Gilmer, TX

That Time Desperados Called Gilmer Home

Joey Lowe

Gilmer Texas. There's a lot to be said about the counties of Northeast Texas and Upshur County is no different. Many folks believe our history with famous desperados and bandits began with Bonnie and Clyde, but the reality is Gilmer was a magnet for those types over a hundred years earlier. Around the beginning of the 1800s, in 1803 to be specific, the United States had made the Louisiana Purchase from France. This purchase created a territorial dispute between the United States, Mexico, and Spain. Each country believed they owned more of Texas than they actually did and due to shipping routes of the time, the borders in question focused on the banks of the Sabine River. Well, anyone familiar with that river knows it's shaped like a wiggly snake as it makes its way north, east, south, and west through Texas. So, after many arguments, some gunfights, and plenty of talks, each country decided to back off a little and the disputed areas became known as "neutral ground".
The Seven Cherokee Chiefs of the Carolina TerritoriesDNA Consultants

The neutrality of the disputed territory meant no one was enforcing the law, so this opened up a plethora of opportunities for bandits, bootleggers, freeloaders, and robbers. This went on for a little over twenty years until a couple of law-abiding citizens from back east moved into the area and began farming and trading with the Indians. The community grew and before long the decision was made to relocate the Indians further away from the settlements for many reasons. The official reason stated the Indians were raiding the settlements and raping, pillaging, and killing the settlers. The Indians stated they were shoved out to allow more settlers to move in. Eventually, there was a huge 2-day battle along the Neches River where the Cherokee leader, 83-year-old Chief Boyles was killed on the battlefield. After that battle, the Indians left for Oklahoma along what is called the Trail of Tears.

While all of this was taking place, and the Army was busy managing the Indians, Mexico decided they wanted Texas back and they would accomplish this by paying any Indians who hadn't left the area to continue with their raids. In downtown Gilmer, there is a little-known park hidden along the railroad tracks and an almost dry creek bed called Roosevelt Park. This park was the home of the Cherokee Campground for these Indians who stayed behind and based their raid operations from this campground. Word got out and the U. S. Army sent troops to round up the remaining stragglers and take them to Oklahoma to the reservation. The Mexican agents who were here, promoting the Indians to do these raids, feared they would also be captured. They had been entrusted with wagon-loads of gold and silver.
Typical supply wagon that would have hauled gold and silver bullion.The Vintage News

Legend has it to prevent the U. S. Army from capturing that much wealth, the agents, along with the help of the Indians, found a large wet hole somewhere along that dry creek bed and sank those wagons still loaded with gold and silver. The name of the creek is Little Cypress Creek and the wagons, gold and silver have never been found. There are large swaths of the creek that are dry and there are other parts of the creek that are located in swampy areas. It is unknown exactly where the wagons were sunk. Many folks came and went while looking for the treasure, including two Irishmen who set up large pumps to remove the water from the creek. It is claimed the treasure has never been found.

Like many little towns throughout our nation, Gilmer and Upshur County are enriched with a unique history. I hope these tidbits help those who live here gain a better understanding of our background. I also hope this encourages my readers to learn more about your town too. Can you tell me if there are any hidden or lost treasures in your town or city? I would like to know.

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I am an old disabled man living on my ranch in NE Texas and I write about the world around me. I write about human nature, humanity, and the lessons we can learn from listening to each other. My published works appear on and I'm currently writing a novella about the unexpected death of an imaginary friend.

Longview, TX

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