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Monday, July 2, 2007

What tribe of Indians were in Ovilla when settlers came?




I grew up in Ovilla and in my High School days was able to find a little bit of Ovilla History at Sims Library in Waxahachie. There is a book in the archive area that has many recounts of early Ovilla History. From what I remember the Indians in the Ovilla area were friendly. Probably remained in the area because, although it may be hard to believe, Buffalo were plenty in Ellis county at one time. Tonkawa indians are the name of the Indians I have heard about in Ellis County and Ovilla. What the Handbook of Texas says about the Ellis County Indians is
"the Tonkawa Indians were the earliest inhabitants of the future county, though parties of Wacos, Bidais, Anadarkos, and Kickapoos often hunted in the area. Spanish missionaries worked with the Tonkawas, and as the American settlers began to move into the region in the middle of the nineteenth century, the Indians offered little organized resistance. By 1859 the Tonkawas had been removed to Oklahoma."


Comanches had squeezed the Tonkawa out of their land so the Tonkawa became Anglo friendly against a common enemy.

The Hanbook of Texas says about the allegiance,
"The Tonkawas often aided their new Anglo allies against the Comanches."


Growing up in the early 1980's my friends and I would ride our bikes to fishing ponds. We rode down water street, across the old wood bridge (not there now) over Red Oak creek, and to Bryson lane then at the Y split to Montgomery rd. If you kept riding until the road turns right 90 degrees(3 way stop there now) and goes down hill to a bridge you will find a flat field. To the back of the field (Northerly) runs Red Oak Creek. The east side there is a small tributary (where the bridge crosses). All along the West side of the field is a hill covered with trees. I have been told and have read it is called "Indian Hill". The naming of the hill I guess is because of the obvious. Old timers tell me that they found artifacts and arrowheads in the field. I personally have found a crude arrowhead in the field. But it has been picked over pretty good and houses are in the area now. My friends and I would also venture there to fire shotguns and rifles. Occasionally we rode three wheelers or motorcycles in this low land cul-de-sac we called "Sheeps bottom". I think it was named after the fella that owned the land. I believe he also owned the old Gas station near the old Cotton Gin in Downtown Ovilla. It is also reported that "Indian Hill" is a Texas Ghost Town. But the only time I did venture up there I did find some old wood but no structures to speak of.

I had talked to a police officer that said in the 70's he had arrested a bunch of naked hippies down in "Sheeps bottom". Apparently it was a "parking" spot for teenagers for sometime. I remember there being a dirt car path all the way around the field. Maybe the wild spirit of the Indians exist there?

I've posted three pictures I took of "Sheeps Bottom" and "Indian Hill" today. Two pics are at At Montgomery and Ashley Circle. First picture on top is straight down the middle of the field where Red Oak Creek is behind the houses to the right and straight behind the house is more of the field. The second is facing the West side of "Sheeps bottom" where the trees go up Indian Hill. There is a distinctive house with columns closest to Montgomery in the field but I didn't get a pic of it. The third picture is farther West up Montgomery (up the Hill). (My etrex gps coordinates are N32degrees 31.916' W096degrees 55.022'.) The land pretty much stays this elevation on the north side of Montgomery all the way to Joe Wilson Rd. If there was an old town here it probably was along this whole stretch. It is in ideal place for an Indian camp. High ground to defend against enemies and near a water source.

Note:07/12/2007 Since posting I have that Lester Lindop was nicknamed "sheep" because of his snow white hair according to the Ovilla History book page 125. He ran a restaraunt called Star Cafe and the Co-op and Gin for 25 years in Ovilla. I think his place is where we got green apple bubble gum. For some reason Pickard's didn't sell the green version.

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