Brooks' Saline

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Neches Saline, also known as Brooks Saline and Gardiner's Saline, was a small antebellum community north of the point of intersection of State Highway 155 and Farm Road 344 in extreme southwestern Smith County. The first visitor to the area was José Francisco Calahorra y Saenz, a Spanish missionary who traveled through in 1765 and mentioned the saline in his account of the journey. Early in the 1820s the Cherokee Indians, led by Chief Bowl in flight from hostile tribes in North Texas, became the first settlers. Both the Spanish and the Indians drew salt water from shallow wells on the plains and then allowed it to evaporate, leaving the salt. The first White pioneer in the vicinity was George W. Bays, who arrived in 1823. He left after the Fredonian Rebellion of December 1826. On February 27, 1827, the site was officially issued to William Bean, but the title was later canceled. Peter Ellis Bean got the grant on September 24, 1828.

By 1830 there were two trading posts on the salt plain, one belonging to Chates H. Simms and the other to James Hall. In March 1833 Bean signed a contract with Stephen Prather to start a salt business, but Prather died in June. Martin Lacy established a trading post and began operating the saltworks in 1836. At that time more than forty people lived in the community. After the fall of the Alamo in March 1836 these inhabitants retreated for a while to nearby Lacy's Fort. The next year the Texas Senate vetoed a treaty proposed by Sam Houston to deed the area to the Cherokees. A new trading post was established, and Chief Bowl and a Dr. DeBard became partners in the manufacture of salt. But relations between Whites and Indians were deteriorating. On October 5, 1838, eighteen Saline residents were killed or carried off, including several members of the Killough family. The Cherokees were blamed for the Killough Massacre, though they denied any participation. Gen. Thomas J. Rusk was ordered to end the conflict, but by March 1839 President Mirabeau B. Lamar had ordered the removal of the Cherokees and their allies; the Cherokee War resulted. Bowl was killed in battle on July 16, and by December the tribes agreed to evacuate.

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Vista K. McCroskey | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Brooks' Saline is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists

No

Place type

Brooks' Saline is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • (Neches Saline)

Has Post Office

No

Is Incorporated

No