A review of the history surrounding the establishment and life of the Stonewall Saloon (historical museum) circa 1873




Oliver-Muller, Reta

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After the Civil War many cattle trails crossed North Texas. Jesse Chisholm, for example, transformed a buffalo trail, one that extended from Texas to Kansas, into the Chisholm Trail. Over this trail millions of Texas cattle were driven to the railhead in Abilene, Kansas, for shipment to eastern markets. Most of the cattle crossed the Red River near Red River Station in Montague County, Texas, entering Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. While cattle were driven north over this trail, settlers and adventurers headed west on the California Trail to seek gold in the fields of California. These trails crossed at the settlement known as Head of Elm in what is now Montague County, Texas. This frontier settlement is the site where "Captain" Irby Holt Boggess settled after migrating from Tennessee. In 1873, he built the first permanent structure in Montague County, the Stonewall Saloon. He chose native stone construction because it was readily available. He served cowboys on the Chisholm Trail cattle drives, as well as pioneers traveling west seeking their bonanza in California. Of historical importance, this structure was only one of two surviving saloons in Texas that dated their existence from the cattle drive era. Now, the Stonewall Saloon Historical Museum is the only one still standing that dates its existence from the Chisholm Trail era. Interestingly, the residents of Head of Elm/Saint Jo knew Boggess as "Captain." Research, however, conducted at the National Archives in the Compiled Military Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, reveals him to be a Private, not a Captain. These records also note his absence without leave for over four months (December 10, 1862 through April 1863 roll-call) from military duty with a bounty of $50 posted for his return. The history of the saloon, and the legend of Boggess are linked to the temperance movement in parts of Texas, and specifically in Montague County. The saloon closed in 1897. It is unclear what, if any, business the building housed from 1897 until 1907. From 1907 until 1942, the building housed the Citizens National Bank. In 1942, the Citizens National Bank merged with the Saint Jo National Bank and moved into their building across the street. From 1942 until 1957, the building housed the Kingery Drilling and Production Company. Over the years, the former saloon/bank housed a variety of businesses on the second floor. The last known use of the second floor was as a doctor's office in the 1940s. H. D. Field, Jr. established a Saloon Museum in the building for the Montague County Centennial Celebration in 1958. In 1996, Johnny Muller purchased the building and its contents. His boyhood dream was to someday own the building and to retain its authenticity. Now, the museum is the passion of its present owners. Restoration continues on the second floor to accommodate the growing collection of western and frontier memorabilia typical of the late 1800s. Future plans include educational programs for the public along with the expansion of displays and reference materials on the history of the cowboy and the impact cattle drives have had on American culture. Future plans include applying for the Texas Historical Commission Building Marker and for National Register of Historic Places designation. Western lore shelves of libraries groan with the weight of"cowboy books" depicting their picturesque lifestyle and marvelous skill while driving herds of wild cattle across a great expanse of unsettled and untamed land. The intention of this writer is to review this information and use as appropriate while utilizing primary and secondary sources to compile a history of the saloon as well as the history of the "life and times" responsible for its creation.



Social sciences, Texas