Right at the edge of the Red River stands a historic site marked by the footings of an old house. The place is called Colbert’s Ferry, which was named after Benjamin “Frank” Colbert, a Chickasaw citizen who used to operate a ferry across this river.
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Located at the border which separates Bryan County (Oklahoma) and Grayson County (Texas), Colbert’s Ferry is a window to the past, with its fascinating significance on the beginnings of the Chickasaw Nation.
Back in the 1850s, people from the Indian Territory, Texas, Kansas, and Missouri who needed to go north used the ferry service to cross the Red River. Colbert’s Ferry is the only way to get to and from this side of Oklahoma. Men, horses, cattle, and wagons comprised the traffic of this era.
At the same time, the Butterfield Overland Mail used Colbert’s Ferry as a route for its stagecoach passengers and mail delivery that connects to Texas and Arkansas. This further grew the ferry’s operations, prompting Benjamin to use his house (which later became a mansion) as a rest and food stop for the travelers, hence becoming Colbert Station. A post office bearing the Colbert name was also established here.
During the Civil War, the Confederate forces used the same ferry service. Thousands of immigrants have passed through Colbert’s Ferry, as well as the thriving cattle drives from Texas. Benjamin Colbert’s ferry service had been a key in making the local economy flourish; hence, a town in Bryan County was also named Colbert.
Colbert’s Ferry was attributed not only to Benjamin but also to his descendants George and Levi, who operated the ferry years later. The Colbert men were also a part of the Chickasaw Nation’s political pioneers. Holmes (Benjamin’s son) contributed in writing the local government’s constitution.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the history of Colbert’s Ferry is the fabled treasure that is believed to be hidden somewhere in the area where the house once stood.
Legend has it that Benjamin has never believed in keeping his money in the bank. One of his sons named Corn used to see a two feet long wooden box under his father’s bed. It contained a huge amount of gold and silver coins.
One day, according to Corn, his father transferred the box to a safe place, presumably buried somewhere in their property. The hiding place, however, was not revealed to him. He tried to look for that box but he never found it.
And so, the hidden treasure of Colbert’s Ferry may have been a myth, but one fact still remains –Colbert’s Ferry is an important site. It paved way for the growth and industrialization of the Indian Territory. It embodied culture and history – and it helped shaped into what Oklahoma is now today.
A community that looks back to its heritage preserves its soul. This is what Bryan County is all about; a place that is rich in history and culture. Like Colbert’s Ferry, Bryan County may be your passageway to a new life.
If you are looking to relocate somewhere in Durant, Oklahoma, there are many affordable homes in the area. Who knows, you just might find a home that you fall in love with and treasure for many years to come. I would be glad to answer any questions you have about moving to Durant. Give me a call or send me an email today.
Brian A. Allen is a new Realtor and is full of energy, excitement and zeal for every sale. He spent most of his career in marketing and now applies that skill set to the homes his clients want to sell. Click here to learn more about Brian A. Allen