The Historic Trammel’s Trace

Back when Texas was in the hands of Mexico and then later when we won independence and became a republic, there was only one entrance to the state from the north—Trammel’s Trace.

The path was located in far East Texas where the land is very rugged, wet and heavily wooded.

Trammel's Trace Marker2

Arkansas trader and horse smuggler, Nicholas Trammel, used the old Native American footpath that was hundreds of years old for his smuggling operations beginning in 1813. Trammel was a bit of a scoundrel by all accounts. He was accused of murder, plunder and thievery but was never caught.

Trammel's Trace1

The trace ran 180 miles north from Nacogdoches, TX to Fulton, Arkansas. Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, James Bowie and countless others used the route. And it was very crucial to the War for Independence and later during the Spanish-American War.

Road Ruts
Road Ruts

Trammel’s Trace was printed on maps of the 19th century and provided an important immigration route into Texas for waves of settlers from Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky.

After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 to 1813, the route was known as Robber’s Road. That name came about because (1) it was heavily forested and (2) it became a haven for outlaws of all sorts.

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The reason Trammel’s Trace ended at Nacogdoches—the route connected with El Camino Real (or Old San Antonio Road) and there was no need to move farther south.

I’ve walked on portions of this vital road and felt as though I trod in the footsteps of so many brave people who came to settle this wild land. Without them I wouldn’t be here.

Do you think you’d have been brave enough to travel this road? I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one person who comments.

(Credit for the first two of these amazing photos goes to Gary Pinkerton – Visit him: )

Sticking With History

When writing historical novels, there’s always a balance between historically accurate and what many readers assume is historically accurate. History is not, in most cases, written in stone. For instance, the cowboy of song and story was much different in reality than in legend. Most cowboys were scruffy, illiterate, and often plagued with STD’s. Not to mention alcoholism was rampant. Not exactly John Wayne.

Native Americans once numbered somewhere near 100 million. Sometime after Columbus (surprise!) a massive plague wiped out 90% of the population, leaving 1 million Native Americans along with their rich, extensive culture still roaming the Americas. Their numbers were further decimated by smallpox, STD’s (thanks, cowboys) and genocide during the frontier period in America.

wild west town

The Wild West may not be nearly as wild as books and legend suggest. Rumor has it that Wild Bill was fired from Buffalo Bill’s show because his voice sounded too feminine. His nickname referred to his nose and he was originally dubbed ‘Duck Bill’. (Wild Bill sounds much more manly.) Billy the Kid claimed he killed 20 people, though historians put the number at closer to 4.

The Shootout in the OK Corral actually took place in a back alley and lasted about 30 seconds. I guess Shootout at the Back Alley didn’t play well with theater audiences. Historians once estimated the actual number of bank robberies in the old west at about a dozen. Homicide rates in the old west were lower than they are today – from 1870-1885 Dodge City had about .6 murders a year. Gun control was rigidly enforced Tombstone. Laws prohibited the carrying of firearms.

There you have it – the wild west wasn’t nearly as wild as we’d like to think. Although, when I write Westerns, my cowboys are handsome and honorable, banks are robbed early and often, and outlaws are super bad. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of The Cattleman Meets His Match, 4 1/2 stars from Romantic Times Magazine. Susan Mobley says, The characters are delightful and play well off one another.

The Cattleman Meets His Match

Here’s a fun youtube video on five common historical misconceptions:


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