William Corner.

San Antonio de Bexar; a guide and history online

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with paint, powder, flannel, blankets and such other articles as they .should name
to ransom the other captives. This course had been adopted once before, and when
the traders reached the Indian camp the smallpox broke out amongst them, and
they killed the traders, alleging that they had introduced the disease to kill off the
Indians. After the slaughter thej- retained both the captives and the goods. Now,
the Americans, mindful of the treachery and duplicity of the Indians, an.swered as
follows :

" ' We will, according to a former agreement, keep four or five of your chiefs
and the others of you shall go to your Nation and bring all the captives here, and
then we will pa}^ all you ask for them. Meanwhile, the chiefs we hold we will
treat as brothers, and not one hair of their heads shall be injured. This we have
determined upon, and if you resist our soldiers wall shoot you down.'

" The above ultimatum being interpreted, the Comanches, instantl)^ and as
one man, raised a terrific war-whoop, drew their bows and arrows and com-
menced firing with deadly effect, at the same time endeavoring to break out of the
Council Hall. The order, ' Fire ! ' was given by Capt. Howard and the soldiers
fired into the midst of the crowd. The first volley killed several Indians and two
of our own people. Soon, all rushed out into the pubhc square, the civilians to
procure arms, the Indians to escape and the soldiers in clo.se pursuit. The Indians
generally .struck out for the River. Some fled southeast towards Bowen's Bend,
some ran east on Commerce street and some north on Soledad. Soldiers and citi-
zens pursued and overtook them at all points: Some w^ere shot in the River and
some in the streets. Several hand-to-hand encounters took place, and .some
Indians took refuge in stone houses and closed the doors. Not one of the sixty-five
Indians escaped ; thirty-three were killed and thirty-two taken prisoners.

" Six Americans and one Mexican were killed and ten Americans wounded.
Our killed were Julian Hood the Sheriff, Judge Thomp.son an attorney from
South Carolina, G. W. Cayce, from the Brazos, and one officer and two .soldiers
and one Mexican whose names I did not learn. Those severely wounded were
Lieutenant Thompson brother of the Judge, Captain Tom Howard, Captain Mat.
Caldwell a citizen volunteer from Gonzales, Judge Robinson, Mr. Morgan Deputy
Sheriff, Mr. Higginbotham and two soldiers. Some others were .slightly wounded.

"When the deafening war-whoop sounded in llie Court Room, it was so loud
and shrill, so .sudden and inexpressibly horrible, that we women, looking through
the fence cracks, for a moment could not comprehend its purport. The Indian
boys, however, instantly recognized its meaning, and turning their arrows upon
Judge Robinson and other gentlemen standing nearby, slew the Judge on the .spot.



MlvMOTRS OI' MRS. M. A. MAVI-:RICK. 101

We fled precipitately, Mrs. Higgiiibotliain into her house and I across the street to
my Commerce street door. Two Indians rushed by me on Com'ne-ce *acet and
another reached my door, and turned to push it, just as I slanuneil it to and iieat
down the heavy bar. I rushed into tlie house and in tlic north njoni found my
husband and my brother Andrew sitting calmly at a table inspecting some plats of
surveys. They had heard nothing ! I soon gave them the alarm, and hurried by to
look after my bo)-s. Mr. Maverick and Andrew seized their arms. Mr. Maverick
rushed into the street and Andrew into the back yard where I was, now shouting
at the top of my voice, ' Here are Indians ! Here are Indians ! ' Three Indians
had gotten in through the gate on Soledad street and were making towards the
River. One had stopped near Jinny Anderson, our cook, who stood bravely in
front of the children, mine and hers. vShe held a great stone in her hands, lifted
above her head, and I heard her cry out to the Indians : ' G'way from heah, or
I'll mash your head with this rock ! ' The Indian seemed regretful that he hadn't
time to dispatch Jinny and her l)rood ; but his time was short, and, pausing but a
moment, he turned and rushed down the bank, jumped into the River and struck
out for the o])i)osite shore. As tlie Indian hurried down tlie bank my brother ran
out in answer to my loud calls. While the Indian was swimtning, Andrew drew
his unerring bead on him. Another Indian was climbing the opposite bank
and was about to escape, but Andrew brought him down also. Then Andrew
rushed up Soledad .street looking for more Indians.

" I housed my little ones and then looked out of the Soledad .street door.
Near by was stretched an Indian wounded and dying. A large man, an employe
of Mr. Higginbotham, came up just then and aimed a pistol at the Indian's head.
I called out, ' Oh, don't ; he is dying ! ' and the big American laughed and said,
' Well, to please you I won't ; but it would put him out of his misery.' Then I
saw two others lying dead near by.

" Captain I^ysander Wells, about this time, passed by riding north on Soledad
street. He was mounted on a gaily capari.soned Mexican horse, with .silver-
mounted saddle and bridle, which outfit he had secured to take back to his native
State on a visit to his mother. As he reached the Veramendi house, an Indian
who had escaped detecticm, rushed out from his hiding place, and jumping upon
the horse behind Wells, clasped his arms and tried to catch hold of the bridle reins.
The two men struggled some time, bent back and forwards and swa>ed from sick-
to side, until at last. Wells managed to hold the Indian's arms with his right hand
and with his left to draw his pistol from the holster. He turned partly round,
placed the pistol against the Indian's body and fired, — a moment more and the
Indian rolled off and dropped dead to the ground. Wells put spurs to his horse
and did good service in the piu'suit.

" I had become so fascinated by this struggle that 1 had unconsciously gone
into the middle of the street, when Lieutenant Chevalier, who was pa.ssing, called
out to me : ' Are 3'ou crazy ? Go in or you will be killed ? ' I obeyed ; but my
curiosity and anxiety again got the better of me, cuid I peeped out on Commerce
street where I saw the dead bodies of four or fi\-e Indians. ... It was dark
when Mr. Maverick and Andrew returned. ...



102 SAN ANTONIO DK BKXAR.

" Stev'eial incidents occurred soon after the fight of the lUth which are worth
7;,aiTating,. Qn. March 28th, 250 or 300 Comanches under a dashing young chief,
Isiniauica, cauie close to the edge of the town, where the main body halted, while
Chief Isimanica and another w^arrior rode daringly into the Public Square and
circled around the Plaza, then rode some distance down Commerce street and back,
shouting all the while, offering to fight, and heaping abuse and insults on the
Americans. Isimanica was in full war-paint and almost naked, He stopped quite
a while in front of Bluck's saloon, on the northeast corner of the square. He
shouted defiance, ro.se in his stirrups, shook his clenched fist, raved, and foamed at
the mouth.

" The citizens, through an interpreter, told him that the soldiers were all
down at the Mission San Jo.se de Aguayo, and that if he went there Colonel Fisher
would give him fight enough.

' ' Isimanica took his braves to San Jose, and with fearless daring bantered the
.soldiers for a fight. Colonel Fisher was sick in bed and Captain Redd, the next in
rank, was in command. He said to the chief: ' We have made a twelve days'
truce with your people, in order to exchange prisoners. My country's honor is
pledged, as well as my own, to keep the truce, and I will not break it. Remain
here three days, or return in three days, and the truce will be over. We burn to
fight you.' Isimanica called him 'liar,' 'coward,' and other opprobrious
names, and hung around for some time ; but; at last, the Indians left and did not
return. Captain Redd remained calm and unmoved throughout this stormy talk,
but his men could with difficulty be restrained ; and, in fact, some of them were
ordered into the Mission church and guarded there.

"When Captain I^ysander Wells, who was in town, heard of all this, he wrote
Captain Redd a letter, in which he called him a ' dastardly coward, ' and alluded
to a certain petticoat government, under which he intimated the Captain was
restrained. This allusion had reference to a young woman who, dressed in boy's
apparel, had followed Redd from Georgia and was now living with him. This
letter of Wells was signed, much to their shame, by several others in San Antonio.

"Colonel P'isher removed his entire force of three companies to the Alamo in
San Antonio. Redd challenged Wells to mortal combat, and one morning at G
o'clock they met where the Ursuhne Convent now stands. Facing his antagonist,
Redd coolly remarked: ' I aim for your heart ' ; and Wells replied: 'And 1 for
your brains.' They fired! Redd sprang into the air, and fell dead with a bullet
in his brain. Wells, too, in fulfillment of their fearful repartee, was shot very near
the heart ; he, however, li^•ed a fortnight in great agony, begging every- one near
him to dispatch him or furnish him with a pistol to kill him.self. Dr. Weidemann, of
whom more anon, nursed him tenderh'. It turned out that the girl before referred
to was married to Redd, and they found the marriage license and ccrtificale in his
pocket ; also letters to members of his own and her families, .speaking of her in the
tenderest manner and asking them to protect and provide for her. She followed
him to the grave and seemed heart-1)roken, and soon thereafter returned to her
peoi)le." ....



M1':M()IRS Ol' MRS. M. A. M.WI'RICK. 103

Mrs. Maverick ^iN'^^s lcrril)le accounts of the fearful treatment of captives by the
Indians, and her narrative is another warrant for the behef that the only "good

Indian is a dead one."

"Matilda Lockhart, who came in on March 10th, had been in captivity about
two )ears. When she was taken, two of her family were slain and she and her
little sister were taken prisoners. At that time she was thirteen and her sister
three years old. She came along with the Indian party as a herder driving a herd
of extra hor.ses — thus the Indians could change horses from time to time for

fresher ones She was in a frightful condition, poor girl Her head,

arms and face were full of brui.ses and sores, and her nose actually Inirned off to
the bone.

••March 26th, Mrs. Webster came in with her three-year-old child on her back.
The poor, miserable being was so unlike a white woman that the Mexicans hailed
her as ' Indio ! Indio ! ' She came into the Public Square from the west and
was dressed as an Indian, in buckskin, her hair was cut short and square upon her
forehead, and she was sunburned dark as a Comanche. She called out in good
English, however, saying she had escaped from Indian captivity. She was im-
mediately taken into John W. Smith's house, and we American ladies gathered
to see her and care for her. She was very tired and hungry and almost exhausted.
Her story was as follows: She came to Texas from Virginia early in 1885,
with her hu.sband, who, she claimed, was a relative of Daniel Webster. They built
a house northeast of Austin; and in August of that year her husband was removing
her and her four children to to this wild home. They had also in the party two
negroes and one white man. The>- were camped one evening on Brushy Creek,
not far north of Austin, when a large l)ody of Comanches suddenly attacked them.
The three men fought bravely, but were overpowered and killed. Mrs. Webster's
infant was taken from her arms and its brains dashed out against a tree and her
second child killed. She and her eldest boy, ' Booker ' were tied upon horses
and she held her child of two years so tightly to her breast and pleaded so pite-
ously for its life that the Indians left it with her. They were taken by rapid
marches to the mountains, where they stripped ' Booker ' and shaved his head.
He was attacked with brain fever, and an old squaw, who had just lost a son of
his age, adopted him and nursed him very tenderly. The Indians let her keep her
little girl, but forbade her talking to her son. They made her cook and stake out
ponies and beat her continually. She had been nineteen months in captivity when
she seized a favorable opportunity to escape. It was one night after a long day's
march, when, having learned the general direction of San Antonio, she quietly
.slipped out of camp with her child in her arms and bent her steps towards Bexar.
She spent twelve terrible days on the road without meeting a human being. She
sustained herself all this while on berries, small fish which she caught in the
streams and on bones which she sucked and chewed. Sometimes she gave up and

almost resigned herself to death The morning of the 2(;th a fog came on,

and unable to see any distance thiough the fog, she gave up all for lost and lay
down in utter despair. Soon the sun shone out and the fog disappeared, when,
looking towards the East, she saw a "golden cro.ss shining in the sky." Then
she felt that God had answered her prayers, and again took up the march w^ith a



104 SAN ANTONIO DE BEXAR.

thankful heart. She approached the g^oldeii cross with earnest steps. It proved
to be the cross of the Cathedral of San Eernando'"^ in San Antonio "

In the j^reat raid to Lavaca Bay, in August, IS 10, when Linnville was
sacked and General Eelix Houston inflicted a memorable defeat on the Indians,
Mrs. Maverick lost man}- household effects en 7'oute from New Orleans. Amongst
other things, was a set of law books for Mr. Maverick. These were heard from
as being " tacked b^- strings to the Indians' saddle-bows and then used as cigar-
ette papers. This shows how little respect the Indians had for Blackstone and
the law."

The temptation to quote is constant ; in 1841 we read about the society of
San Antonio as follows :

" We began, now, to have a society and great sociability amongst ourselves,
the Americans. During this summer, 1841, Mr. Wilson Riddle brought his bride
and Mr. Moore his famil}-. These gentlemen were both merchants on Commerce
street. Mr. John Twohig (the present banker) started a small grocery on the cor-
ner of Commerce street and Main Plaza. Mrs. Jaques had a boarding house at south
west corner of Commerce and Yturri streets. She had a considerable place rented
from Yturri, boarded all the nice young Americans, and was very hospitable and
pleasant. She was a good nurse, very kind to the sick and wounded, and was

very popular with the gentlemen President Eamar, with a very

considerable suite, visited San Antonio in June. A grand ball was given him in
Mrs. Yturri's ' long room,' — all considerable houses had a ' long room ' for recep-
tions — the room was decorated with flags and evergreens, flowers were not much
cultivated then ; at the ball General lyamar wore very wide trousers which, at the
same time, were short enough to show the tops of his shoes. The General and
Mrs. Juan N. Seguin, wife of the Mayor, opened the ball with a waltz.
We were forced to smile, for the gallant President, although a poet and a first rate
conversationalist, could not dance. ... At this ball Hays, Chevalier and
Howard had but one dress coat between them, and the}- agreed to use the
coat and dance in turn ; the ones not dancing would stand at the door and watch
the happy tenant of the garment disporting himself on the floor, at the same time
continually making faces to remind him that his time was up. Their by-play and
good humor furnished quite a diversion and amused us very much

" During this summer the American ladies led a lazy life of ease. We h;ul
plenty of books, including novels. We were all young, healthy and happy, and
were content with each other's .society. We read, joked and laughed away the
time and in those days there were no envyings and no backbiting. . . . Now
that merchants were establishing themselves on Commerce street, l)athing at our
place had become rather public, so we ladies got permission of old Senora
Treviiio to erect a bath house on her premises, some distance north on Soledad
street, afterwards the homestead of the Jaques family. Thither we went in a
crowd every afternoon at about four o'clock, taking the children and their nurses
with us and a dainty lunch prepared ])>' one of us in turn to eat after tlie ixUli."

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SKETCHES OF WESTERN TEXAS.
COWTSOV l.IFE.



MI'MOIRS ()!• MRS. M. A. M .WlvRICK. 105

An eccentric characteroftho.se ilays was a Doctor Weidemann,— his memory
i.s worth keeping- green as showing that the present cosmopolitan characteristics
of San Antonio are congenital, so to speak. . . . "He was a Rnssian scholar
and naturalist, and an excellent physician and surgeon ; a highly cultivated man
and spoke many languages, and he had been a great traveler. He lived on the
old Chavez place on Acequia street. I remember that on the night of the Indian
fight of March 19th, 1840, I visited Mrs. Higginbotham, as I have before stated.
While I was there Dr. Weidemann came up to her grated front window and
placed a severed Indian head upon the sill. The good Doctor i^owed courteously,
and saying: 'With your permis.sion, Madam,' disappeared. Presently he
returned with another bloody head, when he explained to us that he had exam-
ined all the dead Indians and had selected these heads, male and female, for the
skulls. ])e.sides two entire bodies, to preserve as skeletons. He saiil, ' I have
been longing exceedingly to secure such specimens, and now. ladies. I must get
a cart to take them home.' Dr. Weidemann had taken an active part in the
fight, and done good service mounted on his fine horse, and now he was all
begrimed, bloody and dirty, the result of his labors as a warrior, surgeon and
scientist. He soon returned with the cart loaded with his magnificent speci-
mens, took the two heads from the window and departed

That night he stewed the bodies in a soap boiler, and when the flesh was com-
pletely dessicated, emptied the cauldron into the Ace(iuia. Now, this ditch
furnished the drinking water generally for the town ; it being understood that
the River and the San Pedro were reserved for bathing and washing. There was
a city ordinance to this effect coupled with a heavy fine. On the 21st it dawned
upon the dwellers on the banks of the ditch that the Doctor had defiled the
drinking water,and that probably they had taken in particles of Indian in their fluid.
The people, very properly, gathered in indignation, a niol; rushed to the Mayor's
office, the men talked in loud and excited tones, tlic women shrieked and cried,
they rolled up their eyes in horror, they vomited, and some of them were so
frightened that they suffered mis-carriage. Many thought they were poisoned
and would die. Dr. Weidemann was arrested and brought to trial : they
overwhelmed him with abuse, and called him ' diablo,' ' demonio.'
'.sin verguen/.a,' and so forth. He took it calmly, assured them the
Indians had all sailed by in the night, paid his fine, and went away
laughing. Once the Doctor lost his watch. He suspected one of his
servants — Jo.se ; and after waiting in vain for him to confess and give
up the property, he determined to get his own again by magic. He invited
a party to .see the fun, and arraying himself in a figured gown and a
conical hat. and ])reparing a fire and cauldron on the roof of his house, he
summoned all his servants to his presence and announced that they were all to
dip their hands into the pot : at the same time informing them that the hand of
the guilty one would turn black. The con.science-stricken Jose waited till the
last, all the others had come through the ordeal with clean hands. He at last
approached, plunged in his hand, and when he withdrew it, lo, it was black 1
The wretched man confes.sed in terror, and immediately gave up the watch.
Thereafter no Mexican passed Dr. Weidemann without crossing himself, for they
all firmly believed he was in league with the Devil. The Doctor told them that the



lOfi SAX AXTOXIO Dlv BKXAR.

spirits of the boiled Indians were nnder his control and told him everything. He
set their skeletons up in his summer house and defied any one to steal from him ;
it is needless to say his property was not further molested. The Doctor was
drowned in 1S4". or 1S44 in attempting to swim Peach Creek near Gonzales,
during a rise."

Mrs. Maverick gives a graphic account of the flight from San Antonio in 1842
on the approach of Vasquez. She mentions the burying of valuables, the di.sposing
of doubloons in bustles manufactured for the occasion, the turning over of furniture
to Mexican friends and other incidents of what is known as the " Runaway of '42."
Mr. Maverick and many gentlemen escorted the ladies as far as the Capote Farm,
the Erskine place, on the Guadalupe. "On the way from Capote Farm to
Gonzales we passed King's rancho, which had just been deserted by the owners.
Here was desolation amidst plenty. The corn-crib was full, the smoke-house
well supplied, and chickens and hogs were running around as usual. On the
front door was pasted the following notice : ' To all refugees, welcome; help your-
selves to what you need. Also to all marching to repel the invaders, take what you
want but leave the remainder to the next comers.' Haj's reoccupied San Antonio,
but the fugitives continued their flight first to Gonzales and afterwards to I,a Grange.
Mr. Ma\'erick made a trip to Alabama and returning to San Antonio to the fall
term of Court, was taken prisoner in the raid by Woll after a gallant Init ineffectual
resistance to a complete surprise."

San Antonio was again reoccupied by the Texans after the battle of the Salado,
but too late to rescue the prisoners, largel}- on account of the jealousy of the
commanding oflftcers of the Texan forces, Moore, Morehead and Caldwell.
Caldwell was the hero of the Salado, but Moore was the ranking officer. Each
division wanted its own commander to lead, leaving Hays, who had already
captured the Mexican Artillery, to maintain himself unsupported. The troops
returned disgusted, in small squads, to San Antonio, Woll getting off in safety,
his prisoners being already far on their way. Mr. Maverick was liberated in the
City of Mexico on March 30th, lS4o, through the good offices of General Waddy
Thompson, a connection of his, and then United States Minister to Mexico. The
remainder of the prisoners were not released by Santa Anna until June Kith of
the same year. Mr. Maverick started for home on April 2d, and on " May 4th he
dismounted at cur cabin on the Colorado." The family afterward removed to
Decrow's Point, on Matagorda bay, remaining until October l-")th, 1847. They
found the town on their return much changed since '42, "emigrants arriving
daily." . . . "We moved directh- to our old home, the fence was nearly
gone and everything dilapidated." In July, 18.")0, what is known as the
Maverick Homestead, was begun on the corner of Alamo Plaza and Houston
street, although that street then had no existence, and years after its opening,
was known as Pa.seo.

Tliis date brings our quotations to an appropriate end. but wc close the MS.,
this mirror of by-gone days, with regret. Our extracts have been limited to
matters of general interest, and we commend them to the reader who lives in
calmer times, and who would learn somewhat of the struggles to which he owes
his present comfort, with the admonition to profit by them, not only by informing
him.self of the facts of history, but also by observing some of the spirit of that
society which has created his own.



ix'ri-:R\'ii"Av WITH mrs. cAXTi'.RiirRv. io7

Interview with Mrs. Canterbury.

"The Republic of Texas!" Nowadays when "Tlie .State of Texas" is so con -
staiitlv in our ears we are apt to "disrenieniber" that our wide; Ijroad,


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Online LibraryWilliam CornerSan Antonio de Bexar; a guide and history → online text (page 15 of 22)