An early history of Madison County, Texas



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Purpose: The purpose of this study has been to trace the early history of Madison County, Texas, from the days of its first Indian inhabitants, through its creation and organization in the 1850’s, to approximately the turn of the twentieth century. Presently, only limited literary efforts have been made to record the county’s history. As the older citizens of the country fade away and county documents of historical value are lost or destroyed by fire, it becomes difficult to uncover the facts as they occurred. This thesis was an effort to preserve highlights of the history of Madison County in writing. Methods: The methods used to obtain material for this study were: (1) examination of Madison County newspapers; (2) examination of several old scrapbooks on the history of Madison County; (3) examination of records at the Texas Archives, Austin, Texas; (4) examination of Texas history books periodicals and journals; (5) personal interviews with descendants of the early settlers of Madison County; (6) examination of various secondary sources. Findings: The evidence presented in this study suggests the following conclusions: 1. The area that later became known as Madison County was inhabited by Indians, probably as early as 500 A.D. The Bidai Indians, a branch of the Atakapans, lived beside Bedian Creek in what is now Madison County. Because of disease and Spanish intervention, the Bidai dwindled away, and in 1854 the remnants were moved to the Brazos Reservation. 2. Early explorers of the Madison County area were Luis de Moscoso, a Spaniard who had been an original member of the Hernando de Soto expedition, and Cavelier Sieur de La Salle, the famous French explorer, who according to one source was killed just south of the present site of Madisonville. In 1774, the first Spanish settlement was made along the Trinity River called Bucareli. The settlers were later forced to flee from the Indians and, consequently, they established the town of Nacogdoches on April 30, 1779. Trinidad, a Spanish garrison, was established in 1805 on the Trinity River, about three miles below the old Bucareli settlement. Later, it was the site where a small force of the Magee-Gutierrez expedition was murdered by the Spaniards. 3. Two historic old roads run through Madison County. The northern road that traversed the county east to west was known by three different names: Old San Antonio Road, El Camino Real and the King’s Highway. The lower road through the area broke away from the Old San Antonio Road somewhere between the Trinity River and the present town of Midway and continued in a southwesterly direction. It was known as the La Bahia Road. Each of these roads began as an east-west Indian trail. Today, the Old San Antonio is a modern highway that runs through Madison County. The La Bahia Road can be traced on old maps, but no physical trace remains in present day Madison County. 4. Madison County, like its northern neighbor, Leon County, was settled as a result of the western movement of 2840, although a few white settlers arrived in the early 1800’s. Probably the first permanent white settler was Major W. C. (Billy) Young from South Carolina. With a gun and a bag of belongings, Young settled at the site of present day Midway. After Texas gained its independence, settlers, in large numbers, moved to the area. 5. Madison County was created as a “judicial county� by an act of the Texas Congress in 1842; however, the act was later held to be unconstitutional because the county was not authorized at least one representative. Madison County was officially created by an act of the Texas Legislature on January 27, 1853. Later, it was organized on August 7, 1854, when Madisonville was established as the county seat. 6. Many small communities were settled in Madison County, but only three—Midway, Madisonvillle, and North Zulch—continued to grow. By the late 1800’s, schools and churches were established throughout the county. The railroad came to Madison County after a turn of the twentieth century.



Madison County, Texas--History, Settlers, Native American inhabidents, Bidai Indians, Atakapans Indians