Local history is directly tied to the Sulphur River. The first modern inhabitants of this area were Native Americans of the Caddo Confederacy, which was found throughout the wooded areas of the South. They arrived and settled on the high bank of the Sulphur River before Columbus was born, and left the area before the American Revolution (1300s-1700s). It seems very likely that there was a Caddo village on or near Wildernest. Hundreds of artifacts have been found here at the B&B over the years. They still show up in the form of arrowheads or flint fragments after a good rain. The disappearance of the Caddo is a mystery. Perhaps there were attacks by other tribes, but most likely there was a severe drought which caused the Caddo crops to fail. The Caddo hunted the game in the area, which included deer and bear, as well as smaller animals, but they also farmed, raising corn, squash, and pumpkins.
The first Americans to arrive in the area were hunters and traders who crossed the Red River into Mexican controlled Texas. In the 1820s, a trail called Trammel's Trace was opened between Fulton, Arkansas, and Nacogdoches, located in what was then Northern Mexico. The trail soon widened to accommodate wagons pulled by oxen or horses. Through this trail came the early inhabitants of Texas who won independence from Mexico in 1836. In 1838, a ferry was started on the Sulphur River less than 2 miles from what would become Wildernest. This was the Stephenson Ferry and was operated by the Stephenson family from 1838 until 1910. A monument was placed on US Hwy 67 in 1936 that notes the history of the ferry. Trammels Trace, Spanish Trace, and Caddo Trace were trails that crossed on or very near Wildernest during the early history of Texas. There are still traces of an old wagon trail displaying deep ruts located behind The Rancher.
Could it be that Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, and other legendary Texas heroes crossed Wildernest land on their way to Nacogdoches and then on to San Antonio and the Alamo? We know that both Houston and Crockett crossed the Red River near present day Clarksville and came down the Spanish Trace which connected to Trammels Trace about 3 miles from here. So - yes, it is very possible!
Low-light photo of Trammel's Trace. Hwy 77 between Naples and Atlanta. Photo by Bob Vernon.