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called by Dr. Beales "Rio Escondido," the
same sometimes called Rio Chico, or Little river,
which enters the Rio Grande a few miles below
Eagle Pass, they recrossed to the east side of the
Rio Grande on the 12th and were again on the
colony lands. Here they fell in with five Shawnee
Indian trappers, two of whom spoke English and
were not only very friendly, but became of service
for some time in killing game. Other Shawnee
trappers frequently visited them. Here^Beales left
a portion of the freight, guarded by Addicks and
two Mexicans, and on the 14th traveled up the
country about fifteen miles to a creek called " El
Sancillo," or " El Sanz." On the 16th of March,
a few miles above the latter stream , they arrived at
the site of the proposed village of Dolores, on the
Las Moras creek, as before stated said to be ten or
twelve miles from the Rio Grande. The name
"Dolores" was doubtless bestowed by Doctor
Beales in honor of his absent wife.

Preparations were at once undertaken to form
tents, huts and cabins, by cleaning out a thicket
and building a brush wall around it as a fortifica-
tion against the wild Indians who then, as for gen-
erations before and for fifty years afterwards, were
a terror to the Mexican population on that frontier.
On the 30th, Dr. Beales was unexpectedly com-
pelled to go to Matamoras, three or four hundred
miles, to cash his drafts, having failed to do so in
Monclova. It was a grave disappointment, as
money was essential to meet the wants of the peo-
ple. Beyond this date bis notes are inaccessible
and subsequent events are gleaned dimly from other
sources. It must suffice to say that without irri-

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tive ladies could it have been made known and this
they had no oppoi-lunity of doing excepting after
their recovery and through the narrative from
which these facts are collected. Neither was ever
afterwards in the settled parts of Texas, and indeed
never were before, excepting on the trip from
Copano, via Goliad and San Antonio, to the Rio

On another occasion, after traveling for a short
distance on a large road, evidently leading to
Matamoras, they arrived near a rancho, near a
lake of water. The main body halted and a part
advanced upon the house which, though near, could
not be seen by the captive ladies, but they heard
the fight going on, firing and defiant shouts, for a
considerable time, when the Indians returned,
bearing two of their comrades severely
wounded, and showing that they had been
defeated and feared pursuit. They left the road
and traveled rapidly till night, and then made
no fire. On the following day they moved in
haste, as if apprehensive of attack. They made
no halt till night, and then for the first time
in two days, allowed the prisoners water and a
small quantity of meat. After two hours' travel
next morning, to the amazement of the captives,
they arrived at the spot where their husbands and
friends had been murdered and where their naked
bodies still lay, untouched since they left them, and
only blackened in appearance. The little boys,
John and Joseph, at once recognized their father,
and poured forth such wails as to soften any but a
brutal, savage heart. They soon passed on to the
spot where lay the bodies of Mr. Harris and the
_young German, who, Mrs. Horn says, fell
upon his face and knees and was still in that
position, being the only one not stripped of his

Startmg next morning by a different route from
that first pursued, they traveled rapidly for three
days and reached the spot near where they had
killed the little Mexican and his family and had
secreted the plunder taken from his house and
the other victims of their barbarity. This, Mrs.
Horn thought, was on the 18th day of April, 1836,
being the fifteenth day of their captivity. This
being but three days before the battle of San
Jacinto, when the entire American population of
Texas was on, or east of the Trinity, abundantly
accounts for the fact that these l)loody tragedies
never become known in Texas ; though, as will be
shown farther on, they accidentally came to my
knowledge in the year 1839, while in Missouri.

Gathering and packing their secreted spoils, the
savages separated into three parties of about equal

numbers and traveled with all possible speed till
about the middle of June, about two months. Much
of the way was over rough, stony ground, pro-
visions scarce, long intervals without water, the
sun on the bare heads and naked bodies of the
captives, very hot, and their sufferings Were great.
The ladies were in two different parties.

The narrative of Mrs. Horn, during her entire
captivity, abounds in recitals of cruelties towards
herself, her children and Mrs. Harris, involving
hunger, thirst, menial labor, stripes, etc., though
gradually lessened as time passed. To follow them
in detail would become monotonous repetition. As
a rather extreme illustration the following facts
transpired on this long march of about two months
from extreme Southwest Texas to (it is supposed)
the head waters of the Arkansas.

Much of the route, as before stated, was over
rough and stony ground, " cut up by steep and
nearly impassable ravines, with deep and dangerous
fords." (This is Mrs. Harris' language and aptly
applies to the head waters of the Nueces, Guadalupe,
the Conchos and the sources of the Colorado,
Brazos and Red rivers, through which they neces-
sarily passed.) At one of these deep fords, little
Joseph Horn slipped from his mule while ascending
the bank and fell back into the water. When he
had nearly extricated himself, a burly savage, en-
raged at the accident, pierced him in the face with
a lance with such force as to throw him into deep
and rapid water and inflict a severe wound just be-
low the eye. Not one of the demons offered remon-
strance or assistance, but all seemed to exult in the
brutal scene. The little sufferer, however, caught
a projecting bush and succeeded in reaching the
bank, bleeding like a slaughtered animal. The
distracted mother upbraided the wretch for his con-
duct, in return for which he made the child travel
on foot and drive a mule the remainder of the day.
When they halted for the night he called Mrs.
Horn to him. With a knife in one hand and a whip
in the other, he gave her an unmerciful thrashing,
butinthisas in all her afflictions, she says: " I have
cast myself at His feet whom I have ever been
taught to trust and adore, and it is to Ilim I owe it
that I was sustained in the fiery trials. When the
savage monster liad done whipping me, he took his
knife and literally sawed the hair from my head.
It was quite long and when he completed the oper-
ation, he tied it to his own as an ornament, and, I
suppose, wears it yet. At this time we had tasted
no food for two days, and in hearing of the moana
of my starving children, bound, as on every night,
with cords, I laid down, and mothers may judge, if
they can, the measure of my repose. The next day



a wild horse was killed and we were allowed to par-
take of the flesh."

The next day, saj's the captive lady, they came
to a deep, rapid stream. The mules had to swim
and the banks were so steep that the riders had to
dismount in the edge of the water to enable them
to ascend. They then soon came to the base of a
mountain which it was difficult to ascend. Arriv-
ing at the summit, they halted, when a few of the
Indians returned to the stream with the two little
boys and enjoyed the barbaric sport of throwing
the little creatures in till life would be almost
extinct. Reviving them, the}' would repeat the
torture and this was done time and again. Finally
they rejoined the party on the mountain, the chil-
dren being unable to stand, partially unconscious
and presenting a pitiable spectacle. Their bodies
were distended from engorgement with water and
Joseph's wounded face was terribly swollen.
Water came from their stomachs in gurgles. Let
Eastern humanitarians bear in mind that this was
in the spring of 1836, before the Comanches had
any just pretense for hostility towards the people
of Texas (however much they may have had in
regard to the Mexicans), and that this narrative
comes not from a Texian, but from a refined En-
glish lady, deeply imbued with that spirit of reli-
gion whose great pillars are " Faith, Hope and
Charity." My soul sickens in retrospective con-
templation of that (to the uninformed) somewhat
plausible gush of philanthropy, which indulges in
the Pharisaical " I am holier than thou " hypocrisy
at home, but soars abroad to lift up the most
inferior and barbaric races of men ! — a fanaticism
which is ever blind to natural truth and common
sense on such subjects — ever the fomentor of
strife rather than fraternity among its own people —
and which is never enjoying the maximum of self-
righteousness unless intermeddling with the affairs
and convictions of other people.

Referring to the stream and mountain just de-
scribed and the probable time, in the absence of
dates, together with a knowledge of the topography
of the country, and an evidently dry period , as no
mention is made in this part of the narrative of
rain or mud, it is quite certain that the stream was
the Big Wichita (the Ouichita of the French. ) The
description, in view of all the facts, admirably
applies to it and to none other.

On the night of this day, after traveling through
the afternoon, for the first time Mrs. Horn was
allowed the use of her arms, though still bound
around the ankles. After this little unusual hap-
pened on the journey, till the three parties again
united. Mrs. Harris, when they met, seemed barely


to exist. The meeting of the captive ladies was
a mournful renewal of their sorrows. Mrs. H.'s
breasts, though improved, were not well and her
general health was bad, from which, with the want
of food and water, she had suffered much. The
whole band of four hundred then traveled together
several days, till one day Mrs. Horn, being in front
and her children in the rear, she discovered that
those behind her were diverging in separate parties.
She never again saw her little sons together, though,
as will be seen, she saw them separately. They
soon afterwards reached the lodges of the band she
was with, and, three days later, she was taken to
the lodge of the Indian who claimed her. There
were three branches of the family, in separate tents.
In one was an old woman and her two daughters,
one being a widow; in another was the son of the
old woman and his wife and five sons, to whom
Mrs. Horn belonged ; and in the third was a son-
in-law of the old woman. The mistress of Mrs. H.
was the personification of savagery, and abused her
captive often with blows and stones, till, in des-
peration Mrs. Horn asserted her rights by counter-
blows and stones and this rendered the cowardly
brute less tyrannical. She was employed con-
stantly by day in dressing buffalo robes and deer
skins and converting them into garments and moc-
casins. She was thrown much with an old woman
who constituted a remarkable exception to the
general brutality of the tribe. In the language of
the captive lady: "She contributed generally by
her acts of kindness and soothing manners, to
reconcile me to my fate. But she had a daughter
who was the very reverse of all that was amiable
and seemed never at ease unless engaged in some
way in indulging her ill-humor towards me. But,
as if by heaven's interposition, it was not long till
I so won the old woman's confidence that in all
matters of controversy between her daughter and
myself, she adopted my statement and decided in
my favor."

Omitting Mrs. Horn's mental tortures on ac-
count of her children, she avers that the sufferings
of Mrs. Harris were much greater than her own.
That lady could not brook the idea of menial
service to such demons and fared badlj'. They
were often near together and were allowed occa-
sionally to meet and mingle their tears of anguish.
Mrs. Harris, generally, was starved to such a degree
that she availed herself of every opportunity to get
a mite of meat, however small, through Mrs. Horn.

In about two months two little Mexican boy
prisoners told her a little white boy had arrived
near by with his captors and told them his mother
was a prisoner somewhere in the country. By per-



mission she went to see him and found her little
Joseph, who, painted and his head shaven except-
ing a tuft on the crown, recognized her at a distance
and ran to her overflowing with cries and tears of
joy. She was allowed to remain with him only half
an hour. I draw the veil over the heartrending
scene of their separation.

It was four months before she heard of John,
her eider son, and then she saw him passing with a
party, but was not allowed to go to him. But
some time later, when the different bands congre-
gated for buffalo hunting, she was allowed to see
him. Time passed and dates cannot be given, but
Mrs. Horn records that " some of Capt. Coffee's
men came to trade with the Indians and found me."
They were Americans and made every effort to
buy her, but in vain. On leaving, they said they
would report to Capt. Coffee and if any one could
assist these captives he could and would. Soon
afterwards he came in person and offered the
Indians any amount in goods or money ; but with-
out avail. Mrs. Horn says: "He expressed the
deepest concern at his disappointment and wept
over me as he gave me clothing and divided his
scanty supply of flour with me and my children,
which he took the pains to carry to them himself.
It is, if possible, with a deeper interest that I
record this tribute of gratitude to Capt. Coffee be-
cause, since my strange deliverance, I have been
pained to learn that he has been charged with
supineness and indifference on the subject ; but I
can assure the reader that nothing can be more un-
just. Mrs. Harris was equally the object of his
solicitude. The meeting with this friend in the
deep recesses of savage wilds was indeed like water
to a thirsty soul ; and the parting under such
gloomy forebodings opened anew the fountain of
grief in my heart. It was to me as the icy seal of
death fixed upon the only glimmering ray of hope,
and my heart seemed to die within me, as the form
of him whom I had fondly anticipated as my deliv-
ering angel, disappeared in the distance."

(The noble-hearted gentleman thus embalmed in
the pure heart of that daughter of sorrow, was
Holland Coffee, the founder of Coffee's Trading
House, on Red river, a few miles above Denison.
He was a member of the Texian Congress in 1838,
a valualdc and courageous man on the frontier and,
to the regret of the country, was killed a few years
later in a difficulty, the particulars of which are not
at this time remembered. Col. Coffee, formerly
of Southwest Missouri, but for many years of
Georgetown, Texas, is a brother of the deceased.)

Soon after this there was so great a scarcity of
meat that some of the Indians nearly starved.

Little John managed to send his mother smal'
portions of his allowance and when, not a great
while later, she saw him for the last time, he was
rejoiced to learn she had received them. He had
been sick and had sore throat, but she was only
allowed a short interview with him. Soon after this
little Joseph's party camped near her and she was
permitted to spend nearly a day with him. He had
a new owner and said he was then treated kindly.
His mistress, who was a young Mexican, had been
captured with her brother, and remained with them,
while her brother, by some means, had been restored
to his people. He was one of the hired guard at
the unfortunate settlement of Dolores, where Joseph
knew him and learned the story of his captivity and
that his sister was still with the savages. By acci-
dent this woman learned these facts from Josejth,
who, to convince her, shbwed how her brother
walked, he being lame. This coincidence cstal>-
lished a bond of union between the two, greatly to
Joseph's advantage. As the shades of evening
appn^ached the little fellow piteously clung to his
mother, who, for the last time, folded him in her
arms and commended his soul to that beneficent
God in whose goodness and mercy she implicity

Some time in June, 1837, a little over fourteen
months after their capture, a party of Mexican
traders visited the camp and bought Mrs. Harris.
In this work of mercy they were the employes' of
that large-hearted Santa Fe trader, who had pre-
viously ransomed and restored Mrs. Rachel
Plummcr to her people, Mr. William Donoho, of
whom more will hereafter be said. They tried in
vain to buy Mrs. Horn. Although near each other
she was not allowed to sec Mrs. Harris before her
departure, but rejoiced at her liberation. They
had often mingled their tears together and had been
mutual comforters.

Of this separation Mrs. Horn wrote: "Now
left a lonely exile in the bonds of savage slavery,
haunted by night and by day with the image pf my
murdered husband, and tortured continually by an
undying solicitude for my dear little ones, my life
was little else than unmiUgated misery, and the
God of Heaven only knows why and how it is that
I am still alive."

After the departure of Mrs. Harris the Indians
traveled to and fro almost continually for about
three months, without any remarkable occurrence.
At the 011(1 of this time they were within two days'
travel of San Miguel, a village on the Pecos,' in
eastern New Mexico. Here an Indian girl told
Mrs. Horn that she was to he sold to people who
lived in houses. She did not believe it and cared



tout little, indeed dreaded lest thereby she might
inecer see her children, but hope suggested that as
a prisoner she might never again see them, while
•her redemption might be followed by theirs. A
great many Indians had here congregated. Her
old woman friend, in reply to her questions, told
■her she was to be sold, wept bitterly and applied
to her neck and arms a peculiar red paint, symbolic
of undying friendship. They started early next
morning and traveled till dark, encamping near
a pond. They started before day next morning
And soon reached a river, necessarily the Pecos or
ancient Puerco, which they forded, and soon
arrived at a small town on its margin, where they
-encamped for the remainder of the day. The
inhabitants visited the camp from curiosity, among
them a man who spoke broken P^nglish, who asked
if Mrs. Horn was for sale and was answered
afflrmatively by her owner. He then gave her to
understand that if he bought her he expected her
to remain with him, to which, with the feelings of
a pure woman, she promptly replied that she did
not wish to exchange her miserable condition for
a worse one. He offered two horses for her, how-
ever, but they were declined. Finding he could
not buy her, he told her that in San Miguel there
was a rich American merchant, named Benjamin
Hill, who would probably buy her. Her mistress
seemed anxious that she should fall into American
hands, and she was herself of course intensely
anxious to do so.

They reached San Miguel on the next daj' and
encamped there. She soon conveyed, through an
old woman of the place, a message to Mr. Hill.
He promptly appeared and asked her if she knew
Mrs. Hai'ris, and if she had two children among the
Indians. Being answered in the affirmative, he
■said: "You are the woman I have heard of," and
added, " I suppose you would be happy to get away
from these people." "I answered in the affirmative,
when he bid the wretched captive ' Good morning,'
and deliberately walked off without uttering another
word, and my throbbing bosom swelled with unut-
terable anguish as he disappeared."

For two days longer she remained in excruciating
suspense as to her fate. Mr. Hill neither visited
nor sent her anything, while the Mexicans were very
kind (it should be understood that, while at Dolores,
she and her two little boys had learned to speak
Spanish and this was to her advantage now, as it
had been among her captors, more or less of whom
spoke that language.)

On the morning of the third day the Indians be-
igan preparations for leaving, and when three-fourths
of the animals were packed and some had left, a

good-hearted Mexican appeared and offered to buy
Mrs. Horn, but was told it was too late. The ap-
plicant insisted, exhibited four beautiful bridles and
invited the Indian owning her to go with her to his
house, near by. He consented. In passing Hill's
store on the way, her mistress, knowing she pre-
ferred passing into American hands, persuaded her
to enter it. Mr. Hill offered a worthless old horse
for her, and then refused to give some red and blue
cloth, which the Indians fancied, for her. They
then went to the Mexican's house and he gave for
her two fine horses, the four fine bridles, two fine
blankets, two looking glasses, two knives, some
tobacco, powder and balls, articles then of very
great cost. She says : "I subsequently learned
that for my ransom I was indebted to the benevo-
lent heart of an American gentleman, a trader, then
absent, who had authorized this Mexican to pur-
chase us at any cost, and had made himself respon-
sible for the same. Had I the name of my bene-
factor I would gratefully record it in letters of gold
and preserve it as a precious memento of his truly
Christian philanthropy."

It will be shown in the sequel that the noble
heart, to which the ransomed captive paid homage,
pulsated in the manly breast of Mr. William
Donoho, then of Santa Fe, but a Missourian, and
afterwards of Clarksville, Texas, where his only
surviving child, Mr. James B. Donoho, yet resides.
His widow died there in 1880, preceded by him in

The redemption of this daughter of multiplied
sorrows occurred, as stated, at San Miguel, New
Mexico, on the 19th of September, 1837 — one
year, five months and fifteen days after her capture
on the 4th of April, 1836, on the Nueces river.

On the 21st, much to her surprise, Mr. Hill sent
a servant requesting her to remo^^e to his house.
This she refused. The servant came a second
time, saying, in the name of his master, that if she
did not go he would compel her to do so. A trial
was had and she was awarded to Hill. She re-
mained in his service as a servant, fed on mush
and milk and denied a seat at the luxurious table
of himself and mistress till the 2d of November.
A generous-hearted gentlemen named Smith,
residing sixty miles distant in the mines, hearing
of her situation, sent the necessary means and
escort to have her taken to his place for temporary'
protection. She left on the 2d and arrived at Mr.
Smith's on the 4th. The grateful heart thus notes
the change: "The contrast between this and the
house I had left exhibited the difference between
a servant and a guest, between the cold heart that
would coin the tears of helpless misery into gold



to swell a miser's store, and the generous bestowal
of heavenly friendship which, in its zeal to relieve
the woes of suffering humanity, gives sacred
attestation that it springs from the bosom of ' Him
who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes became
poor that we, through His poverty, might become
rich.' "

Her stay at the home of Mr. Smith was a daily
repetition of kindnesses, and she enjoyed all that
was possible in view of the ever present grief over
her slaughtered husband and captive children.

In February 1838, she received a sympathetic
letter from Texas, accompanied with presents in
clothing, from Messrs. Workman and Rowland,
Missourians, so long honorably known as Santa Fe
traders and merchants, whose families were then
residing in Taos. They advised her to defer leav-
ing for Independence till they could make another
effort to recover her children and invited her to re-
pair, as their guest, to Taos, to await events, pro-
vided the means for her doing so, placing her under
the protection of Mr. Kinkindall (probably Kuy-
kendall, but I follow her spelling of the name).

" But," she records, " friends were multiplying
around me, who seemed to vie with each other in
their endeavors to meet my wants. Other means
presented themselves, and I was favored with the
company of a lady and Dr. "Waldo."

She left Mr. Smith and the mines on the 4lh of
March, 1838, and after traveling in snow and over
rocks and mountains part of the way, arrived at

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 6 of 135)