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  Texas : Features : Columns : All Things Historical

FORT BOGGY
Fort Boggy State Park

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman
Texas historians never gave Fort Boggy much more than a few sentences, but today it has something to make up for the years of benign neglect: Texas' first new state park in six years.

Located along Interstate 45 near Centerville, the county seat of Leon County, Fort Boggy State Park derives its name from an 1840s log fort built by early settlers on the north side of Boggy Creek, a tributary of the Trinity River, about two miles north of Leona.

Until now, Fort Boggy was remembered only by a 1936 Texas Centennial marker and nine lines in the six-volume Handbook of Texas.

The fort was built by the Texas Rangers to protect East Texas settlers from Indians who controlled much of the territory. Some seventy-five people lived in eleven homes and two blockhouses while the Rangers patrolled an area between the Navasota and Trinity rivers.

Republic of Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar sent Captain Thomas Greer to head up the protective force, but he was killed in 1841 while tracking down Indian raiders.

The first settlements on Leon Prairie grew up around Fort Boggy and the first store in the area was opened there by Moses Campbell. Thomas Garner built the first sawmill.

After years of conflict, the Indians living around Fort Boggy fled to Mexico and Indian territory. Several years later, hardships and illness forced the settlers from Fort Boggy as well

By 1941, Fort Boggy had been dropped from Texas maps, but through the persistence of local residents and a gift of 1,847 acres of land by Leon County resident Eileen Crain Sullivan in 1985, after letting her family's ranchland sit idle for 60 years and revert to its natural state, the historic site is back on the maps -- this time as a scenic state park. At present, only one section of the park, the day-use area, has been developed. However, the public has access to much of the park's scenery via hiking trails.

Anchoring the day-use area is a iron ore rock and hand-hewn pine pavilion built to resemble the structures erected in Texas parks in the l930s by prison inmates working for the Civilian Conservation Corps. All that remains of Fort Boggy today is a wooden shack and its weathered Centennial marker, but the lack of historical relics is offset by the area's archeological and biological diversity.

Researchers have documented human occupancy in the Boggy Creek vicinity dating from 10,000 B.C. to 6000 B.C. and biologists have identified more than 700 species within the park's boundaries, including the rare Centerville Brazos mint plant that grows in alluvial sands. Abundant wildlife includes white-tailed deer, raccoons, foxes, beaver and squirrels.

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All Things Historical January 29, 2004 Column
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers
Published with permission
(This column is provided as a public service by the East Texas Historical Association. Bob Bowman is a former president of the Association and author of 30 books on East Texas.)

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