Monday, June 12, 2017

White Rock, Texas: If you don’t intend to go there, you probably won’t

White Rock is not a place you wind up in by accident.

White Rock is in Red River County, eight miles northeast of Clarksville, says the Handbook of Texas Online. It seems farther.

“WHITE ROCK, TEXAS (Red River County). White Rock, at the junction of Farm roads 1158 and 1699, eight miles northeast of Clarksville in northern Red River County, was settled as early as 1823, when John Stiles crossed the Red River to settle at a spot identified by a white rock. The population was twenty-five in 1910. From 1940 through 1986 the estimated population was reported as forty. In 1990 it was eighty-five. The population remained the same in 2000.”

I’m not buying that part about “identified by a white rock.” The Red River is a few miles away, and just because somebody stepped ashore near a white rock does not mean he is anywhere near the community. I’ve been to White Rock, and I think the settlement got its name from the fact that the land just below the grass is chalky white stone. An acquaintance told me there was a stream bed with high banks nearby, containing figures eroded by water and wind. I never did get to see the figures.

John Stiles settled the area, although the Handbook entry says “Red Rock.” Probably what happened was, the writer was thinking “Red River” and wrote in the wrong word.

“STILES, JOHN (1797–1854). John Stiles (Styles), pioneer Red River County settler, was born in Barren County, Kentucky, in March 1797, the son of William Stiles. Around 1818 he moved with his father to Doaksville, Indian Territory, in the Red River valley. In 1823 he crossed the river and settled near the site of present Red Rock in Red River County, Texas. When David Crockett entered Texas he reportedly stayed overnight "with his old friend." In 1836 Stiles joined Capt. William Becknell's company, which arrived at the San Jacinto battlefield a day after the defeat of the Mexican forces. According to tradition, Stiles and others from Becknell's company were assigned by Sam Houston to guard Antonio López de Santa Anna because they would be, in Houston's words, "a less prejudiced group of men than the participants in the battle." Stiles was married to Kentucky native Sarah K. Reed; they had twenty-three children, twelve of whom reached maturity. He died in Red River County in August 1854.”

White Rock Cemetery contains graves of people who lived in the area back when Texas was a country. Several tombstones contain markers identifying the dead as Citizen of the Republic of Texas.

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