for the Home of
Becknell emigrated to Franklin, Missouri, about 1816, where he was engaged in trade and
made a noted trip to Santa Fe in the fall of 1821. Finding American trade welcome, he
returned to Franklin and conducted a wagon train to Santa Fe the next spring, following
aproximately the route later called the "Santa Fe Trail".
He trapped in Western Colorado in 1824, returned to Franklin in June,
1825, and merchandized until the fall of 1835 when he led a party of Missourians to the
area of Red River County ro partisipate in the Texas Revolution. He recruted a company of
mounted riflemen called the "Red River blues" and took them to the South Texas
area in 1836.
Becknell returned to Red River County and ran for Congress of the
Republic against Collin McKinney. At first it was thought that Becknell had won, but a
recount showed McKinney to be the winner. However a payment warrant from the Republic
dated October 13, 1836, showed that Becknell was paid for eleven days service in the
Becknell again returned to Red River County and settled down on his
land grant of 3,536 acres about six to eight miles West of Clarksville and remained there
until his death on April 30, 1865. (The Handbook of Texas, The Texas State
Historical Association, Austin, 1952, page 134)
He acquired the land in Red River County by a headright (Veteran's
reward) from the Republic of Texas rewarding him for bringing volunteer soldiers to fight
in the Batt;e of San Jacinto. This land which becae the William Becknell Survey passed to
his wife Mary, at his death.
Other documents dated August 15, 1853, show that Becknell was paid
for three months at $75.00 per month, a total of $225.00 as Captain of a Texas Ranger
Mary Becknell was a remarkable woman herself. She died in 1870
leaving a will which is an extraordinary document and recorded in the County Clerk's
office, Red River County, Texas.
The original house was built by Becknell and was later modified and
repaired by the Ward Family, becoming known as the "Ward Place" or the
"Ward Home". The house only was purchased in 1967 by its present owners, Mr and
Mrs, Harold S. Wallace, the applicants, who moved the building to its present location a
few miles East, near the Mabry Community on U.S. Highway 82 West of Clarksville and about
four milesfrom downtown Clarksville.
Perhaps the most authentic mention of the Becknell place is in
"The History of Clarksville and Old Red River County" by Pat B. Clark, Mathis
Van Nort and Company, Dallas, 1937. On page 17, Clark relates an interesting story
involving the company of Red River County soldiers under the command of Captain Becknell
and Lt. James Clark arriving at the battleground of San Jancinto a few hours after the
battle. The wounded General Houston related to Becknell and Clark the details of the
encounter and asked that the Red River County soldiers guard Santa Anna, as these men had
not been in the heat of battle, and General Houston said, " I must preserve the life
of Santa Anna by all means at any cost".
One of the guards was "Old Man" John Stiles, an early Red
River County settler in the Whiterock area, ten miles Northeast of Clarksville. Stiles
reportedly obtained the Masonic apron of Santa Anna and a case of the General's razors,
which he kept as war souvenirs.
Clark, early in his book beginning on page 10, tells of Dayy Crockett's
entry into Texas into Red River County across the Red River at Jonesboro and met his
friend, John Stiles. But he was also desirous of seeing another old friend, Captain
Becknell, and according to Clark:
"Mr Stiles went with him out
to the edge of the praire and pointing out a clump of blackjack trees standing on the
praire to themselves, he directed Crockett to go just North of those trees and thence on
West until he crossed two creeks near Clarksville and one creek two or three miles West,
and thence on West until he struck a round praire surrounded by skirts of timber, thence
to a house, very easily seen from the edge of that praire, which was the home of Captain
31, 1975, issue of "The Clarksville Times" conatianed a Bicentennial Feature
from which was taken an article published in "The Dallas News" in 1955 and based
on records which have been accepted widely as accurate. A portion of one of the paragraphs
of this feature reads as follows:
"Stiles directed Crockett to the new home of Becknell, says the Clark account; and
Davy set out to visit him".
Later, on page 12, Clark says:
"David Crockett, being a great hunter, was
prevailed upon by Captain Becknell to stop a few days and rest his horse".
terrain features have, of course, changed, the applicants have insofar as is practical,
retraced these directions and find they terminate at the site of the "Ward
House", the old Becknell home.
Memories of individuals in the community which stretch back some
ninety-odd years also recall being advised by their parents and grandparents that this
house was indeed the Captain Becknell structure, which is completely compaible with the
style of architecture, materials and methods of the construction used.~
All these factors convince the applicants taht this house is the
oiginal Becknell home.