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Red River County and Clarksville are actually older than the state of Texas itself. Once known as the Red River District, the area represented all or part of 39 present-day Texas counties. Some of the area's earliest Anglo settlements could be found along the Red River as early as 1816 and included Pecan Point, the Burkham Settlement, and Jonesboro, followed by the settling of Clarksville in 1833. Many of Texas's earliest pioneers passed through the county, including Sam Houston, who spent his first night in Texas in Jonesboro at James and Isabella Clark's home; and Davy Crockett, who spent time at Whiterock at John Stiles's home before he perished at the Battle of the Alamo. Today Red River County is known as the "Gateway to Texas."

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