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 Texas : Features : Columns : All Things Historical

The Cherokee Line

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman
The Cherokee Boundary Line, an important part of East Texas, finally got the recognition it deserves recently in a ceremony on a oiltop road north of Canton.

Officials of the Van Zandt County Historical Commission, joined by two members of the Texas Historical Commission, dedicated a Texas Historical Marker telling the story of the boundary line, which once marked the boundary between Indian lands and Texas, running from near Alto northward to the Sabine River.

The Cherokees, who called themselves Ani-Yunwiya, the "principal people," once were one of the foremost Indian nations of the U.S.

Cherokee society reflected an elaborate social and political structure built around a town ran by a council dominated by older men. The Cherokees also had their own written language.

The Cherokee land grant once occupied parts of Van Zandt, Gregg, Wood, Smith, Rusk and Cherokee counties and bordered six other counties.

Boundaries were determined in a treaty with the Cherokees, but in 1839, after years of conflict, the Republic of Texas drove many of the Cherokees into Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).

In 1844, surveyor William Angus ran a 38-mile-long line from the Neches river west of Alto to the Sabine River. Officials later used the line as the starting place for other early surveys, including one creating Van Zandt County.

The new historical marker stands at the junction of the Cherokee line and the Old Dallas-Shreveport Road on Van Zandt County Road 1117.

The marker is the eighth to be placed along the Old Dallas-Shreveport Road to identify and preserve the history of significant locations, events and people who have added to the rich history of Van Zandt County.

And, today, near the Oklahoma town of Tahlequah, the history of the Cherokees has been preserved with a tribal museum and other tributes to their rich history.
All Things Historical
November 23, 2008 Column.
Published with permission
A weekly column syndicated in 70 East Texas newspapers

(Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of 40 books about East Texas. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com)

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