John Henry Brown.

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rendered and were spared.



Many of the Indian women, for a little while,
fought as stoutly as the men and some were killed,
despite every effort to save them. In the charge
Isaac Mitchell's bridle bit parted asunder and his
mule rushed ahead into the midst of the Indians —
then halted and " sulked" — refused to move. A
squaw seized a large billet of wood and by a blow
on his head tumbled him to the ground; but he
sprang to his feet, a little bewildered, and just as
his comrades came by, seeing the squaw springing
at him knife in hand, they sang out, "Kill her,

Mitchell! " With a smile, not untinged with pain,
he replied: " Oh, no, boys, I can't kill a woman!"
But to prevent her killing himself, he knocked
her down and wrenched the weapon from her

A hundred and thirty Indians were left dead on
the field. Thirty-four squaws and children and
several hundred horses were brought in, besides
such camp equipage as the men chose to carry
with them, among which were goods plundered at
Linnville the previous August.

A Raid into Gonzales and Pursuit of tiie Indians in May, 1841 —

Ben McCulloch in the Lead.

Late in April, or early in May, 1841, a party of
twenty-two Indians made a night raid into and
around Gonzales, captured a considerable number
of horses and, ere daylight came, were in rapid
flight to their mountain home. It was but one of
oft-recurring inroads, the majority of which will
never be known in history. In this case, however,
as in many others, I am enabled to narrate every
material fact, and render justice to the handful of
gallant men who pursued and chastised the free-

Ben McCulloch called for volunteers ; but not, as
was most usual, to hurry off in pursuit. He knew the
difficulty and uncertainty of overhauling retreating
savages, with abundant horses for frequent change,
and preferred waiting a few days, thereby inducing
the red men, who always kept scouts in the rear, to
believe no pursuit would be made, and in this he
was successful.

When ready, McCulloch set forth with the fol-
lowing sixteen companions, every one of whom was
personally well known to the writer as a brave and
useful frontiersman, viz. : Arthur Swift, James H.
Callahan (himself often a captain), Wilson Randle,
Green McCoy (the Gonzales boy who was in
Erath's fight in Milam County in 1837, when his
uncle, David Clark, and Frank Childress, were
killed), Eli T. Hankins, Clement Hinds, Archibald
Gipson (a daring soldier in many fights, from 1836
to 1861,) W. A. Hall, Henry E. McCulloch,
James Roberts, Jeremiah Roberts, Thomas R.

Nichols, William Tamlinson, William P. Kincannon,
Alsey S. Miller, and William Morrison.

They struck the Indian trail where it crossed the
San Marcos at the mouth of Mule creek and fol-
lowed it northwestwardly up and to the head of
York's creek; thence through the mountains to the
Guadalupe, and up that stream to what is now-
known as " Johnson's Fork," which is the principal
mountain tributary to the Guadalupe on the north
side. The trail was followed along this fork to its
source, and thence northwestwardly to the head of
what is now known as " Johnson's Fork " of the
Llano, and down this to its junction with the

Before reaching the latter point McCulloch
halted in a secluded locality, satisfied that he was-
near the enemy, and in person made a reconnoisance
of their position, and with such accuracy that he
was enabled to move on foot so near to the encamp-
ment as, at daylight, to completely surprise the
Indians. The conflict was short. Five warriors
lay dead upon the ground. Half of the remainder
escaped wounded, so that of twenty-two only about
eight escaped unhurt ; but their number had prob-
ably been increased after reaching that section.

The Indians lost everything excepting their arms.
Their horses, saddles, equipages, blankets, robes,
and even their moccasins, were captured. It wa»
not only a surprise to them, but a significant warn-
ilig, as they had no dread of being hunted down
and punished in that distant and remarkably



secluded locality. In March and April, 1865, in
command of 183 men, the writer, as a Confederate
officer, made a campaign through and above that
country, following the identical route from the
mouth of Johnson's Fork of the Guadalupe to the

spot where this conflict took place twenty-four
years before, and found it still a wild mountain
region — still a hiding-place for savage red men,
and at that particular period, for lawless and dis-
reputable white men.

Red River and Trinity Events in 1841 — The Yeary and Ripley

Families — Skirmish on Village Creek and Death

of Denton — Expeditions of Gens. Smith

and Tarrant.

For a great many years I have had notes on the
expedition in which John B. Denton was killed,
furnished at different times by four different per-
sons who were participants, viz.. Cols. James Bour-
land and Wm. C. Young, Dr. Lemuel M. Cochran
and David Williams, then a boy ; but there has
appeared from time to time in former years such a
variety of fiction on the subject that I determined
to publish nothing until thoroughly convinced of
the accuracy of the statements thus obtained — all
the while hoping for a personal interview with my
venerable friend of yore, Henry Stout, of Wood
County — who, besides Denton, was the only man
hurt in the trip. This I now have together with a
written statement from Dr. Cochran, dated Gon-
zales, September 26, 1886, and the personal recol-
lections of John M. Watson, Alex W. Webb and
Col. Jas. G. Stevens, then a youth.

As a prelude to the expedition it is proper to say
that late in 1840, the house of.Capt. John Yeary,
living on Sulphur, in the southeast part of Fannin
County, was attacked by a party of ten Indians
while he and a negro man were at work in his field
three hundred yards from the house. Mrs. Yeary,
gun in hand, stood on the defensive, inside of the
closed door. Yeary and the negro man, armed
with a hoe each, rushed towards the house and
across the yard fence, fought the assailants hand to
hand, in which Yeary received an arrow just above
the eye, which glanced around the skull without
penetrating. Mrs. Yeary, with a gun, ran out to
her husband, but in doing so was shot in the hip.
Thus strengthened in the means of defense, the
Indians were driven off, without further casualty
to the family.

Early in April, 1841, a part of the Ripley family

on the old Cherokee trace, on Eipley creek, in Titus
County, were murdered by Indians. Riplej' was
absent. Mrs. Ripley was at home with a son
scarcely twenty years old, a daughter about six-
teen, two daughters from twelve to fifteen, and
several smaller children, living some distance from
any other habitation. The Indians suddenly ap-
peared in daylight, shot and killed the son as he
was plowing in the field, and rushed upon the house,
from which the mother and children fled towards a
canebrake, two hundred yards distant. The elder
daughter was shot dead on the way. The second
and third daughters escaped into the cane ; the
mother and the other children were killed with
clubs ; one child in the house, probably asleep.
The Indians then plundered the house and set it on
fire, the child inside being consumed in the flames.
This second outrage led to a retaliatory expedi-
tion, which required some time for organization, in
the thinly populated district. By prior agreement
the volunteer citizens, numbering eighty (as stated
by Dr. Cochran, who was Orderly Sergeant ; but,
seventy, according to Henry Stout's statement), met
in a body on Choctaw bayou, eight miles west of the
place since known as Old Warren, on the 4th of Ma}',
1841, as shown by the notes of John M. Watson,
yet (1886) living in Fannin County. On the next
morning they organized into a company by electing
James Bourland, Captain, William C. Young,
Lieutenant, and Lemuel M. Cochran, Orderly Ser-
geant. John B. Denton and Henry Stout were
each placed in charge of a few men as scouts.
Edward H. Tarrant, General of militia, was of the
party without command, but' was consulted and
respected as a senior officer. On the same day the
company moved west to the vacant barracks,



erected during the previous winter by Col. William
G. Cooke, senior officer in command of the regular
troopa of Texas. At the barracks, which stood
in the immediate vicinity of the present town of •
Denison, the company remained two or three days
for a portion of the volunteers, who had been de-
tained. On their arrival the command moved west
on the old Chihuahua trail, leading to Natchitoches.
Jack Ivey, a man of mixed Indian and African blood,
was pilot. At that time Holland Coffee, who was one
of the party, lived eight miles above the barracks. At
some poict on the trip, but exactly when or where, I
have been unable to learn, he, with a man named
Wm. A. (Big Foot) Wallace, Colvill, and seven
others, left the company andjreturned to his post
or trading house. This doubtless accounts for the
disparity in numbers given by Cochran and Stout.

It was believed that the depredating Indians
were encamped on a creek which enters the west
fork of Trinity from the northeast si^de, where the
town of Bridgeport now stands, in Wise County,
the reputed village being at a broken, rocky spot,
four or five miles up the stream, which now bears the
name of "Village" creek. The expedition moved
under that belief, passing where Gainesville now is,
and thence southwesterly to the supposed Keechi
village, but found it abandoned, without any evi-
dence of very recent occupancy, beyond some fresh
horse tracks, not far away.

The next day they crossed to the west side of
the Trinity, and for two days traveled south
obliquely in the direction of the Brazos. Find-
ing no indication of Indians, they turned north-
easterly, and on the afternoon of the second
day recrossed the Trinity to the north and trav-
eled down its valley, camping in the forks of
that stream and Fossil creek. On t^he next day,
near their camp, they found an old buffalo trail,
leading down and diagonally across the river, and on
to an Indian encampment on Village creek, a short
distance above, but south from where the Texas and
Pacific Kailroad crosses that creek, which runs from
south to northeast, and is some miles east of Fort
Worth. On this trail they found fresh horse tracks,
and followed them. Henry Stout then, as through-
out the expedition, led an advance scout of six
men. Nearing the camp referred to, they dis-
covered an Indian woman cooking in a copper ket-
tle, in a little glade on the bank of the creek. See-
ing he was not observed, and being veiled by a
brush-covered rise in the ground. Stout halted and
sent the information back to Tarrant. While
thus waiting, a second woman rose the bank and
joined the first, one of them having a child. As
Tarrant came up the squawsdiscovered them, gave

a loud scream, and plunged down into the bed of
the creek. The men charged, supposing the war-
riors were under the bank. A man named Alsey
Fuller killed one of the squaws, not knowing her
to be a woman, as she ascended the opposite bank.
The other woman and child were captured.

Here the men scattered into several different
parties in quest of the unseen enemy. Bourland,
with about twenty men, including Denton, Coch-
ran and Lindley Johnson, crossed the creek and
found a road along its valley. They galloped along
it down the creek a little over a mile, when they
came upon a large camp, when Bourland, with
about half of the men, bore to the right, and Coch-
ran, with the others, to the left, in order to flank
the position, but the Indians retreated into the
thickets on the opposite side. Cochran and Elbert
Early both attempted to fire at a retreating
Indian, but their guns snapped. On reaching the
creek the Indian fired at Early but missed. The
whole command became badly scattered and con-
fused. Eight men again crossed the creek and in a
short distance came upon a third camp just deserted.
Tarrant ordered them to fall back to the second
camp. When they did so about forty were pres-
ent. While waiting for the others to come up, Den-
ton asked and obtained Tarrant's reluctant consent
to take ten men and go down the creek, promising
to avoid an ambuscade by extreme caution. After
Denton left, Bourland took ten men and started in
a different direction ; but about a mile below they
came together, and after moving together a short
distance Bourland and Calvin Sullivan crossed a
boggy branch to capture some horses, one of
which wore a bell. The others bore farther down
the branch into a corn-field, crossed it and found a
road leading into the bottom. At the edge of the
bottom thicket they halted, Denton to fulfill his
promise of care in avoiding an ambush. Henry
Stout then rode to the front saying, "If you are
afraid to go in there, I am not." Denton brusquely
answered that he would follow him to the infernal
regions and said " Move on!" In about three hun-
dred yards they came to and descended the creek
bank. Stout led, followed by Denton, Capt.
Griffin and the others in single file. When the
three foremost had traveled up the creek bed about
thirty paces from a thicket on the west bluff they
were fired upon. Stout was in front, but 'partly
protected by a small tree, but was shot through his
left arm. He wheeled to the right, and in raising
his gun to fire, a ball passed through its butt, caus-
ing the barrel to strike him violently on the head,
and five bullets pierced his clothing around his
neck and shoulders. Denton, immediately behind



Stout, was shot at the same instant, wheeled to the
right-about, rode baclt up the bank, and fell dead,
pierced by three balls, one in his arm, one in his
shoulder and one through his right breast. The
other men, being in single file, did not get in
range, being screened by a projection in the bank,
and some had not quite reached the creek bed.
Those firing upon Stout and Denton fled in the
brush after a single volley, and in a little time the
savages were securely hidden in the surrounding
thickets. Griffin was grazed by a ball on his
cheek, and several passed through his clothes.

The men hastily countermarched to the field,
where Capt. Bourland met them. They were con-
siderably demoralized. Pretty soon all were
rallied at the first point of attack. Bourland
took twenty-four men, went back and carried
off the body of Denton. Eighty horses, a consid-
erable number of copper kettles, many buffalo
robes and other stuff were carried away. Our men
retraced their steps to the Fossil creek camp of the
previous night, arriving there about midnight,
after losing much of the spoil. Next morning,
crossing Fossil creek bottom to its north side, they
buried Denton under the bank of a ravine, at the
point of a rocky ridge, and not far from where
Birdville stands. Ten or twelve feet from the
grave stood a large post oak tree, at the roots of
which two stones were partly set in the ground.
This duty performed they traveled up the country
on the west side of the Cross Timbers and Elm
Fork, until they struck their trail outward at the
site of Gainesville, and then followed it back to the
barracks, where they disbanded, after a division of
the captured property. The Indian woman escaped
on the way in. Gen. Tarrant kept the child, but it
was restored to its mother some two years later, at
a council in the Indian Territory.

The expedition was unsuccessful in its chief
objects and, from some cause, probably a division
of responsibility, the men, or a portion of them, at
the critical moment, were thrown into a degree of
confusion bordering on panic.

On returning home from this fruitless, indeed
unfortunate, expedition, measures were set on foot
for a larger one, of which Gen. Tarrant was again
to be the ranking officer.

At that time Gen. James Smith, of Nacogdoches,
was commander of the militia in that district. He
led an expedition at the same time to the same
section of country, there being an understanding
that he and Tarrant would, if practicable, meet
somewhere in the Cross Timbers.

The volunteers of Ked river, between 400 and
500 in number, assembled from the 15th to the

20th of July, 1841, at Fort English, as the home
of Bailey English was called, and there organized
as a regiment by electing William C. Young as
Colonel and James Bourland as Lieutenant-Colonel.
John Smither was made Adjutant, and among the
captains were William Lane, David Key and Robert
S. Hamilton.

Gen. Tarrant assumed command and controlled
the expedition. Simultaneously with this assem-
bling of the people two little boys on the Bois
d'Arc, lower down, were captured and carried off
by Indians, to be recovered about two years later.

The expedition moved southwest and encamped
on the west bank of the Trinity, probably in Wise
County, and sent out a scouting party, who made no
discoveries ; yet, as will be seen, the Indians dis-
covered Tarrant's movements in time to be unseen
by him and to narrowly escape a well-planned attack
by Gen. Smith. Without discovering any enemy,
after being out several weeks, Tarrant's command
returned home and disbanded.

In the meantime Gen. Smith, with a regiment of
militia and volunteers, moved up northwesterly in
the general direction of the present city of Dallas.
On arriving at the block houses, known as King's
Fort, at the present town of Kaufman, he found
that the place had been assaulted by Indians during
the previous evening and a considerable fight had
occurred, in which the assailants had been gallantly
repulsed and had retired, more or less damaged.

Gen. Smith fell upon and followed the trail of
the discomfited savages, crossing Cedar creek (of
Kaufman County), the " East Fork," White Rock
and the Trinity where Dallas stands, this being a
few months before John Neely Bryan pitched his
lonely camp on the same spot. On the spring
branch, a mile or so on the west side of the river,
the command halted, enjoying limpid spring water
and an abundance of honey, from which one of the
springs derived' the name it still retains — Honey
spring. From this camp Gen. Smith dispatched a
scout of twelve men, under Capt. John L. Hall, to
seek and report the location of the Indian village.
Besides Capt. Hall there were in this scout John H.
Reagan (then a buckskin attired surveyor — years
later United States senator, having first entered the
lower House of Congress in 1857), Samuel Bean,
Isaac Bean, John I. Burton (of race-horse fame),
Hughes Burton, George Lacey, Warren A. Ferris,
a Creek Indian named Charty, and three others
whose names have not been obtained. They crossed
Mountain creek above or south of the Texas and
Pacific railroad of to-day, thence passed over the
prairie into the Cross Timbers and to within a short
distance of Village creek. From the number of



fresh trails, apparently converging to a common
center, it became evident they were in the vicinity
of an Indian town. Secreting his party in a low
and well hidden spot, Capt. Hall sent Judge
Reagan and Isaac Bean on foot, to discover the
exact location of the village and the best means of
approaching and surprising it. These brave but
cautious men, well-skilled in woodcraft, spent over
half a day in " spying out the lay of the land,"
finding the Indians in quiet possession of their
camp and that it was approachable at both the
upper and lower ends of the village. Thus informed
they lost no time in reporting to Capt. Hall, who,
as soon as night came, cautiously emerged from his
hiding-place with his party, and hastened with the
information to Gen. Smith, who, by the way, was a
gallant old soldier in the Creek war under Gen.
Jackson. Camping at night on Mountain creek,
after starting as soon as possible after the arrival
of Hall, Gen. Smith reached the village about noon

next day. The command was divided into two
battalions, respectively commanded by Gen. Smith
and Lieut.-Col. Elliott.

Judge Reagan acted as guide in conducting Smith
to the upper end of the village, while Bean per-
formed the same service in guiding Elliott to the
lower. Both moves were successfully made ; but,
when the crisis came and the enthusiasm of the
men was at fever heat, it was found that the enemy
Ijad already precipitately fled, leaving some supplies
and camp fixtures.

The simple explanation was that the Indians had
discovered Tarrant's force and fled barely in time to
elude Smith. Pursuit, under such circumstances,
would be useless.

Without meeting, each command, in its own way,
returned homeward ; but, though bloodless, the
invasion of the Indian country, in such force, had
a salutary effect in preparing all the smaller hostile
tribes for the treaty entered into in September, 1843.

Death of McSherry and Stinnett — Killing of Hibbins and
Creath and the Capture of Mrs. Hibbins and
Children — 1828 to 1842.

In 1828, there arrived on the Guadalupe river a
young married couple from the vicinity of Browns-
ville, Jackson County, Illinois — John McSherry
and his wife, Sarah, whose maiden name was Creath.
They settled on the west side of the Guadalupe,
near a little creek, which, with a spring, was some
two hundred yards in front of the cabin they erected.
This was in the lower edge of DeWitt's Colony, as
it is now in the lower edge of DeWitt County.
Their nearest neighbor was Andrew Lockhart, ten
miles up the river, and one of a large family of
sterling pioneers on the Guadalupe, bearing that
name. Mrs. McSherry was a beautiful blonde, an
excellent type of the country girls of the West in
that day, very handsome in person, graceful in
manner and pure of heart. Mr. McSherry was an
honest, industrious man of nerve and will. They
were happily devoted to each other.

Early in 1829, their first child, John, was born in
that isolated cabin, in one of the most lovely spots
of the Southwest.

Later in the same year, about noon on a pleasant
day, Mr. McSherry went to the spring for a bucket

of water. As he arose from the bank, bucket in
hand, a party of Indians with a wild yell, sprang
from the bushes and in a moment he was a lifeless
and scalped corpse. His wife hearing the yell,
sprang to the door, saw him plainly and realized
the peril of herself and infant. In the twinkling of
an eye, she barred the door, seized the gun and
resolved to defend herself and baby unto death.
The savages surveyed the situation and manceuvered
to and fro, but failed to attack the cabin and soon
disappeared. Thus she was left alone, ten miles
from the nearest habitation, and without a road to
that or any other place. But truly, in the belief
of every honest person of long frontier experi-
ence, the ways of providence are inscrutable.
About dark John McCrabb, a fearless and excel-
lent man, well armed and mounted, but wholly
unaware of the sad condition of matters, rode up to
the cabin to pass the night. Hearing the recital his
strong nerves became stronger, and his heart pul-
sated as became that of a whole-souled Irishman.

Very soon he placed the young mother and babe
on his horse and, by the light of the stars, started



on foot, through the wilderness, for the house of
Andrew Lockhart, reaching it before daylight,
where warm hearts bestowed all possible care and
kindness on those so ruthlessly stricken in the
wilderness and so remote from all kindred ties.

Mrs. McSherry, for a considerable time, found a
home and friends with the Lockharts; but a few
years later married John Hibbins, a worthy man,
who settled on the east side of the Guadalupe, in
the vicinity of where the town of Concrete now
stands, in DeWitt County.

In the summer of 1835, with her little boy, John
McSherry, and an infant by Mr. Hibbins, she re-
visited her kindred in Illinois. She returned via
New Orleans in the winter of 1835-6, accompanied
by her brother, George Creath, a single man, and
landed at Columbia, on the Brazos, where early in
February, 1836, Mr. Hibbins met them with an ox
cart, on which they began the journey home.
They crossed the Colorado at Season's and fell into
the ancient La Bahia road on the upper Navidad.
In due time they arrived at and were about
encamping on Rocky creek, six miles above the
subsequent village of Sweet Home, in Lavaca

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 16 of 135)