Commission will no longer accept any statement stating something is the oldest in an area or in the state. If you want to claim it to be the oldest, be prepared to prove without a shadow of a doubt, it is the oldest. The state wants to continue with the erection of the historical markers but they want them to be historically correct. The Samuels and Knox books furnish a lot of documented evidence to help prove some of those pertinent historical facts.

A number of the counties within Texas have published one or more volumes of history for their respective counties. Much of the information contained within these books is family history handed down from generation to generation. Needless to say, this passing along of information frequently gets embellished somewhere along the way. As each new generation receives the family history from an older member, little bits and pieces get changed. And generally speaking, most families tend to add something about their families which might make them appear to be a little bit more respectable or famous to the reader. Without proper references, the reader must use this information cautiously. It may or may not be totally correct! Once it is set down in writing, it becomes the gospel truth. Woe be to anyone who questions what was written!

Most researchers should try to follow what the state requires for markers or for that matter, cemeteries. A certain percentage, not stated, must be primary documents. Primary documents are usually legal documents such as deed records, death certificates, marriage records and court orders. Then you may include some secondary documents or references. However, all must be referenced back to something. You can include a few personal interviews with someone as long as it is noted as such. Don’t stick in something like John Brown heard from Jim Smith that George Washington crossed Richland Creek at Love Bridge. Hand-me-down info is just not well documented history. I will give you a good local example. For years, we have heard there is a cave on Pisgah Ridge known as the Belle Starr cave. Supposedly, Belle Starr hid out in this cave during her outlaw days. Many local citizens know she lived in Oklahoma and roamed that area but since we had a local story saying she hid out here, it might have been possible. Last year, Sidney Miller who owned the Palace Theater for many years informed the members of the Navarro County Historical Society at one of our meetings the Belle Starr cave story was a hoax. He and Alvie Taylor cooked up this story because a movie about Belle Starr was going to show at the Palace. They went out to the ridge and took a picture of one of the caves calling it the Belle Starr cave. Mr. Taylor who was an excellent photographer blew up the pictures and they were added to the marquee at the theater in an effort to increase the attendance at the movie. History in the making!

Another book I want to mention must be taken with a grain of salt. Titled “Lone Star State, History of Freestone, Henderson, Anderson, Navarro, Limestone and Leon Counties,” the book was published in 1893 by a company out of Chicago. This single publication is massive with over 900 pages and just like the Samuels and Knox books, hard to find and fairly expensive. The first 500 pages deal with the early history of each county and as far as I can tell, this information is probably accurate. The rest of the book is devoted to biographies of various people living or in some cases deceased at the time. The deceased people’s information was submitted by some descendant. This is both a good book and a dangerous book. Barbara Knox refers to this book as a mug book while I call it a brag book. Whenever the salesman for the book company came around in 1890 and 1891, he was looking for anyone who would pay to have information about his or her personage published in the book for a fee. I don’t have any idea what the cost was but I feel sure the fees ranged from a half page to several pages. Also included in the book are a few photographs of prominent people. There had to be an extra fee for this privilege. We have the same thing going on today. It isn’t uncommon for me to occasionally receive an e-mail from some company who is compiling a "Who’s Who in America" book. You can get in this book for a nominal fee. At a later date, I will discuss this book further. Once more I want to say thanks to Nancy Samuels and Barbara Knox for doing a great job in putting together a book about early Navarro County.


Bill Young is a Daily Sun columnist. His column appears Sundays.


Navarro County TXGenWeb
© Copyright March, 2009
Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox