A Short History of Red River County

The above monument, located on the town square, depicts the stagecoach travel through the area. It is just one example of all the historical significance of this part of Texas.

Red River County had its beginnings long before there was any major anglo settlement in other areas of Texas. Settlers began coming across the river from other areas and settled in places such as Jonesboro and Pecan Point as early as 1821. For a time this area was claimed by both Mexico and the United States. In pre-independence days Jonesboro was a main entry point into Texas. It is said that Sam Houston entered Texas there in 1832, and David Crockett entered in the winter of 1835-36.

In 1834, James Clark, a settler from Tennessee, left Jonesboro, and built a house and established the City of Clarksville. This later became the county seat. He built the first house, which was a two-room long cabin.

The first newspaper in North Texas was The Northern Standard, established in Clarksville in 1842 by Charles DeMorse. Born in Massachusetts, he came to Texas during the Texas Revolution. He was active in the Texas government prior to coming to Clarksville. He was a Confederate Army Colonel. After the Civil War, he dropped the word Northern from the title of the paper. It was published as The Standard till his death in 1887.

McKenzie College was established by Rev. J. W. P. McKenzie, who was a circuit Methodist minister. He started in a long cabin located four miles west of Clarksville. Later he opened a boarding school and expanded to four large buildings. As the college grew, it became known as one of the most prestigious colleges west of the Mississippi. Many teachers, preachers and physicians were educated here. It was closed in 1869.

When the Republic of Texas was established, Red River County was one of the original counties. The area was so large at that time that it contained all or part of 37 present day counties.

Red River County was well represented in the Civil War. In the summer of 1865 eleven volunteer units were formed to help defend the homeland. Over 400 Confederate veterans filed for pensions after the war. In 1890 the John C. Burks Camp of the United Confederate Veterans was established and reunions were held each year. Annual meetings were held at Reunion Park at Clarksville for a period of about forty years. In 1930 six charter members were still alive. A statue of a Confederate Soldier was placed in the center of the Clarksville square in 1920 and remains there today.

During the last part of the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth century, settlers continued to pour into Texas. Many times Red River County was the first place they entered, and some stayed there. Some stayed for a while and moved on to other areas.