Ambrose Ripley and his wife Rachel (Wood) brought their family to Texas in 1837, settling near here in what was then Red River County. They established their home near the Nacogdoches Road (Cherokee Trace) and a stream now known as Ripley Creek.
On April 10, 1841, while Ripley was away, a band of Indians attacked his farmstead, killing first his eldest son who was plowing in the field. Mrs. Ripley and five children were killed trying to reach a canebreak and one infant died when the house was burned. Two of Ripley's daughters eluded the Indians and made it to a neighboring farm. Charles Black and Charles S. Stewart led a group of settlers north in pursuit of the band. Near the Sulphur River, they encountered Indians, who may or may not have been involved in the massacre, and attacked them, killing several.
The Ripley family massacre was an isolated incident in this area, but it proved to be a rallying point for increased frontier defenses and for support of the anti-Indian policies of Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar. The attack also influenced the formation of a militia unit under the leadership of Gen. Edward H. Tarrant and Cols. James Bourland and William C. Young to rid the area of Indians.