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Home Care In Fort McKavett, TX

Home Care Fort McKavett, TX

They say that your golden years are the best years of your life. For most older Americans, that's how it should be - a time to relax, reflect, and live life in a familiar place. After all, senior citizens in the U.S. have worked tirelessly to build a better economy, serve their communities, and raise families.

However, as seniors grow older, completing daily tasks like showering and enjoying activities such as visiting the historic Fort McKavett State Historic Site gets harder without someone by their side. Unfortunately, many older Americans aren't able to rely on their adult children for help. The reality in today's world is that family members do not have the skills or time to dedicate to caring for their parents. That's where Always Best Care Senior Services comes in.

Our in-home care services are for people who prefer to stay at home as they grow older but need ongoing care that family or friends cannot provide. More and more older adults prefer to live far away from long-term, institutionalized facilities and closer to the place where they feel most comfortable - their home. Home care in Fort McKavett, TX is a safe, effective way to give your loved ones the care they need when they need it the most.

 In-Home Care Fort McKavett, TX

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The Always Best Care Difference

Since 1996, Always Best Care has provided non-medical in-home care for seniors to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle as they get older. We are proud to have helped more than 25,000 seniors maintain higher levels of dignity and respect. We focus on providing seniors with the highest level of in-home care available so that they may live happily and independently.

Unlike some senior care companies, we genuinely want to be included in our clients' lives. We believe that personalized care is always the better option over a "one size fits all" approach. To make sure our senior clients receive the best care possible, we pair them with compassionate caregivers who understand their unique needs. That way, they may provide care accordingly without compromising their wellbeing.

The Always Best Care difference lies in life's little moments - where compassionate care and trustworthy experience come together to help seniors live a fruitful, healthy life. Whether you are an aging adult that can't quite keep up with life's daily tasks or the child of a senior who needs regular in-home services, Always Best Care is here to help.


“I work for this team and it's a wonderful team , great communication and support for our clients, their family members and our caring team of staff .”

Antoinette G.

“Ken and Bonnie are wonderful people to help care for your loved ones. their staff was so caring to my mother and so nice to my family I highly recommend them to take care of your loved ones. I think there ought to be more than just five stars to give them”

Mark A.

“I am a past client of this provider Ken and Bonnie were wonderful to work with. They were able to provide my mother with care and a very short notice. Their staff was some of the most caring people that I've ever met. Not only were they wonderful to my mother but also to my family. I would highly recommend using them.”

Mark A.

“For those who are searching for qualified caregivers for their loved ones, contact Ken Thomas at Always Best Care Senior Services. Mr. Thomas provides an authentic and professional guiding hand when discussing available services for your precious senior family members. When it is time for a beloved senior to receive assistance, Mr. Thomas understands the importance of providing trustworthy and quality support.”

Melissa C.

“Ken leads his Always Best Care Senior Services Agency with compassion for his clients and their families. He is a local senior care expert and leader in his community. If you are need of assistance in navigating your local senior care options, then do not hesitate to give Ken a call!”

Kelly B.

“Kenneth is kind, patient, experienced and knowledgeable. We are thankful to him for all his efforts and for going above and beyond.”

Chae S.

“Very professional and welcoming people so I would definitely recommend my friends and family to Always Best Care in Boerne.”

Laurie K.

“The owner is so understanding and supportive of how I want my loved ones cared for. He and his staff actually listen to what I would like done for my parents. Very thoughtful, very professional and very caring. It’s such a relief to have help in caring for my loved ones”

Kristen B.

“Kenneth is knowledgeable and trustworthy. I can’t recommend him enough. You’re in good hands with Kenneth.”

Chae S.

“ALWAYS BEST CARE is certainly a warm & caring business owned & operated by Ken Thomas. I certainly would recommend them for you or your loved ones excellent care.”

Shirley S.

“I will be forever grateful for the love you showered upon us and my grandmother”

Jill &.

What is Non-Medical Senior Care in Fort McKavett, TX?


Home is where the heart is. While that saying can sound a tad cliche, it is especially true for many seniors living in America. When given a choice, older adults most often prefer to grow older at home. An AARP study found that three out of four adults over the age of 50 want to stay in their homes and communities as they age.


When you begin to think about why, it makes sense. Home offers a sense of security, comfort, and familiarity.


The truth is, as we age, we begin to rely on others for help. When a family is too busy or lives too far away to fulfill this role, in-home senior care is often the best solution. Home care services allow seniors to enjoy personal independence while also receiving trustworthy assistance from a trained caregiver.


At Always Best Care, we offer a comprehensive range of home care services to help seniors stay healthy while they get the help they need to remain independent. As your senior loved one gets older, giving them the gift of senior care is one of the best ways to show your love, even if you live far away.

 Senior Care Fort McKavett, TX

Types of Elderly Care in Fort McKavett, TX

To give our senior clients the best care possible, we offer a full spectrum of in-home care services:

Personal Care

Personal Care Services

If your senior loved one has specific care needs, our personal care services are a great choice to consider. Personal care includes the standard caregiving duties associated with companion care and includes help with tasks such as dressing and grooming. Personal care can also help individuals with chronic conditions like diabetes.

Common personal care services include assistance with:

  • Eating
  • Mobility Issues
  • Incontinence
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Grooming

Respite Care Fort McKavett, TX
Home Helper

Home Helper Services

Sometimes, seniors need helpful reminders to maintain a high quality of life at home. If you or your senior has trouble with everyday tasks like cooking, our home helper services will be very beneficial.

Common home helper care services include assistance with:

  • Medication Reminders
  • Meal Preparation
  • Pet Care
  • Prescription Refills
  • Morning Wake-Up
  • Walking
  • Reading
 Caregivers Fort McKavett, TX
Companionship Services

Companionship Services

Using this kind of care is a fantastic way to make life easier for you or your senior loved one. At Always Best Care, our talented caregivers often fill the role of a companion for seniors. That way, older adults can enjoy their favorite local activities, such as visiting Fort McKavett State Historic Site with friends while also receiving the care they need daily or weekly.

Common companionship services include:

  • Grocery Shopping
  • Transportation to Appointments
  • Nutritional Assistance
  • Conversation
  • Planning Outings
  • Completing Errands
  • Transportation to Community
  • Events and Social Outings
Home Care Fort McKavett, TX
Respite Care

Respite Care Services

According to AARP, more than 53 million adults living in the U.S. provide care to someone over 50 years old. Unfortunately, these caregivers experience stress, exhaustion, and even depression. Our respite care services help family caregivers address urgent obligations, spend time with their children, and enjoy nearby activities. Perhaps more importantly, respite care gives family members time to recharge and regroup. Taking personal time to de-stress reduces the risk of caregiver burnout. So, if you've always wanted to eat at the local The Gin and Granary, don't feel bad. Doing so is great for both you and your loved one.

At the end of the day, our goal is to become a valuable part of your senior's daily routine. That way, we may help give them the highest quality of life possible. We know that staying at home is important for your loved one, and we are here to help make sure that is possible.

If you have been on the fence about non-medical home care, there has never been a better time than now to give your senior the care, assistance, and companionship they deserve.

 In-Home Care Fort McKavett, TX

Benefits of Home Care in Fort McKavett, TX

Always Best Care in-home services are for older adults who prefer to stay at home but need ongoing care that friends and family cannot provide. In-home care is a safe, effective way for seniors to age gracefully in a familiar place and live independent, non-institutionalized lives. The benefits of non-medical home care are numerous. Here are just a few reasons to consider senior care services from Always Best Care:

Always Best Care offers a full array of care options for patients at all levels of health. With our trusted elderly care services, your loved one will receive the level of care necessary for them to enjoy the highest possible quality of life.

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Aging in Place: The Preferred Choice for Most Seniors

While it's true that some seniors have complicated medical needs that prevent them from staying at home, aging in place is often the best arrangement for seniors and their families. With a trusted caregiver, seniors have the opportunity to live with a sense of dignity and do so as they see fit - something that is unavailable to many older people today.

In-home care makes it possible for millions of seniors to age in place every year. Rather than moving to a strange nursing home, seniors have the chance to stay at home where they feel the happiest and most comfortable.

Here are just a few of the reasons why older men and women prefer to age at home:

How much does a senior's home truly mean to them?

A study published by the American Society on Aging found that more than half of seniors say their home's emotional value means more than how much their home is worth in monetary value. It stands to reason, then, that a senior's home is where they want to grow old.

With the help of elderly care in Fort McKavett, TX, seniors don't have to age in a sterilized care facility. Instead, they can age gracefully in the place they want to be most: their home. In contrast, seniors who move to a long-term care facility must adapt to new environments, new people, and new systems that the facility implements. At this stage in life, this kind of drastic change can be more harmful than helpful.

Institutional care facilities like nursing homes often put large groups of people together to live in one location. On any given day, dozens of staff members and caregivers run in and out of these facilities. Being around so many new people in a relatively small living environment can be dangerous for a seniors' health and wellbeing. When you consider that thousands of seniors passed away in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, opting for in-home care is often a safer, healthier choice for seniors.

Aging in place has been shown to improve seniors' quality of life, which helps boost physical health and also helps insulate them from viral and bacterial risks found in elderly living facilities.

For many seniors, the ability to live independently with assistance from a caregiver is a priceless option. With in-home care, seniors experience a higher level of independence and freedom - much more so than in other settings like a nursing home. When a senior has the chance to age in place, they get to live life on their own terms, inside the house that they helped make into a home. More independence means more control over their personal lives, too, which leads to increased levels of fulfillment, happiness, and personal gratification. Over time, these positive feelings can manifest into a healthier, longer life.

More independence, a healthier life, and increased comfort are only a few benefits of aging in place. You have to take into consideration the role of cost and convenience. Simply put, it's usually easier and more affordable to help seniors age in place than it is to move them into an institutional care facility. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, seniors who age in the comfort of their homes can save thousands of dollars per month.

In-home care services from Always Best Care, for instance, are often less expensive than long-term solutions, which can cost upwards of six figures per year. To make matters worse, many residential care facilities are reluctant to accept long-term care insurance and other types of payment assistance.

With Always Best Care's home care services, seniors and their families have a greater level of control over their care plans. In-home care gives seniors the chance to form a bond with a trusted caregiver and also receive unmatched care that is catered to their needs. In long-term care facilities, seniors and their loved ones have much less control over their care plan and have less of a say in who provides their care.

 Elderly Care Fort McKavett, TX

Affordable Care

In-home care is a valuable resource that empowers seniors to age in place on their own terms. However, a big concern for many families and their loved ones is how much in-home care costs. If you're worried that in-home care is too expensive, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that it is one of the most affordable senior care arrangements available.

Typically, hiring an Always Best Care in-home caregiver for a few hours a week is more affordable than sending your loved one to a long-term care facility. This is true even for seniors with more complex care needs.

At Always Best Care, we will work closely with you and your family to develop a Care Plan that not only meets your care needs, but your budget requirements, too. Once we discover the level of care that you or your senior need, we develop an in-home care plan that you can afford.

In addition to our flexible care options, families should also consider the following resources to help offset potential home care costs:

If your loved one qualifies, Medicaid may help reduce in-home care costs. Review your TX's Medicaid program laws and benefits, and make sure your senior's financial and medical needs meet Medicaid eligibility requirements.
Attendance and aid benefits through military service can cover a portion of the costs associated with in-home care for veterans and their spouses.
Many senior care services like in-home care are included in long-term care insurance options. Research different long-term care solutions to find a plan that provides coverage for senior care.
Home care can be included as part of a senior's private insurance plan. Read over your loved one's insurance policy carefully or speak with their insurance provider to determine if in-home care is covered.
Depending on the life insurance plan, you may be able to apply your policy toward long-term care. You may be able to use long-term-care coverage to help pay for in-home elderly care.
 Senior Care Fort McKavett, TX

Compassionate Care. Trusted Caregivers.

When you or your senior loved one needs assistance managing daily tasks at home, finding a qualified caregiver can be challenging. It takes a special kind of person to provide reliable care for your senior loved one. However, a caregiver's role involves more than meal preparation and medication reminders. Many seniors rely on their caregivers for companionship, too.

Our companion care services give seniors the chance to socialize in a safe environment and engage in activities at home. These important efforts boost morale and provide much-needed relief from repetitive daily routines. A one-on-one, engaging conversation can sharpen seniors' minds and give them something in which to be excited.

At Always Best Care, we only hire care providers that we would trust to care for our own loved ones. Our senior caregivers in Fort McKavett, TX understand how important it is to listen and communicate with their seniors. A seemingly small interaction, like a short hug goodbye, can make a major difference in a senior's day. Instead of battling against feelings of isolation, seniors begin to look forward to seeing their caregiver each week.

Understanding the nuances of senior care is just one of the reasons why our care providers are so great at their job.

Unlike some senior care companies, our caregivers must undergo extensive training before they work for Always Best Care. In addition, our caregivers receive ongoing training throughout the year. This training ensures that their standard of care matches up to the high standards we've come to expect. During this training, they will brush up on their communication skills, safety awareness, and symptom spotting. That way, your loved one receives the highest level of non-medical home care from day one.

Assisted Living Referral Services

While it's true that many seniors prefer to age at home, sometimes in-home care isn't the best fit. For those seniors and their families, choosing an assisted living facility makes more sense. Unfortunately, finding the optimal care facility is easier said than done in today's day and age. That's when Always Best Care's assisted living referral services begin to make a lot of sense.

Assisted living is a form of housing intended for seniors who require varying degrees of medical and personal attention. Accommodations may include single rooms, apartments, or shared living arrangements. Assisted living communities are typically designed to resemble a home-like environment and are physically constructed to encourage the independence of residents.

Respite Care Fort McKavett, TX

At assisted living communities, seniors receive help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating. They may also benefit from coordination of services with outside healthcare providers, and monitoring of resident activities to ensure their health, safety, and well-being. Caregivers who work at assisted living communities can also provide medication administration and personal care services for older adults.

Other services offered within assisted living communities can include some or all of the following:

  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry
  • Recreational Activities
  • Social Outings
  • Emergency Medical Response
  • Medication Monitoring
  • Family Visitation
  • Personal Care
 Caregivers Fort McKavett, TX

At Always Best Care, our representatives can match your senior's emotional, physical, and financial needs with viable assisted living communities nearby. Results are based on comparative data, so you can select the best choice for you or your loved one.

Always Best Care works closely with local senior living communities to gain valuable knowledge that we then use to help seniors and their loved ones make informed decisions. This information can include basic care and rent, resident availability, and services provided. Because Always Best Care is compensated by these communities, we provide senior living referral services at no extra cost to you.

Some of the most popular assisted living communities to consider in our area include the following:

  • Menard Manor
  • The Whitestone Assisted Living
  • CelesteCare of Horseshoe Bay
  • Hill Country Preferred Senior Care, LLC
  • Midtowne Assisted Living and Memory Care
  • Fort McKavett State Historic Site
Home Care Fort McKavett, TX

For many seniors, moving into a senior living community revolves around how and when they want to make a transition to more involved care. Some seniors are more proactive about transitioning to independent living. Others choose to remain home until their care needs or other requirements are satisfied. Remember - our staff is here to help. Contact our office today to learn more about assisted living communities and how we can find a facility that exceeds your expectations.

 In-Home Care Fort McKavett, TX

Taking the First Step with Always Best Care

The first step in getting quality in-home care starts with a personal consultation with an experienced Always Best Care Care Coordinator. This initial consultation is crucial for our team to learn more about you or your elderly loved one to discover the level of care required. Topics of this consultation typically include:

A discussion of your needs and how our trained caregivers can offer assistance in the most effective way


A draft of your care plan, which includes highly detailed notes and a framework for the care that you or your senior will receive


Discuss payment options and help coordinate billing with your insurance provider


Our caregivers are trained to spot changes that clients exhibit, like mental and physical decline. As your trusted senior care company, we will constantly assess and update your Care Plan to meet any new emotional, intellectual, physical, and emotional needs.

If you have never considered in-home care before, we understand that you and your family may have concerns about your Care Plan and its Care Coordinator. To help give you peace of mind, know that every team member and caregiver must undergo comprehensive training before being assigned to a Care Plan.

At the end of the day, we only hire the best of the best at Always Best Care. Whether you need home care in Fort McKavett, TX 24-hours a day or only need a respite for a couple of hours, we are here to serve you.

When you're ready, we encourage you to contact your local Always Best Care representative to set up a Care Consultation. Our Care Coordinators would be happy to meet with you in person to get to know you better, discuss your needs, and help put together a personalized Care Plan specific to your needs.

 Elderly Care Fort McKavett, TX

Latest News in Fort McKavett, TX

A historic Hill Country fort is well worth a visit

FORT MCKAVETT — Earlier this week, I found myself bouncing around in a golf cart on the manicured grounds of this frontier fort northwest of Junction, pausing at restored barracks of whitewashed stone, handsome officers’ quarters and a small, well-designed museum in what used to be the fort hospital. My guide and driver was the site’s educator/curator, Kevin Malcolm, a young man who takes obvious pride in the history he oversees. He calls Fort McKavett “the hidden gem among Texas forts.”He’s right o...

FORT MCKAVETT — Earlier this week, I found myself bouncing around in a golf cart on the manicured grounds of this frontier fort northwest of Junction, pausing at restored barracks of whitewashed stone, handsome officers’ quarters and a small, well-designed museum in what used to be the fort hospital. My guide and driver was the site’s educator/curator, Kevin Malcolm, a young man who takes obvious pride in the history he oversees. He calls Fort McKavett “the hidden gem among Texas forts.”

He’s right on both counts: The state historic site is a gem and it’s hidden. When I stepped out of the car early Wednesday morning, I heard — nothing. No traffic noise, no people sounds, not even bird sounds in the stands of live oak, mesquite and cedar just beyond the grounds.

Malcolm tells me that McKavett, arguably the best-preserved frontier fort in the state, gets between 15 and 40 visitors — a week. He and I wandered around for a couple of hours and nobody showed up. It was a weekday and hot, but I got the impression visitors are a rarity most days. That’s partly because the fort is a 40-mile detour off the nearest interstate — most travelers on Interstate-10 just want to keep on truckin’ — and also because, unlike Fort Griffin and other state historic sites, McKavett doesn’t offer camping facilities.

Malcolm, a 29-year-old Aggie grad, is obsessed with all things military and with history, particularly Texas military history. With journals, papers and documents from the fort’s archive at his disposal and with 21 venerable limestone structures to look after, he’s in the right place, to be sure.

In the 1840s, German immigrants to this rugged western edge of the Hill Country were promised paradise among the grass-covered hills and clear, spring-fed streams. What they might not have understood is that paradise was perched on the precarious far edge of the frontier. Their homes, farms and small hamlets, if they managed to survive, would be a buffer zone between civilization back east and Comanches just over the next hill. Fort McKavett was a bead, so to speak, along a string of frontier forts the U.S. Army established to protect both immigrant settlements and travelers along the “upper road” from San Antonio to El Paso.

Built in 1852 on a hill above the south bank of the San Saba River, McKavett was considered one of the healthiest forts on the frontier. Cool breezes, pure spring water and a 36-acre vegetable garden on an island between the river and a tributary helped make frontier life bearable for 600 soldiers, including officers and their families and assorted fort personnel. Gen. William T. Sherman once described McKavett as “the prettiest post in Texas.”

In 1876, Elliott Roosevelt, Teddy’s sickly younger brother, visited Fort McKavett seeking relief from his chronic asthma. He loved the place, and only “good taste,” a chronicler recalled, prompted him to leave.

“He loved to watch the wiggle-tailed prairie dogs, always a source of never-ending amusement to him,” a writer named M.L. Crimmins wrote in a 1944 edition of Southwestern Historical Quarterly, “and he made no attempt to shoot them, as many thoughtless people do, for they are not considered edible, except in an emergency.”

Presumably, Roosevelt did not visit Scabtown, the scruffy, little settlement down the hill from the fort. With its gambling houses, saloons and bordellos and with assorted camp followers occupying shacks and dugouts along the river, it was everything the local temperance group warned young soldiers to avoid. Even though the group’s meeting hall was on the path headed downhill from the fort, I’m assuming the soldiers kept on walking, spurning the straight and narrow.

By the late 1850s, the Penateka Comanche had withdrawn from the Hill Country, and in 1859 McKavett was ordered abandoned. Civilian families living in the area took over the post buildings.

The fort reopened in 1868 when hostilities between settlers and the Comanches flared up again after the Civil War. Soldiers of the 41st infantry, commanded by Col. Ranald MacKenzie, arrived the next year. The 41st was one of the army’s six regiments made up of black enlisted personnel and white officers. According to the website Texas Beyond History, the 41st was a well-drilled regiment when it arrived at McKavett, but it was new to frontier warfare. Soon afterward, the unit consolidated with another black regiment, the 38th, to form the new 24th Infantry. Mackenzie, perhaps the best-known Indian fighter of the post-Civil War era, launched several expeditions from Fort McKavett, usually with black soldiers under his command.

Curator Malcolm likes to tell the story of a Reconstruction-era experiment involving McKavett’s black soldiers. Beginning in 1868, the fort held classes for them in reading, writing and geography. Most were freed slaves; just a few years earlier, teaching them to read and write would have been illegal. After the Army abandoned McKavett in 1883, the classroom building became the local public school. It stayed open until 1953.

Once the Army left for good, civilians — including the more stable of the Scabtown merchants — took over the abandoned buildings, and Fort McKavett became a small but thriving commercial center for the Edwards Plateau sheep- and goat-raising industry. After the railroads passed it by, population peaked at about 150. That was nearly a century ago.

Fort McKavett became a ghost town where shoving over old stone walls became a popular Saturday-night pastime for area high-school kids. The venerable two-story residence of the fort’s commanding officer, now the most prominent ruin on the site, burned decades after civilians moved in. Its occupants had left a fire burning on the stove when they raced to a neighbor’s house to listen to urgent breaking news on the radio. The date was Dec. 7, 1941.

Years ago, my daughters and I spent a weekend night in one of the Fort McKavett buildings during a brief period when the state apparently was trying to figure out how to make historic sites self-sustaining. Heather recalls waking up on that Sunday morning eye to eye with a tarantula on the windowsill inches from her bed. She hasn’t been back since, although that could be because she lives in LA.

I saw no tarantulas this week, but I did see a fascinating historic site that deserves more attention than it gets. Sherman and other old soldiers who knew the place, including Gen. Abner Doubleday (who did not invent baseball), would likely tell you, as would a president’s younger brother, that Fort McKavett is well worth a detour off the Interstate.

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UPDATE Schleicher County fire burning mostly on ranch of Matthew McConaughey’s brother

Thursday update: A Schleicher County grassfire that started Wednesday had burned 1,200 acres and was 90 percent contained, said Joey Jones, Eldorado Volunteer Fire Department chief.He said welding on the Tisdale Ranch started the fire, but most of the fire burned on the McConaughey Ranch, owned by Matthew McConaughey’s brother, Mike "Rooster" McConaughey.Firefighters left about 9 p.m. as the Texas A&M Forest Service worked through the night to cut lines around the fire....

Thursday update:

A Schleicher County grassfire that started Wednesday had burned 1,200 acres and was 90 percent contained, said Joey Jones, Eldorado Volunteer Fire Department chief.

He said welding on the Tisdale Ranch started the fire, but most of the fire burned on the McConaughey Ranch, owned by Matthew McConaughey’s brother, Mike "Rooster" McConaughey.

Firefighters left about 9 p.m. as the Texas A&M Forest Service worked through the night to cut lines around the fire.

“Right now, we are standing by to hear if the lines hold in this wind,” Jones said.

Anything that’s still smoldering is contained and firefighters can’t do anything but let it burn itself out, he said.


Original story:

Firefighters from multiple departments responded to grass fire blazing through the countryside near Eldorado on Wednesday afternoon.

The Eldorado Success reported firefighters were called to the scene on County Road 300, Dunagan/Tisdale Ranch, about 1:18 p.m.

“When we got here it was already pretty involved,” said Joey Jones, Eldorado Volunteer Fire Department chief.

The department called in help from fire departments in Sonora, Christoval, Pecan Creek and Fort McKavett.

The fire spread and fingered out along County Road 316, about 10 miles northeast of Eldorado.

The fire consumed about 1,000 acres, and about 25 percent was contained at 7 p.m.

“It will probably run up to the road (County Road 316) and hopefully we can catch it there and keep it from jumping,” he said.

Jones said earlier in the day the fire looked like it might threaten some structures, but it moved away. No one was injured.

Jones was unsure when they will have the fire contained because of driving conditions in the dark for the forest service dozers.

“The grass was so thick and dry, it was really hard to do anything with it,” he said. “If we don’t get any rain quick, we will see a lot of this.”

Jones was not yet able to comment on how the fire was started.

Deep in the heart: Follow history on the Texas Forts Trail

Take in the backroad scenery and rich history found deep in the heart of Texas on the Texas Forts Trail.The forts in this area were once outposts in the wild frontier. The federal government located them across the state to protect the settlers coming to the west. From 1848 to 1900 the U.S. Army built 44 posts and more than 100 temporary camps in Texas.The trail is a 650-mile loop that travels through 29 counties in the central part of the state around Abilene. On the trail are eight historic frontier forts, unique and interest...

Take in the backroad scenery and rich history found deep in the heart of Texas on the Texas Forts Trail.

The forts in this area were once outposts in the wild frontier. The federal government located them across the state to protect the settlers coming to the west. From 1848 to 1900 the U.S. Army built 44 posts and more than 100 temporary camps in Texas.

The trail is a 650-mile loop that travels through 29 counties in the central part of the state around Abilene. On the trail are eight historic frontier forts, unique and interesting communities, and nearby attractions. Visitors can do all or part of the trail. Not only will travelers see what life was like in the days of the Texas forts but also modern Texas life.

The eight forts are anchored by the Spanish Presidio San Saba. Some things travelers will see along the trail:

— Fort Richardson was home to soldiers who helped law officers keep the peace. They pursued criminals, deserters and more. Seven of the 55 structures are restored. Visitors can tour the hospital and grounds.

— The town of Mineral Wells leads the way to Fort Belknap. It is where mineral wells were discovered in the 1800s and today is a resort and spa destination. Fort Belknap was built in 1851 and housed troops that protected the Butterfield Overland Mail route. Remains of the fort, a museum and park are available for visitors.

— A little farther west on the trail is Abilene, a boom town created by the Texas and Pacific Railway that came through the area in the 1880s. It is considered to be the frontier’s center of culture with ballet companies, museums, theater groups and the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature. Visitors can walk in the footsteps of the soldiers who once occupied Fort Phantom Hill, built in 1851. It was a resting place for the Goodnight-Loving Cattle Trail, a camp for the Confederate Frontier Battalion, a sub-post for Fort Griffin and a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail Route. Visitors can follow trails among the ruins.

— About 45 minutes northeast from Abilene is Fort Griffin Historic Site near Albany. Remnants of a mess hall, sergeant’s quarters and barracks are found here. A visitors center with campsites, a nature trail and the official state of Texas Longhorn herd are found here, along with access to the Clear Fork of the Brazos River. Today’s travelers will drive past many wind turbines on the way to the historic fort.

— Fort Chadbourne was established in 1852 and has quite a history. The Butterfield Overland Mail Company stagecoach stopped at the fort four times a week. Left today are ruins of the structures, but some buildings have been restored, and during the process thousands of artifacts were found.

— Fort Concho was established in 1867 on the banks of the Concho River and was headquarters for many units. Restored, the fort now has exhibit halls, a visitor center, archives and a museum. Volunteers perform reenactments, and festivals are held throughout the year.

— Fort McKavett was an Army post built in 1852. Today visitors can tour the restored buildings and a visitors center with exhibits telling the stories of the days of the fort’s operation. The site often has events throughout the year.

— Robert E. Lee’s last command post was at Fort Mason. Visitors can see the reproduction of the officers’ quarters at the museum.

— Presidio San Saba was constructed in 1757 with the idea to protect Spanish interests throughout the region. The mission was burned down a year after it was built and later, in 1936, was reconstructed to preserve the archeological remains. Interpreters are on site to answer questions and guide visitors.

Frontier Texas in Abilene acts as the regional headquarters for the Texas Forts Trail, as the forts surround the city. This history museum also acts as the visitor center for Abilene.

Visit for hours and information.

The fort trail is marked on Texas highways by signs, and maps are available at Because of COVID-19, some sites are closed or have limited hours.

Bugle Call at Fort McKavett

“The prettiest post in Texas” is how General of the Army William Tecumseh Sherman described Fort McKavett in 1871. Still meriting Sherman’s designation 138 years later, Fort McKavett State Historic Site perches above the San Saba River in Menard County on a grassy hilltop. Its 16 completely restored, whitewashed-limestone barracks, hospital, and headquarters (several other buildings are partially restored or in ruins) comprise what has been called the best preserved, most intact example of a Texas frontier fort.In th...

“The prettiest post in Texas” is how General of the Army William Tecumseh Sherman described Fort McKavett in 1871. Still meriting Sherman’s designation 138 years later, Fort McKavett State Historic Site perches above the San Saba River in Menard County on a grassy hilltop. Its 16 completely restored, whitewashed-limestone barracks, hospital, and headquarters (several other buildings are partially restored or in ruins) comprise what has been called the best preserved, most intact example of a Texas frontier fort.

In the quiet that surrounds Fort McKavett, it’s easy to imagine bugle calls, the creak of saddlery, and the snort of horses. It looks like the 600 soldiers posted here and their families moved out only yesterday.

Fort McKavett was a link in a chain of frontier forts—including forts Chadbourne, Belknap, Mason and Phantom Hill—that protected Western travelers and settlers. Fort McKavett soldiers escorted wagon trains and mail coaches, scouted the region, and built roads and telegraph lines. Patrols of 15 to 25 soldiers rode out for several days to a few weeks at a time, sometimes skirmishing with hostile raiding parties, but never fighting in large-scale battles.

Built in 1852 by the 8th Infantry near the source of the San Saba River, and set on the San Antonio-to-El Paso road, Fort McKavett was originally named Camp San Saba. Soldiers quarried nearby stone and felled oaks for the fort, which was renamed for an officer in the Mexican-American War. Abandoned in 1859, when the region appeared peaceful, Fort McKavett was reopened in 1868, and rebuilt and expanded in 1869, by General Ranald Mackenzie’s troops when the Army resumed its protection campaigns after the Civil War.

No palisades surround the fort. Visibility from the elevated site precluded attacks, according to Colonel Richard McTaggart, founding president of Friends of Fort McKavett and a retired U.S. Army officer.

McTaggart’s ancestors took shelter in the temporarily abandoned fort in 1866, when they arrived in the San Saba area. His mother witnessed the wagon train that transferred remains from the fort’s cemetery after the post closed. And, as a child in 1937, McTaggart took part in a spelling bee in Fort McKavett’s one-room school. Many years earlier, that school had conducted classes for the fort’s African-American soldiers, who were promised an education as part of their enlistment agreement.

The black troops of Fort McKavett’s Tenth Cavalry were the first to be called Buffalo Soldiers by the Comanches, in reference to their buffalo-like tenacity. Companies of all four Buffalo Soldier regiments were stationed at Fort McKa-vett during its heyday. The segregated units of Buffalo Soldiers did the same work and received the same pay and honors as their white peers. One African-American soldier stationed at Fort McKavett, Sgt. Emmanuel Stance, saved a wagon train under attack. For his bravery, Stance was awarded the Medal of Honor, the first African-American so honored after the Civil War.

A self-guided walking tour starts at the high-ceilinged post hospital, ingeniously ventilated by a system that draws cool air in from open windows and expels it through a long cupola. The interpretive center here uses photos and artifacts to present the routines of everyday life at the fort—hauling water barrels from Government Springs, preparing mounted patrols to ride out, unloading wagon trains from San Antonio (seven days away) piled with tobacco and other supplies.

The Dead House, or morgue, displays primitive medical equipment and describes concoctions laced with cocaine, opium, or morphine, which were used to treat illnesses. Fort McKavett surgeons amputated limbs for frostbite, gunshot wounds, and dislocations in those days before antibiotics. On Officers’ Row, where bachelor and married junior officers lived, an officer’s portable desk, folding chairs, and a thin railing six feet above the floor-for hanging coats and pictures-reveal a nomadic existence. Three rooms accommodated a senior bachelor officer, while two adjacent rooms provided a cozy if frugal lifestyle for a more junior officer and his family.

The Army preferred that wives not live on frontier posts, though, and a junior officer’s family could be bumped from a house to a tent if a senior officer wanted the space.

Most enlisted men and their families lived in tents or huts in contrast to the spacious, multi-windowed ranking captain’s quarters, which is decorated with 1870s luxuries like a piano and a stereopticon, or “magic lantern” slide projector. Spurred cavalry boots stand in the front hall, and mosquito netting hangs over a bed. The window shutters kept varmints out at night, but not the breeze. Other quarters display surveyors’ instruments, rock samples, and an arrowhead collection. One crumbled barracks, which could house 300 men during the fort’s heyday, was the longest barracks in the Texas fort system.

The view from the fort’s para de grounds has barely changed through the years—no power lines or communications towers intrude on the past. But the yucca, horse crippler, hoarhound, and bluebonnets that now dot the parade grounds in season would never have grown where troops assembled for meals and drills.

Fort McKavett functioned like a small village. As a regimental headquarters, it had military bands for entertainment. The bakery turned out several hundred loaves of bread daily, for soldiers’ suppers often consisted only of bread and coffee after a large midday meal. The San Saba River irrigated a 31-acre garden and the horse pasture. A blacksmith, laundresses, tailors, and stable hands helped sustain the community, while a guardhouse confined the disobedient. Outside the fort, a settlement known as Scabtown offered saloons, gambling halls, and other diversions in exchange for the soldiers’ meager pay.

The Army withdrew from Fort McKavett on June 30, 1883. As Company D, 16th U.S. Infantry marched away, the residents of Scabtown moved into the sturdy buildings. Their occupancy of the fort until 1968 kept it from falling into ruins.

When you visit the fort, be sure to explore the old cemetery, which lies a half-mile away. At its center, a grassy area without markers is the resting place of several soldiers, family members, and civilians that the Friends of McKavett identified from post records.

Isolated now as then, Fort McKavett State Historic Site shares its unsullied night skies with amateur astronomers at star-gazing parties. Just think: Under the same view of distant stars, the soldiers of another century listened to the bugler playing “Taps.”

From the March 2009 issue

Fort McKavett – A Treasure Trove of History

By John HallowellFort McKavett was established in March of 1852 by five companies of the U.S. 8th Infantry to protect West Texas settlers and serve as a rest stop for California-bound travelers in the years following the 1849 gold rush. The fort originally consisted of five infantrymen’s barracks, kitchens used temporarily as officers quarters, a hospital, and a quartermaster’s storehouse, all built of local logs and limestone around a square parade ground. Each company was responsible for constructing its...

By John Hallowell

Fort McKavett was established in March of 1852 by five companies of the U.S. 8th Infantry to protect West Texas settlers and serve as a rest stop for California-bound travelers in the years following the 1849 gold rush. The fort originally consisted of five infantrymen’s barracks, kitchens used temporarily as officers quarters, a hospital, and a quartermaster’s storehouse, all built of local logs and limestone around a square parade ground. Each company was responsible for constructing its own quarters, and those of its officers.

The post was improved substantially through the mid-1850s. Lumber for floors or doors was shipped from Fredericksburg, as was glass for windows. New construction included a two-story quarters for the commanding officer and a one-story barracks for other officers, an adjutant’s office, a guardhouse, a new bakery and kitchens, as well as quarters for the fort’s laundresses. A civilian “parasite” settlement of gambling dens, stores, and saloons grew up about a mile north of the post. It was known as “Scabtown,” and became notorious for violence and vice.

The activity came to an end in 1859, when Fort McKavett was abandoned; there had been a decline in Indian trouble and most of the California traffic was taking a more southerly route. With the military gone, most of the civilians scattered, and the fort was allowed to deteriorate for almost a decade.

During the Civil War, the emboldened Comanches made life very dangerous for settlers on the western frontier, and when peace had been restored between North and South, the U.S. Army reoccupied Fort McKavett.

It was the spring of 1868 when elements of the U.S. Army’s 4th Cavalry and 35th Infantry arrived at Fort McKavett. The post was described as “one mass of ruins” with only one habitable house, the former commanding officer’s quarters. The troops lived in tents while repair and new construction were undertaken.

The next year took on a historic significance with the arrival of the 41st Infantry and its commanding officer, Colonel Ranald Mackenzie. The 41st was one of only six regiments—four of infantry, two of cavalry—having black enlisted personnel and white officers. These so-called “Buffalo Soldiers” and their commanding officer would go on to become some of the foremost Indian fighters of the post-Civil War army.

According to the website,, the 41st Infantry was a well-drilled regiment when it arrived at Fort McKavett, but was new to frontier warfare. Army reorganization resulted in consolidation of the 41st and the 38th—also a black regiment with white officers, but one with substantial western service—to form the new 24th Infantry. Mackenzie imported five civilian carpenters and six stonemasons who, together with the soldiers of the 24th , began substantial improvement and expansion of the post, soon to be considered one of the best in Texas.

Sergeant Emmanuel Stance, of the 9th Cavalry, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions in two 1870 battles. A post schoolhouse was constructed in 1874 to provide an education for enlisted men, particularly those who had been slaves. Many of the men learned to read and write in classes, often taught by the post chaplain, held at the end of the work day at Fort McKavett.

The “parasite” community regrouped as the fort established itself as a major supply depot providing food and provisions for most of the military campaigns, scientific and mapping explorations and other forts in West Texas. Racism added to the trials of the “Buffalo Soldiers,” and in one notorious incident, three soldiers were murdered by some of the settlers they were protecting (reportedly because one had written a love letter to a white girl). Nevertheless, they did their jobs well (for the most part), and their accomplishments earned the respect of friends and foes.

By 1880, the Comanche threat had ended, and Fort McKavett no longer had a military mission. The post was ordered abandoned in 1882, but the large quantity of supplies stored there required extension of the order for a year. The last garrison, a company of the 16th Infantry, was transferred to Fort McIntosh on the Rio Grande.

Many of the civilians from “Scabtown” moved into the fort when the army left, and by the mid-1890s, Fort McKavett was a thriving commercial center with three churches, two hotels, a broom and mattress factory, a weekly newspaper, and eighty residents. The population peaked at about 150 in the late 1920s, but there were still people living in the old buildings of the abandoned fort in 1968, when Fort McKavett was designated a state historic site.

The site includes more than two dozen structures, many of which are preserved or restored, and is the planned home of the department’s Buffalo Soldiers Program archives. The 80th Texas Legislature transferred operational control of this site from Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) to the Texas Historical Commission effective January 1, 2008.


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