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.
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