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Chapter II
COLONISTS


In the early 1700ís Sicily Island was settled by a French colony at the present site of Ferry Landing on Lake Lovelace. In 1729 their settlement was abandoned. After joining their fellow countrymen at Harrisonburg, both parties fled to safety in New Orleans to escape a feared massacre by the Natchez Indians.

In 1731 the last battle of the Natchez Indians was fought at Battleground Plantation, four miles north of the town of Sicily Island. This was the first and only time in American history that the American Indians fought behind entrenchments.

Richard, Thomas, and George Lovelace, who migrated from the Carolinas, settled in the region in the 1760ís. Traveling on flatboats and using the same water route as the French before them, they came up Lake Lovelace, previously called Squirrel Lake or Silver Creek by the Indians, and built a log cabin at the head of the lake.

Being so well pleased with the natural advantages and the romantic scenery, they decided to name the island for the beautiful Island of Sicily in the Mediterranean.

It was on Ferry Plantation that the Catahoula Cur came into being. The Lovelace brothers brought with them Dalmatians which had been used as coach dogs. These bred with Indian dogs here, and the result was the Catahoula Cur.

Winding through the Tensas River swamp and cutting into the bluff one and one-half miles north of the present township of Sicily Island, there is a plainly marked road once traveled by buffalo and pre-dawn man. Long before the Louisiana Purchase (1803), there was a useable road leading from Natchez, Mississippi, to Rodney, Mississippi. There it crossed the Mississippi River to Saint Joseph and Waterproof in Tensas Parish and moved westward through Highland, Sicily Island, Harrisonburg and on to Natchitoches, Louisiana, and to Texas and Mexico. Around 1800 this road was called the Spanish Road. It was a highland road and used practically all the year.

Prior to 1800, few families lived between Rodney, Mississippi and Natchitoches, Louisiana. However, some people from Tennessee, the Carolinas, Virginia, Kentucky and Georgia had settled there. Henry Holstein; Edward, Richard and Thomas Lovelace; Richard Green; Rezin Bowie; George Lovelace; Zachariah Kirkland; Moses King; and John Lovelace, Sr. were early settlers on Sicily Island.

Between 1815 and 1859, the Spanish Road, later called the Texas Road, which as late as 1890 was still in good repair, handled its greatest traffic. Wagon trains carried settlers west to Texas led by General Elizah Sterling, Clark Robinson, and Stephen F. Austin. Records from the courthouse in Harrisonburg reveal that Stephen F. Austin died owing George Lovelace large sums of money as a result of his colonization ventures in Texas.

Chapter 3 -- Commerce and Plantations


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