Santa Fe Trail Association member, Marion Lowe, is overseeing the restoration of William Becknell’s gravesite. The site is located about six miles west of Clarksville Texas on the south side of Highway 82, on a corner of what is still called “Becknell’s Prairie”. Clarksville is located about 25 miles south of the Red River border with Oklahoma in the upper eastern corner of Texas.

In 1861 William’s wife, Mary, deeded some six acres to the Methodist Episcopal Church. While there are only four documented burials, exploration, during the clean up process, indicated that a number of other burials have taken place there and nearby.

The restoration has been in process since Mr. Lowe got the idea, in 2009, that the gravesite of such a famous person should be better cared for. The completed site will consist of a small roadside parking area with a 450-foot long gravel pathway that leads uphill to the small cemetery. The parking area will allow visitors to read a new cast bronze sign that briefly tells who Becknell was. As is the custom in Texas, the site will be announced about one mile in advance in either direction on Highway 82.

Visitors who wish to do so will be directed up hill to the approximately 90 foot by 50 foot cemetery which will be enclosed with a new, gated wrought iron fence. At the site are several gravestones and the large granite monument placed there by the state of Texas in the 1950’s. A new cast bronze sign will provide some additional information related to Becknell. It will also correct an error on the granite monument related to Becknell’s date of death which should have read “1856” but was transposed to read “1865”.

Mr. Lowe and a group of volunteers, in previous years, have done extensive clearing of the accumulation of brush, briers and grass that had nearly covered up the cemetery plot. Now it looks much like it could have in Becknell’s day with its cover of oak trees. After completing the restoration this year the site will be submitted for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.


  1. Randall Becknell says:

    Dear Author,

    My name is Randall Becknell and I appreciate your web site and the efforts for William Becknell. I thought I would provide you with more information. Thomas Becknell (William’s father and my great, great, great, great grandfather) was born March 1753 Swan Creek/Pond, Wilkes County, NC was mortally wounded at the Battle of King’s Mountain (Burke County, North Carolina) and died from his wounds on 31 December 1780. More information is available if you are interested.

    • Frances says:

      I have just seen your entry on a web site about the history of the Santa Fe Trail, and the “Father of the Santa Fe Trail,” William Becknell. I have been fascinated by William Becknell for many years and would love to know more about him. You indicate that you are a descendant and that you do have information. Please feel free to email me at [email protected]. My husband and I tried to find his grave several years ago and are thrilled that it is now able to be located.

      Hoping to hear from you.

  2. Randall Becknell says:

    My name is Randall Becknell and I have a correction on my earlier post:
    Thomas Becknell was born March 1753 Swan Creek/Pond, Wilkes County, NC was mortally wounded at the Battle of King’s Mountain (Burke County, North Carolina) and died from his wounds on 31 December 1780.
    Thomas was Father to Micajah, William (my great, great, great, great grandfather born Abt 1768), Henry James and Mary.

  3. The William Becknell/Robbinsville Historic Cemetery Dedication

    The Capt. William Becknell grave site will be dedicated on May 7, 2015. Capt. William Becknell (1788-1856), who many believe fought at the battle of San Jacinto in 1836 and started wagon traffic on the famous Santa Fe Trail in 1822, was buried near Clarksville, Texas. The Trail was influential in the US annexation of the southwest in 1849.
    Until recently his gravesite was all but forgotten. Then some Clarksville history buffs began to reclaim the little graveyard which is located on part of Becknell’s former 3000 acre ranch. The cemetery is located six miles west of Clarksville on US Highway 82.
    The dedication ceremony is hosted by the Historic Red River County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee and the Red River County Historical Society. At the dedication Allan Wheeler, a former Santa Fe Trail director and known for his reenactments of Capt. Becknell, will present some of Becknell’s many history-making accomplishments. Wheeler will also present a more extensive reenactment that evening at the Clarksville First Presbyterian Church at 6 PM.
    For more information please call the Historic Red River County Chamber of Commerce at (903) 427-2645. For information about Becknell and the Santa Fe Trail please see the web site,

  4. John Becknell says:

    It will be my pleasure to be in attendance at this dedication along with my cousin, Bob Ekstrom. We are direct descendents of Capt. William Becknell’s son, John Calhoun Becknell. Growing up we knew very little about our Becknell ancestry. However, our grandmother did mention that she believed our grandfather, Bishop Carrol Becknell, was related to the Becknell who opened the Santa Fe Trail. Folks like Marion Lowe and Allen Wheeler are to be commended for helping us all remember the early foundations of the USA and the pioneers who built them.

  5. Bill Liles says:

    My name is Bill Liles and my GGG Grandfather, Preston Bland, was a member of the Red River Blues commanded by Capt. Becknell in the Texas Revolution in 1836. Although about 50 volunteers left north Texas to join Sam Houston’s forces near San Jacinto, less than half, for one reason or another, seemed to have made it to their destination. Capt. Becknell signed documents acknowledging that my GGG Grandfather did lose his horse in the endeavor so he was able to collect $75 to reimburse him although it took the Republic of Texas some years to do so! Preston Bland was 19 years old.

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