"Working to Preserve and Promote the Historic and
Cultural Resources of McCulloch County, Texas"
"The Frontier Forts of Texas." Texas Almanac <http://texasalmanac.com/topics/frontier-forts-texas>.
Spiller, Wayne. The Handbook of McCulloch County History. Vol. I. Seagraves, Texas: Pioneer Publishing, 1976.
EARLY HISTORY OF McCULLOCH COUNTY, TEXAS
The area now known as McCulloch County was once a part of Bexar County, one of 23 original counties that encompassed most of the western portion of the Republic of Texas. The present county was formed in 1856 by the Sixth Legislature and named after Ben McCulloch, a Texas hero who may have never actually set foot inside its boundaries.
After following fellow Tennessean David Crockett into Texas, McCulloch (1811-1862) distinguished himself at the Battle of San Jacinto, as a Texas Ranger, and in the Indian and Mexican wars. When the Civil War began, he left his office as U.S. Marshall to command Confederate troops in Arkansas but was killed by a sniper’s bullet early in the war.
Prior to 1856 and continuing until after the Civil War, efforts by early settlers to develop the area were often thwarted by the hardships of the frontier and encounters with hostile Indian tribes, especially the Comanche and the Kiowa. In 1831, an Indian battle fought in the Calf Creek area of present McCulloch County resulted in a party led by James Bowie, later an Alamo hero, claiming to have defeated almost 100 Indians. During the early 1850’s a flurry of fort building began, and by 1853 about one-third of the U.S. Army was stationed in Texas.
Although a frontier fort was never established in McCulloch County, heavily traveled military roads traversed the area. One of the roads utilized by U.S. troops on Indian patrol, such as those under the command of Robert E. Lee, passed near an ancient Indian campground that became known as Soldier’s Waterhole. The site also became a popular camping and watering spot with civilian travelers and settlers and, in the late 1850’s, was the scene of a fierce struggle between eighteen settlers and Indians. All the settlers died and were buried nearby by U.S. troops.
Still largely raw frontier and undeveloped, McCulloch County did not send a representative to the Secession Convention of 1861. Its focus continued to be maintaining control of the territory wrested from the Indians and developed despite the harshness of the frontier. During the Civil War period, a camp of “rangers,” part of Col. J.E. McCord’s regiment serving in Capt. N. D. McMillian’s company of San Saba, quartered at the site now known as Camp San Saba. Made up of men from McCulloch and surrounding counties, the company’s primary purpose was to protect the area from Indians. Most of them finally became members of the Confederate Forty-sixth Texas Cavalry and were sent to Harrisburg, Texas. Troops of “minute men” were then organized to protect the Camp San Saba area.
Following the Civil War, U.S. troops were once again in Texas and large groups of settlers, including many from southern states as well a significant number of Swedes, began settling McCulloch County and its development as a ranching and agricultural community began in earnest.