County, East Texas
Nogallis Prairie, Nogalus, & Prairie View
Farm Road 357
13 miles NE of Groveton
Population 106 (2000)
Hotel Here > Lufkin
The names of some East
Texas towns can be downright confusing. And much of the confusion arises from
mispronunciations which, during the passage of time, have become actual names.
for example, the name Nogalus Prairie in Trinity County.
suggests the name originated when two horse thieves were hung from the branch
of a large tree because the community had "no gallows."
While a morsel
of truth may lie in the story, Clell Davis of Trinity County helped shed some
light on the community's real origin.
The community was originally named
Nogales Prairie because of the walnut and pecan trees that grew there when
Texas was still a province of Mexico and Spanish families lived in the area. Nogales
is Spanish for walnut and sometimes pecan.
When the first European settlers
came to the area, they spelled the name like it sounded, and Nogales became Nogallis.
The first post office opened in 1858 as Nogallis Prairie. In the late 1800s,
it was sometimes called Logallis Prairie, but in 1894 the post office was
known as Nogalus Prairie.
No less than John
Wesley Hardin, the preacher's son and outlaw who spent a lot of time in Trinity
County, mentioned the name in his autobiography, "The Life of John Wesley Hardin."
Hardin shot and killed a former slave near Moscow
in Polk County in the fall of 1868 and was on the run from federal reconstruction
His brother Joe was teaching school "on Logallis Prairie, about
twenty-five miles north of Sumpter" and John Wesley
When Joe also told him that federal troops were coming to
arrest him, Hardin waylaid and killed three soldiers in a bed of a deep creek.
He buried the bodies in the creek bed about 100 yards from where the fight occurred.
Some 55 years ago, as a young boy growing up at Nogalus Prairie, Clell Davis was
walking along a creek bed and found some bones. "That night at supper, I told
my father about it, and he told me that his grandfather, Alexander Davis, told
him that back in the l800s, a man shot three men and buried them near the creek
bed," said Davis.
"The story really got my attention, but for some reason
I never went back to look for the bones and, after 55 years, I had almost forgotten
about it until I read Hardin's book," said Davis.
Today, however, the
creek has been dammed and a pond covers the site. "A short distance from there,
you can see the old roadbed where it used to cross the creek, and I believe this
is where John Wesley Hardin shot the Union soldiers and where they were buried,"
As far as hangings are concerned at Nogalus, there were a
number that occurred in the vicinity during and after the Civil War. During that
time, a large group of Civil War deserters were camped in the community when they
were chased down and hung from convenient tree limbs.
From the 1840s to
about 1900, Nogalus Prairie was a "fair sized community," said Davis. From 1900
to 1918, the community had a Methodist church, several stores and saloons, a cotton
gin, grist mill, and a Woodmen of the World lodge.
The post office closed
in 1920 and today Nogalus is mostly a dispersed rural community. Its last population
figure in 2000 was 106.
April 2, 2007
Distributed by the East Texas Historical Association. Bob Bowman
of Lufkin is a former president of the Association and the author of more than
30 books about East Texas.
County 1907 Postal map showing Nogalus |
"N" in "TRINITY")
Courtesy Texas General Land Office
Nogalus Prairie, Texas
The Davis side of my family
were living on this Prairie from the middle of the 1800s. My dad and grandfather
related the no Gallows story to me. Clell Davis providing some of the information
given and is my cousin. The parts that does not completely fit or still remains
unexplained is that my grandmother Irene Davis and my dad Sam Davis, when he was
young, went to wash clothes at the Spring which was near where Claude Davis eventually
had a store. At that time near the spring, there were 3 graves marked by rusty
muskets with rusty bayonets. This was in the area where John Wesley Hardin killed
the 3 soldiers chasing him. - Jerry Davis, Hot Springs, AR, August 16, 2012
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