Fort Lyday, Fannin County, TX
Fort Lyday was the home of 25 to 30 families in the early 1800's in Fannin County. The stockade was fortified by a ranger force of 85 men under the command of Colonel Isaac Lyday. Its site was ten miles northeast of the present-day Ladonia, just inside the Lamar County line, but its cemetery and bridge were in Fannin County.
Lyday was the leader of a band of sturdy pioneers who left Tennessee on a two-fold mission to Texas. The settlers intended to make land claims for permanent homes and Lyday was instructed by the Government to subdue the Indians. Despite the precaution of families and the ranger force, life and property were secure only within gunshot of the fort. The Indians rode into the country during the light of every full moon and the scouts were constantly on the alert. Even so, the Indians managed to penetrate their lines, steal horses, kill cattle and massacre settlers and travelers. Hunting was carried on by ranger scouts for the barricaded settlers. The fort itself was made up of two rooms about 18 feet square. Within the stockade, small log cabins were built. The fort stood until about 1890. A freed slave, Jeff Leftrick, lived on the site many years.
In the Bledsoe community near the site of Fort Lyday, a cemetery of the early pioneers remains today. Nearby is Colonel Lyday's burying ground where he buried the earliest Negro and white settlers.
Some of the early settlers at Fort Lyday included Isaac and Andrew Lyday, Wiley B. Merrill, James McFarland, the Dillingham brothers, Elbert Early, Ansalum and Andrew Terry, David Waggoner, James H. Woods, the McCowan family, the Lane family, M. W. Bledsoe, G. W. Wilkerson, R. Brown and Al Miller.
Settlers of the fort had a favorite pet, a gentle hog. It spent much of its time on the porch of the fort. One day while the men were away, the women heard screams in the woods nearby. They thought Indians were trying to coax them from the fort so that they might raid it. The women grabbed their guns and started to the woods in the direction of the screams. Instead of finding Indians, they found the pet hog clutched in the embrace of a huge bear. One woman shot and killed the bear and saved the pet hog. This woman was Minerva, sister of Bailey Inglish and wife of David Clark of Clarksville. By John Avery [Fannin County Folks and Facts]