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of an ancient and honorable family. Of him Gen. Bee
writes me: "He was an aimirable character, brave,
cool, determined in danger, faithful to public trusts and
loving in his friendships. He did more than his duty on
this trip. He served as Paymaster in the United States
navy from 18i6, and died the senior officer of that corps
in 1881, at his home in Brooklyn, New York. His stern
sense of duty was displayed on our way out, when, north
of Red river, we met and camped all night with a com-
pany of men under Capt. S. P. Eoss, returning from the
ill-fated Snively expedition. They urged us to return
home, as the Indians on the plains were all hostile — our
trip would be fruitless, and the hazards were too great
for such a handful. Only Eldridge's courage and high
sense of duty caused him to reject the advice and pro-
ceed; but pending our trial in the Comanche council we
all regretted not having yielded to the warnings of Capt.
Ross. Capt. Eldridge died of softening of the brain. He
had a son, Houston Eldridge, named for the President
after their temporary unpleasantness, a most promising
young officer of the navy, who died not long after his
father. Jjhn C. Eldridge, a cousin of Joseph C, also
figured honorably in Texas for a number of years, and
their names were sometim^is confounded. Charles W.
Eldridge, another cousin, deceased in Hartford, Con-
necticut, was a brother-in-law to the writer of this his-

missioners, at a point to be designated, for the
purpose of making a treaty. Subsequent events
went to show that the Delawares had imbibed that
idea; but President Houston finally decided to
commission Capt. Eldridge for that onerous and
hazardous mission, to be accompanied by two or
three white men of approved character, together
with the Delawares and a few Indians of other
tribes. Capt. Eldridge eagerly applied to his young
and bosom friend, Hamilton P. Bee, to accompany
him. They had crossed the gulf together on their
first arrival in Texas in 1837 — Bee accompanying
his mother from South Carolina to join his father,
Col. Barnard E. Bee, already in the service of
Texas, and Eldridge coming from his native State,
Connecticut. He selected also Thomas Torrey,
already an Indian agent, and also a native of

The preparations being completed, the party left
Washington late in March, 1843, and consisted of
Joseph C. Eldridge, commissioner, Thomas Tor-
rey, Indian agent, the three Delawares as guides
and interpreters, several other Delawares as hunt-
ers, helpers and traders, Acoquash, the Waco head
chief, who was one those who had been to see
the President, and Hamilton P. Bee. There may
have been a few other Indians. They had a small
caravan of pack mules to transport their provisions
and presents for the Indians. They also had with
them for delivery to their own people two Comanche
children about twelve years old, one a girl named
Maria (May-re-ah) and the other a boy who had
taken the name of William Hockley, being two of
>the captives at the Council House fight, in San
Antonio, on the 19th of March, 1840, elsewhere
described in this work. They also had two young
Waco women, previously taken as prisoners, but
these were placed in charge of Acoquash.

They passed up the valley of the Brazos, passing
Fort Milam, near the present Marlin, around which
were the outside habitations of the white settlers.
Further up, on Tehuacano creek, six or seven
miles southeast of the present city of Waco, they
reached the newly established trading house of the
Torrey brothers,* afterwards well known as a

* There were four of the Torrey brothers, all from
Ashford, Connecticut, the younger following the elder to
Texas 1836 to 1840. David was the head of Torrey's
Trading House. He was the third one in the order of
death, bemg killed by Indians on the Brazos frontier
not far from the time of annexation. James, a gallant
and estimable young man. kindly remembered by the
writer of this for his social and soldierly virtues, was one
of the seventeen justly celebrated Mler prisoners who
drew black b.ans at the hacienda of Salado, Mexico



resort for Indians and traders. Here they found a
large party of Delawares.

The Delawares ac'companying Eldrldge also had
mules freighted with goods for traffic with the wild
tribes, and, among other commodities, a goodly
supply of that scourge of our race — whisky —
doubtless intended for the Delawares found here,
as expected by those with Eldrldge, for at that
time the wild tribes did not drink it.

On the arrival of the commissioner, all became
bustle and activity. The liquor was soon tapped
and a merry time inaugurated, but soon after dark
every Indian surrendered his knife and firearms to
the chiefs, by whom they were secreted. Then
loose reign was given to unarmed warriors, and
throughout the night pandemonium prevailed ac-
companied by screams, hideous yells, fisticuffs,
scratching, biting, and all manner of unarmed per-
sonal combat, causing wakefulness and some degree
of apprehension among the white men. But no
one was killed or seriously injured, and in due
time, sheer exhaustion was followed by quiet
slumber, the red man showing the same maudlin
beastliness when crazed by mean whisky as, alas!
cliaracterizes his white brother in like condition.
It required two days to recover from the frolic,
and then Eldridge resumed his march into the
wilds beyond. His instructions were to visit as
many of the wild tribes as possible, and the head
chief of the Comanches — to deliver to them the
words of friendship from their Great Father, the
President, and invite them all to attend a grand
council to be held at Bird's Fort, on the north side
of the main or west fork of the Trinitj', com-
mencing on the 10th of August (1843), where
they would meet duly accredited commissioners
and the President in person to treat with them.

and were shot to death by order of Santa Anna, on the
19th of March, 1843. Thomas, the companion of Eld-
ridge and Bee on this hazardous mission, a worthy
brother of such men as David and James, was a Santa
Fe prisoner in 1841-42, marched in chains twelve hundred
miles, from Santa Fe to the city of Mexico, and was there
imprisoned with his fellows. He passed the terrible
ordeal narrated In this chapter, as occurring in the
council of Payhaynco — separated from Eldridge and Bee
at the Wichita village, successfully reached Bird's Fort,
with detachments of the wild tribes, there to sicken and
die, as success largely crowned their efforts to bring
about a general treaty. John F. Torrey, the only sur-
vivor of the four brothers, the personification of enter-
prise, built and ran cotton and woolen factories at New
Braunfels. Floods twice swept them and his wealth away.
At a goodly age he lives on his own farm on Comanche
Peak, Hood County. Honored be the name of Torrey
among the children of Texas!

This fort was about twenty-two miles westerly
from where Dallas was subsequently founded.

At a point above the three forks of the Trinity,
probably in Wise or Jack County, the expedition
halted for a few days and sent out Delaware mes-
sengers to find and invite any tribes found in the
surrounding country to visit them. Delegations
from eleven small tribes responded by coming in,
among them being Wacos, Anadarcos, Towdashes,
Caddos, Keecbis, Tehuacanos, Delawares, Bedais,
Boluxies, lonies, and one or two others, constitut-
ing a large assemblage, the deliberations of which
were duly opened by the solemnities of embracing,
smoking, and a wordy interchange of civilities.
Capt. Eldridge appeared in full uniform, and Bee *
performed the duties of secretary. The council
opened by an address from the Delaware interpre-
ters, and the whole day was consumed in a series
of dialogues between them and the wild chiefs,
Capt. Eldridge getting no opportunity to speak,
and when desiring to do so was told by the Dela-
ware's that it was not yet time, as they had not
talked enough to the wild men. So, at night, the
council adjourned till next day when Eldridge de-
livered his talk, which was interpreted to the differ-
ent tribes by the Delawares. Finally Eldridge
said: "Tell them I am the mouth-piece of the
President, and speak his words." Two of the Dela-
wares interpreted the sentence, but Jim Shaw re-
fused, saying it was a lie. The other two conveyed
the language to all. The result was satisfactory,
and the tribes present all agreed to attend the
council at Bird's Fort. Returning to bis tent,
Capt. Eldridge demanded of Shaw, who was the
leader and more intelligent of the Delawares, the
meaning of his strange conduct, to which he replied
that the three Delawares considered themselves the
commissioners, Eldridge being along only to write
down whatever was done. He also charged that
Eldridge had their commission, attested by seals

" Hamilton P. Bee is a native of Charleston, South Car-
olina, favorably and intimately known to the writer for
half a century as an honor to his country in all that con-
stitutes a true and patriotic citizen — a son of the Hon.
Barnard E. Bee, who early tendered his sword and ser-
vices to struggling Texas, and a brother of Gen. Barnard
E. Bee, who fell at Manassas, the first General to yield
his life to the Confederate cause. Hamilton P. Bee was
Secretary to the United States and Texas Boundary Com-
mission, 1839-40; Secretary of the first State Senate in
1846; a gallant soldier in the Mexican war; eight years a
member of the Legislature from the Rio Grande, and
Speaker of the House in 1855-56; a Brigadier-General in
the Confederate army, losing a handsome estate by the
war, and later served as Commissioner of Insurance,
Statistics and History of the State of Texas.



and ribbons, with his baggage. This document
being Eldridge's instructions as commissioner, was
brought out, read and explained by Bee. Jim Shaw
was greatly excited, and had evidently believed
what he said ; but Eldridge bore himself with great
composure and firmness. After the reading Jim
Shaw said: " I beg your pardon, Joe, but I have
been misled. I thought the Delawares were to
make the treaties. We will go no farther, but go to
our own country, on the Missouri river — will start
to-morrow, and will never return to Texas." Eld-
ridge, alarmed at this unexpected phase of affairs,
appealed to the trio to stay and guide him, as the
President expected them to do ; but they seemed
infliixible. To proceed without them was madness,
and in this dilemma Eldridge sent for Jose Maria,
the noted chief of the Anadarcos, who had been so
severely wounded in his victorious fight with the
whites, in Bryant's defeat near Marlin, in January,
1839. He explained to him the facts just related,
and asked him if he would escort him back into the
settlements. Greatly pleased at such a mark of
confidence — his keen black eyes giving full expres-
sion to his gratified pride — he promptly and sol-
emnly promised to do so.

On the next morning, while Eldridge was pack-
ing and mounting for his homeward march, sur-
rounded by his promised escort of one hundred
Anadarco warriors, well mounted and armed with
bows and lances, with Jose Maria at their head,
Jim Shaw sent word to Capt. Eldridge that he had
changed his mind and would continue the trip. An
interview followed and a full understanding was
entered into, acknowledging Capt. Eldridge as the
sole head of the expedition ; but after this the manner
of the Delaware trio was formal and reserved, and
their intercourse long confined to business matters.

Continuing the march, they next reached the
principal village of the Wacos, whither they had
been preceded by Acoquash, with the two released
"Waco girls, who greeted them warmly. During
their stay he was their guest, and most of the time
had his family on hand. It was a little odd, but
his friendship was too valuable to be sacrificed on
a question of etiquette. Here the Delawares
annouDced that it would be necessary to send out
runners to find the Comanches ; that this would
require fifteen days, during which time the trio —
Shaw, Connor and Second Eye — would take the
peltries they had on hand to Warren's trading
house down on Red river, for deposit or sale, and
return within the time named. During the delay,
Eldridge camped three miles from the village, but
was daily surrounded and more or less annoyed by
the Wticos, men, women and children. The wife of

Acoquash became violently ill, and he requested his
white brothers to exert their skill as medicine men.
Mr. Bee administered to her jalap and rhubarb,
which, fortunately for them, as will be seen later,
speedily relieved and restored her to health.

The runners returned on time with rather encour-
aging reports ; but the essential trio, so indispen-
sable to progress, were absent twenty-eight instead
of fifteen days, causing a loss of precious time.

Their next move was for the Wichita village, at
or near the present site of Fort Sill. They were
kindly received by this warlike tribe, who had heard
of their mission and promised to attend the council
at Bird's Fort.

They next bore westerly for the great prairies and
plains in search of the Comanches, Acoquash and
his wife being with them. It was now in July and all
of their provisions were exhausted, reducing them
to an entire dependence on wild meat, which, how-
ever, was abundant, and they soon found the tal-
low of the buffalo, quite unlike that of the cow,
a good substitute for bread. They carried in
abundant strings of cooked meat on their pack

After twenty days they found Indian" signs" in
a plum thicket, " the best wild plums," wrote Young
Bee, "I ever saw." They saw where Indians
had been eating plums during the same day, and
there they encamped. Pretty soon an Indian,
splendidly mounted, approached, having a boy of
six years before him. He proved to be blind, but
a distinguished chief of the Comanches — a man
of remarkable physique, over six feet in height, a
model in proportions and his hair growing down
over his face. He told the Delaware interpreter
the localitj' in which they were, and that the town
of Payhayuco, the great head chief of the
Comanches, was only a few miles distant.

As soon as the blind chief's boy — a beautiful
child, handsomely dressed in ornamented buck-
skin—gathered a supply of plums, they mounted
and returned to their town, accompanied by a few
of the Delawares. In the afternoon a delegation
of the Comanches visited Eldiidge and invited him
and his party to visit their town. Promptly sad-
dling up and escorted by about 500 Comanche
warriors, in about two hours' ride, they entered
the town of the great chief


and for the first time beheld the pride aad the glory
of the wild tribes — the Comanche Indian in his
Bedouin-like home. With considerable ceremony
they were conducted to the tent of Payhayuco who
was absent, but the honors were done by the chief



of his seven wives, who caused the best tent to be
vacated and placed at the disposal of her white
guests. It was hot, August weather, and such
crowds of Comanches, of all ages and sexes, pressed
in and around the tent that it became so suffocat-
ing as to necessitate the erection of their own tent,
which was open at both ends. First getting the
consent of their hostess, this was done.

Finding that the chief would be absent a week
yet to come, and their business being with him,
they could only patiently await his arrival. They
were ceaseless curiosities to all the younger Coman-
ches, who had never seen a white man, and who
continued to crowd around and inspect them ; roll-
ing up their sleeves to show their white arms to the
children, etc. While thus delayed the Comanches
twice moved their town, and our people were aston-
ished at the regularity with which each new location
was laid off into streets and the precision with
which each family took its position in each new
place. Mr. Bee accompanied the warriors on two
or" three buffalo hunts, and was surprised at their
wonderful dexterity.

Payhayuco arrived On the afternoon of August
9 (1843), and occupied the tent adjoining the
whites. They were soon informally presented to
him and courteously received, but no clue was
obtained as to the state of his mind. At sunrise
next morning about a hundred warriors met in
council in a large tent, sitting on the ground in a
series of circles diminishing from circumference
to center, wherein Payhayuco sat. Our friends,
not being invited, took a brief glance at thetn
and retired to their own tent, leaving their case
with the Delawares, who attended the council.
About 10 a. m. a sort of committee from the
council waited on tljem to say that a report
had come from the Waco village, where they
had tarried so long, charging that they were bad
men and had given poison to the Wacos, and
wanted to know what they had to say about it.
This was supremely preposterous, but it was also
gravely suggestive of danger. They repelled the
charge' and referred to the old Waco chief,
Acoquash, then present, their companion on the
whole trip, and whose wife they had cured.
What a hazard they had passed ! Had that poor
squaw died instead of recovering under Bee's
treatment, their fate would have been sealed. A
Choctaw negro, who understood bat little Co-
maache, told them the council was deliberating
op their lives and talking savagely. They sent for
the Delawares and told tluem of this. The Dela-
wares denied it, and reassured them. But half an
hour later their favorite Delaware huater, the only

one in whose friendshiji they fully confided,, in-
formed them that the Comanches were going to kill
them. They were, of course, very much alarmed
by this second warning, and, again summoning
the trio, told .Jim Shaw they were not children, but
men, and demanded to know the truth. Shaw re-
plied that he had desired to conceal their peril
from them as long as possible, and for that reason
had told them a lie ; but in truth the council was
clamorous and unanimous for their death ; that all
the chiefs who had a right to speak had done so,
and all were against them ; that they (Shaw and
Connor) had done all they could for them ; bad
told the council they would die with them, as they
had promised the White Father they would take
care of them and would never return without them ;
and that Acoquash had been equally true to them.
They added that only Payhayuco was yet to speak,
but even should he take the opposite side they did
not believe he had influence enough to save their
lives, "Next came into our tent " (I quote the
language of Gen. Bee on this incident), " our dear
old friend Acoquash, where we three lone white
men were sitting, betraying the most intense feel-
ing, shaking all over and great tears rolling from
his eyes, and as best he could, told us that we
would soon be put to death. He said, he had told
them his father was once a great chief, the head of
a nation who were lords of the prairie, but had
always been the friends of the Comanches, who
always listened to the counsel of his father, for
it was always good, and he had begged them to
listen to him as their fathers had listened to his
father, when he told them that we (Eldridge, Bee
and Torrey) were messengers of peace; that we
had the ' white flag,' and that the vengeance of
the Great Spirit would be turned against them if
they killed such messengers ; but he said it was of
no avail. We had to die and he would die with us
for he loved us as his own children. Poor old In-
dian ! My heart yearns to him yet after the lapse
of so many years." [Gen. Bee to his children.]

Acoquash then returned to the council. Our
friends, of course, agonized as brave men may who
are to die as dogs, bat they soon recovered com-
posure and resolved on their course. Each had
two pistols. When the party should come to take
them out for death, each would kill an Indian with
one, and then, to escape slow torture, empty the
other into his own brain. From 12 to 4 o'clock
not a word was spoken in that council. All sat in
silence, awaiting the voice of Payhayuco. At 4
o'clock his voice was heard, but no one reported to
the doomed men. Then otl*er voices, were heard,
and occasionally those of the Delawares. A little



later confusion seemed to prevail, and many voices
were heard. Bee said to Eldridge : " See the set-
ting sun, old fellow ! It is the last we shall ever
see on earih! " At the same instant approaching
footsteps were heard. Each of the three sprang to
his feet, a pistol in each hand, when "dear old "
Acoquash burst into the tent and threw himself
into the arms of Eldridge. Bee and Torrey
thought the old Spartan had come to redeem his
jpledge and die with them, but in a moment realized
that his convulsive action was the fruit of uncon-
trollable joy. The next moment the Delawares
rushed in exclaiming, "Saved! saved!" "Oh!
God ! can I ever forget that moment ! To the
earth, from which we came, we fell as if we had
been shot, communing with Him who reigns over
all — a scene that might be portrayed on canvas,
but not described ! Prostrate on the earth lay the
white man and the red man, creatures of a common
brotherhood, typiiied and made evident that day
in the wilderness ; not a word spoken ; each bowed
to the earth — brothers in danger and brothers in
the holy electric spark which caused each in his
way to thank God for deliverance." [Gen. Bee to
his children.]

After this ordeal had been passed, succeeded by
a measure of almost heavenly repose, the inter-
preters, now fully reconciled to Eldridge, explained
that after that solemn silence of four hours, Pay-
hayuco had eloquently espoused the cause of
mercy and the sanctitj' of the white flag borne by
the messengers of peace. His appeal was, perhaps,
as powerful and pathetic as ever fell from the lips
of an untutored son of the forest. Upon con-
clusion, amid much confusion and the hum of
excited voices, he took the vote per capita and was
sustained by a small majority. The sun sank at
the same moment, reflecting rays of joy upon the .
western horizon, causing among the saved a solemn
and inexpressibly grateful sense of the majesty and
benignity of the King of kings — our Father iu

As darkness came, the stentorian voice of Pay-
hayuco was successively heard in the four quarters
of the town, its tones denoting words of command.
Our countrymen demanded of the interpreters to
know what he was saying. The latter answered:
" He is telling them you are under his protection
and must not, at the peril of their lives, be hurt."
A hundred warriors were then placed in a circle
around the tent, and so remained till next morning.
No Indian was allowed to enter the circle.

When morning came they were invited to the
council, when Capt. Eldridge delivered the meseage
of friendship from President Houston, and invited

them to accompany him in and meet the council ab
Bird's Fort; but this was the 11th of August, a
day after the date heretofore fixed for the assem-
blage, and a new date would be selected promptly
on their arrival, or sooner if runners were sent in
advance. The presents were then distributed and
an answer awaited.

On their arrival the little Comanche boy had been
given up. He still remembered some of his mother
tongue and at once relapsed into barbarism. But
now Capt. Eldridge tendered to the chief, little
Maria, a beautiful Indian child, neatly dressed,
who knew no word but English. A scene followed
which brought tears to the eyes of not only the
white men, but also of the Delaware*. The
child seemed horrified, clung desperately and im-
ploringly to Capt. Eldridge, and screamed most
piteously ; but the whole scene cannot be described
here. It was simply heartrending. She was taken
up bj' a huge warrior and borne away, uttering
piercing cries of despair. For years afterwards she
was occssionally heard of, still bearing the name of
Maria, acting as interpreter at Indian councils.

Succeeding this last scene they were informed
that the council had refused to send delegates to
the proposed council. Payhayuco favored the
measure, but was overruled by the majority.
Within an hour after this announcement (August
11th, 1843) our friends mounted and started on
their long journey home — fully five hundred miles,,
through a trackless wilderness. I pass over some

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 18 of 135)