William Becknell, known as the “Father of the Santa Fe Trail,” was an American frontier soldier, trader, farmer, rancher and politician. Becknell was born in Virginia in 1787 or 1788 to Micaiah and Pheby (Landrum) Becknell. He married in 1807 and moved to the Missouri frontier in 1811. He served during the War of 1812. The following spring, he joined Daniel Morgan Boone’s company of United States Mounted Rangers as a first sergeant and fought under the command of Major Zachary Taylor in the Battle of Credit Island in Iowa in 1814.
After the war and the death of his wife, Becknell married again and, in 1821, organized a trading party to cross the great plains to Mexico. Because of information given to him by Mexican soldiers, Becknell was the first U.S. trader to arrive in Santa Fe after Mexico won its independence from Spain and, therefore, “opened” legal international trade. From 1825-27, Becknell played an important but unofficial role in the Sibley Survey established by Congress to mark the Santa Fe trail. In 1827 he was appointed justice of the peace in Saline County, Missouri and then was elected tothe Missouri House of Representatives.
It wasn’t until 1835 that he and his family moved to Red River County where he commanded a militia unit known as the Red River Blues to protect settlers from raiding Native Americans. Becknell became Captain and his men were guardians of Red River County until 1842. He was appointed to supervise the Texas congressional elections in 1845 and the U.S. congressional elections in 1846. When he passed in 1856, he had a sizable estate in land and cattle named Becknell’s Prairie, and was known as a true American hero.
Erected 2012 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 17151.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Settlements & Settlers • War of 1812 • Wars, US Indian.
Location. 33° 37.758′ N, 95° 10.151′ W. Marker is near Detroit, Texas, in Red River County. Marker is on U.S. 82 0.4 miles east of County Road 1290, on the right when traveling east. Located at Becknell Cemetery (aka Robbinsville Cemetery). Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Detroit TX 75436, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. City of Clarksville (approx. 5.9 miles away); David Gouverneur Burnet (approx. 6.6 miles away); Page's Tree
Also see . . . Wikipedia article on William Becknell. (Submitted on November 18, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Credits. This page was last revised on November 24, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 18, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 54 times since then and 5 times this year. Photo 1. submitted on November 18, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
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