The Colony Public Library

Chapter 3: Preston Trail

 Many of the Peters Colonists came from areas north of Texas and entered the Republic on a military road built by the Republic of Texas in 1838.  The road was originally named the Great National Highway (GNH), but later became commonly referred to as the Preston Trail. (Cowling 12-14) (Bridges 24-25)

The Preston Trail began on the Red River near Coffey’s Trading Post about eight miles north of Preston, now named Denison. The Preston Trail followed a north-south ridge between the Elm Fork and East Fork of the Trinity River from Denison to Dallas.  In Collin County the trail was located about one and a half miles east of the Denton County line and went on to Dallas and San Antonio (Cowling 14) (Bridges 24-25).  Today’s Texas State Highway 289, or Preston Road, follows the approximate route of the old Preston Trail (Greene, Part B).  During this time, the Republic of Texas did not allow settlements within three miles of the trail in order to protect the natural views of the Texas landscape for migrating settlers (Cowling 14).

Fate seems to have steered a group of early settlers to southeast Denton County in 1843.  The group established a settlement in an area about three miles west of the Preston Trail, which they named Bridges Settlement (Bates 13).  The Preston Trail in this area was in Collin County, a little over a mile and a half east of the Denton County line. The settlement was approximately another mile and a half west of the Denton County line. 

Southeast Denton County was a good location to establish a settlement.  The land was predominantly fertile Blackland prairie grassland and easily cultivated. There was sufficient timber along the creeks, and water was available from nearby streams, springs, and shallow wells. There was also an abundance of wild game, fish, nuts, wild fruits, and honey in the area (Collin p 21-22).

Denton County was not actually established until 1846.  Prior to 1846 all of what is now Denton County was part of a large land area named Fannin County.  This larger Fannin County had been created by the Republic of Texas in 1837 and included all or parts of the following current Texas counties: Denton, Grayson, Collin, Cooke, Montague, Wise, Clay, Jack, Wichita, Archer, Young, Wilbarger, Baylor, Throckmorton, Hardeman, Foard, Knox, Haskell, Stonewall, King, Cottle, and Childress counties, as well as parts of Hunt and Collingsworth counties (Cowling 4). However to avoid confusion, the author will refer to the area as Denton County, even for those events that occurred prior to the establishment of the county.

Go to Chapter 4: Bridges Settlement