Book Review | “Trammel’s Trace”

Review By
Francene DePrez

trammel's traceMany years ago, we hosted the Trammel’s Trace Rendezvous at Diamond Don RV Park for Mountainmen portraying the early 1800’s.  At the time, Gary Pinkerton had a dormant website,  I called him and asked if we could have the site to promote our Rendezvous.  He graciously consented. After a few years, we stopped having the event because we had so many fall burn bans.  Gary had planned to write this book for many years and finished the book in 2016. By that time, the website was dormant again, so Gary asked me to transfer it back so he could use to promote his book. 

This is an interesting back story to this book and I have wanted to read it for some time.  If you enjoy history of the area around Jefferson, you must read this book. The inside cover explains that “Trammel’s Trace, named for Nicholas Trammell, was the first route from the United States into the northern boundaries of Spanish Texas”, and started as a smuggler’s trail.  The book covers the period from 1800 to 1880. It is a great look at history during that time.

The maps and illustrations throughout the book are wonderful, and show the Trace ran from Fulton, Arkansas to Texarkana, then southwest to Epperson’s Ferry, and down to Hughes Springs.  It continued southerly just south of Jefferson and east of Marshall. It made its way to Tatum and Mt. Enterprise and ended at Nacogdoches where it intersected with King’s Highway. This highway ran from Natchitoches to San Antonio.

Some of Trammel’s Trace still exists today in parts of northeast Texas.  Chapter 2 takes you on the “Journey down Trammel’s Trace” with Day 1, Leaving the United States (which would be at the Texas border near Arkansas and Texarkana); and ending with Days 16 & 17 in Nacogdoches.  During Days 11-13, they cross the Big Cypress Bayou.

Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, a Frenchman, developed many of the East Texas trading trails.  When hearing the name, I wonder if he was related to the St. Denis family now in Jefferson.

The 1832-1836 history of Houston, Crockett and Bowie as they enter Texas along Trammel’s Trace is very interesting and tells how each of them rode the Trace to the Alamo.  “Men who were vilified, sued, disgraced, and in debt in the United States became Texas heroes”.

Where does Nicolas Trammell fit in?  The book covers his time in and out of Texas, and that of his family.  The author says he was “more opportunist than outlaw and made the most of disorder”.  Trammell was born in Tennessee in 1780. There were two false reports of his death around 1856; he finally died in April of 1856.  Pinkerton ends the book explaining that “Nicolas Trammell was not a visionary. He was just a horse smuggler who changed a part of history”.

Pinkerton lives in Houston and was in Jefferson for a book reading after this book came out.  This is a wonderful piece of Northeast Texas history and you will want to read it from cover to cover.  It is available at the Jefferson Carnegie Library.


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